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By Brad Horn
This week, Major League Baseball and New York will welcome two new shrines, as the Mets christen Citi Field on Monday night and the new Yankee Stadium (everything old is new again) will host its formal inauguration Thursday.
We’ll be documenting both of these openings in Cooperstown with artifacts that capture this moment in time for future generations. Look for updates this week as we share our latest donation items with you.
When future generations of fans look back on this week, it’s likely they’ll say these stadiums represent the last of a new breed. For the last 20 years, baseball stadiums have been constructed at a rate, and a cost, never before seen in our game’s history.
The 1990s unleashed a fury of new ballparks, when the old seemingly was not enough. Toronto (’89), Chicago, Baltimore, Cleveland and Arlington got the ball rolling. Soon, Atlanta, Seattle, Detroit, San Francisco and Houston followed suit, as did an entirely rebuilt Angels Stadium in Anaheim. Expansion clubs Colorado (’95) and Arizona (’98) christened new ballparks, while Tampa Bay and Florida also established new traditions, albeit in fairly older structures. The 21st century welcomed new parks in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, San Diego, St. Louis and Washington. Just this offseason, Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium underwent a major renovation. Boston’s Fenway Park, long a stalwart, has had multiple facelifts throughout the last 10 years.
In fact, only Wrigley Field (Chicago), Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles), the Metrodome (Minneapolis) and Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (Oakland) are the last major structures not enduring entire overhaul or replacement since the era of the new ballpark began 20 years ago. The Met will join the list of replaced stadiums next year as Minneapolis welcomes a new outdoor home.
What will become of the next phase of ballparks? Which of the “new” will be the first to be deemed “outdated?”
One thing is for sure — no period in baseball history is likely to see as much change as we have witnessed in the last two decades.
Visitors to Cooperstown can celebrate stadiums of past and present in Sacred Ground, an exhibit dedicated to the ballpark experience, only at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Brad Horn is the senior director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.