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Ultimate ballpark guide: NL East

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AL EAST | AL CENTRAL | AL WEST | NL EAST | NL CENTRAL | NL WEST

 

ATLANTA BRAVES

 

Ballpark

The most distinctive feature of Turner Field is the Grand Entry Plaza on the north end of the ballpark. It's a ticketed entertainment/concession area consisting of pavilions, Scouts Alley and Cartoon Network's Tooner Field all aimed at encouraging fans to come to Braves games early. A 100-foot-diameter photograph of Hank Aaron's actual 715th home-run ball dominates the Plaza-side scoreboard. The actual spot where Aaron hit No. 715 at old Fulton County Stadium is marked by a plaque in the east parking lot with bricks outlining the diamond, complete with the blue outfield wall he hit it over.

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Adjacent to the Plaza on the north side is the Ivan Allen Jr. Hall of Fame Museum and a free-to-the-public area called Monument Grove — a large, park-like area adjacent to the Braves ticket windows. The Hank Aaron, Phil Niekro and Ty Cobb statues from Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium have been relocated to Monument Grove, along with the bust of Hank Aaron.

The Top of the Chop is a party zone furnished with 200 feet of railing to view the field and a three tiered party deck for fans to hang out with friend and still enjoy a great view of the game.

Fans

Braves fans may not root for the Phillies or Mets but one thing is for sure — Southern hospitality is alive and well at Turner Field. The crowd, while supporting their hometown team is very friendly, warm and inviting to opposing fans.

Food

Braves Chop House is an 8,000-square-foot casual dining bar and restaurant, directly above the Braves bullpen. Fans may drink and dine at the restaurant, which is terraced to facilitate views to the baseball field from as many seats as possible.

Music and entertainment

Turner Field has an organ player who plays all the classics to give the ballpark that old-school feel. Even when players come up they have music that is tailored to them — from hard rock to rap and alternative.

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But as any player (either home or away) has heard — the team is known for the Tomahawk Chop. Started back in '84 at Florida State, the Chop followed then-Braves outfielder and Atlanta Falcons cornerback Deion Sanders to Atlanta and has become a regular feature during a Braves rally. Foam tomahawks and a chant has had Braves fans 'chopping' since their divisional title runs throughout the '90s.

The Home Depot Tool Race (similar to Milwaukee’s racing sausages) takes place at every game.

Neighborhood

Varsity is a staple in Atlanta and a great place to go an enjoy a chili dog or burger before the big game. Closer to the stadium, there are several places such as the Bullpen Cafe just to the South side of the stadium, which is a great place to start your game-day experience — whether or not you have a ticket to the game.

Don't want to go into a bar? Turner Field is one of the few sports arenas in the Atlanta area where fans can tailgate before game. Often, fans bring in the barbecues and horseshoes and line the parking lots on the way up to the park.

Vacation planner

Fly into the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Atlanta also has a bevy of hotels. The Omni Luxury Hotel, attached to CNN Center, is a popular place for visiting dignitaries.

Fans coming in from out of town should take time to see the Georgia Aquarium. It is the largest in the world, with more than 8 million gallons of water, right in the heart of downtown. Other attractions include CNN Center, Philips Arena, the Coca-Cola museum and the Georgia Dome, which are all a 15-minute drive from Turner Field.

Less touristy destinations include trendy Buckhead and bar hoppin in the Virginia Highlands — a collection of bars and restaurants.

Nearby MLB cities

None

Follow the Braves at FOXSportsSouth.com.

 

MIAMI MARLINS

 

Ballpark

In 2012, the Marlins changed their name from Florida Marlins to Miami Marlins and took up residence in a bold, flourescent state-of-the-art baseball stadium owned by Miami-Dade County. It was constructed on approximately 17 acres of the historic 42-acre Orange Bowl site in the Little Havana section of Miami. The ballpark has a retractable roof, a natural grass playing field and 37,000 seats, including approximately 3,000 club seats and 60 private suites. 

Fans

The Marlins have had trouble attracting fans since the team debuted in the Sunshine State. Owner Jeffrey Loria hoped the new facility would appeal to Miami's large Latino cummunity and that the location in Little Havana would bring out the crowds. The team's fan base also includes a large military contingent. For every Monday regular season home game, active and retired military will be eligible for discounted tickets in predetermined seating areas.

Food

There’s something for every taste imaginable from Latin fare to Kosher, along with fresh-sliced sushi and a gluten-free stand. Favorites include Burger 305's shrimp burger on ciabatta role with aioli sauce, the steak BLT sub with blue cheese and Brother Jimmy’s BBQ pulled pork sandwich. Mahi tacos, key lime chicken and churros can be found at Miami Mex. For Cuban sandwiches and empanadas, Rincon Habana is a must. Kosher Korner offers knishes, Kosher hot dogs, tuna fish and pastrami. Every menu flashes both English and Spanish translations.

Music and entertainment

The Clevelander at Marlins Park features entertainment mirroring that of the original South Beach location, including dancers, body painting and DJs live from the pool area. The poolside bar and grill is available on game days for individual private events. The Clevelander at Marlins Park holds approximately 250 guests and offers field level seats, table service located beside the Marlins bullpen, and a menu of great Clevelander classic food selections with a ballpark twist.

One-of-a-kind Marlins Park amenities include the pair of 450-gallon backstop aquariums and art installations by renowned artists, including the gaudy, animated center field home run sculpture

As part of Family Sundays, all kids 12 and under will be able to run the bases on the field immediately following every Sunday home game at Marlins Park.

The Bobblehead Museum holds up to 700 figurines from past to present players, coaches and broadcasters throughout the league.

A different twist on the sausage race popularized in Milwaukee features an octopus, sea lion, shark and stone crab.

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Neighborhood

Marlins Park is less than two miles from downtown Miami. Fashion, flash and diversity make Miami night life unlike any other destination. A vast variety of authentic Caribbean cuisines provides South Beach restaurants with its unique flavor.

Vacation planner

The nearest airports are Miami International Airport (MIA), which is only four miles to Marlins Park, Ft. Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and Palm Beach International Airport (PBI).

Local Attractions include: Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena, Florida Panthers Hockey at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Miami Science Museum, Miami Seaquarium, Everglades National Park, Biscayne Nature Center, Ancient Spanish Monastery (The Monastery Cloister is the oldest building in the Western Hemisphere), and Miami Beach and South Beach.
(Compiled independently of the Marlins organization.)

Nearby MLB cities

The Tampa Bay Rays play on the west side of the state, about a four-hour drive.

Follow the Marlins at FOXSportsFlorida.com.

 

New York Mets

 

Ballpark

Citi Field, in its third year, was designed to evoke Ebbets Field, old home of the Brooklyn Dodgers and still special in New York’s baseball psyche. The bricks of Citi Field closely resemble the masonry of Ebbets Field. The similarities between baseball antiquity and today are most obvious in the entry rotunda. The steelwork is a striking feature that gives the ballpark its distinction. Lest we forget this is the home of the Mets, not the Dodgers, Citi Field also features a Big Apple that rises when a Mets player homers. It’s 16-1/2 feet tall and 18 feet in diameter. That’s a carryover from Shea Stadium. On the field, the park favored pitchers in its first two seasons.

Fans

Mets fans have the reputation of being passionate and vocal. Amateur hecklers need not apply; this is where the pros reside. As much as he hated it, even Chipper Jones had to give them kudos for the “Larry, Larry” chant when they started using his given name before his at-bats.

Food

If you’re on Long Island, you might as well enjoy a Nathan’s hot dog. These are a step up from ordinary ballpark fare. Citi Field has a varied menu — everything from sushi to NYC-style Italian heroes to Dunkin’ Donuts coffees. One spot to visit is the Taste of the City area in center field, where seafood is the specialty. Who doesn’t want a crab cake sandwich or clam chowder between innings?

Music and entertainment

The Mets will stage a hot-dog eating contest on June 4. Sponsored by Nathan’s, of course. Kids can play on a wiffle ball field that replicates Citi Field in miniature.

Neighborhood

Flushing is best known as the home of the Mets and the U.S. Open tennis tournament. There’s plenty of hustle-and-bustle, as LaGuardia airport is just down the road from Citi Field. Get away from the airports and attractions, and you’ll find working-class neighborhoods where people still live above pizzerias. Step into any of those pizza joins for the authentic New York experience.

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Vacation planner

Most visitors will head into Manhattan for the nightlife, restaurants, culture and entertainment options. If you’re sticking to Queens, the National Tennis Center is a short hop from Citi Field, right in the Flushing neighborhood. The U.S. Open is Aug. 29-Sept. 11 this year. The Rockaways is for beachgoers and was featured in the “Marine Biologist” episode of the TV show “Seinfeld.”

Nearby MLB cities

It’s a nearby borough, in this case. The Yankees play over in the Bronx, only 6-1/2 miles as the crow flies. It’s a bit trickier to navigate on the ground (or underground, in practicality). Unless you spring for a driver service, the trains are the way to go. If you’re planning a daylong excursion, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C. all are a manageable train ride away.

 

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

 

Ballpark

After 33 years at Veterans Stadium, the Phillies moved into their new state-of-the-art facility, Citizens Bank Park in 2004. The world-class ballpark — rated one of the best in the country — opened on April 3, 2004, with an exhibition game against the Cleveland Indians. Since that time, the Phillies have captured a World Series championship title, two National League pennants, and four consecutive NL East titles, while countless records have been broken both on and off the field.

World-renowned sculptor Zenos Frudakis has created four 10-foot tall bronze statues of Phillies Hall of Famers Richie Ashburn, Robin Roberts, Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt. In addition, the Phillies relocated the Connie Mack statue that was part of the Veterans Stadium and Connie Mack Stadium experiences.

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Fans

Suffice it to say all of Philadelphia fans are full of “atty-tude”, but perhaps none more than those of the Phillies. Loud from first pitch to the final out, Phillies fans will heckle the opposition and support the home team (but no player is above getting booed for a poor effort).

Food

A wide variety of food and beverages is available throughout the ballpark at permanent locations, numerous portable stands and two restaurants. Citizens Bank Park includes not only traditional ballpark fare but also plenty of foods with Philadelphia flavor.

Music and entertainment

Located near the First Base Gate, the Phanatic Phun Zone gives children eight and under an opportunity to climb, explore, play games and have the slide of their lives as they venture through a giant soft play area.

A festive outfield entertainment area open to all guests that is named in honor of Phillies legend Richie Ashburn, Ashburn Alley features a retail store (Alley Store), a variety of concession options with Philadelphia flavor, including Bull's BBQ, and picnic tables. It opens 2 1/2 hours prior game time so fans can watch batting practice. Guests may enter Ashburn Alley through the Left Field Gate. This fun area spans the entire outfield concourse.

Neighborhood

South Philly really isn’t really the place to kick it before or after a game because of its residential nature, but Chickie’s & Pete’s bar/restaurant is a strong spott and make sure to scarf some crabfries there. Center City isn’t too far away from the stadium (down Broad Street, I-95 or the subway) and it has anything a fan/club-goer/tourist could ever want.

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Vacation planner

Fly into Philadelphia International Airport, less than 15 minutes from Citizens Bank Park. Tourists should stay in Center City and enjoy all of Philadelphia’s history. Tour Independence Hall and see where the Declaration of Independence was adopted, where the American flag was agreed upon and where the U. S. Constitution was drafted. The city has a strong arts/theater scene and an hour east is the Jersey shore (not the MTV show). Hit the beaches and gamble in Atlantic City.

Nearby MLB cities

Zip two hours south on I-95 and you’ll hit gorgeous Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. One of the “older” modern stadium, it is a must-see for any fan. Another hour from there is Nationals Park, which opened in 2008. If you’re headed to New York, ditch the car and take Amtrak. Driving to/in that city can be a nightmare. In two hours, you’ll hit Manhattan’s Penn Station. From there you can use the city’s world-class subway system to New Yankee Stadium or Citi Field, home of the Mets.

 

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

 

Ballpark

One of the best features of Nationals Park is the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk. Located on the Club Level behind the Main Scoreboard, this is the cool place to be as the game heats up. Featuring an outdoor lounge, a full service bar, a newly installed 15-by25-foot HD video board, concession options and an outstanding panoramic view of the field, the Scoreboard Walk is a great place to stretch your legs around the large open plaza or kick back and relax without ever having to miss a minute of action.

Nationals Park is the nation's first professional sports venue to be LEED Silver Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. The ballpark incorporates a variety of sustainable design elements and environmentally-friendly fixtures

Fans

Washington DC is a particularly unique city, combining international cultures with local flavor. It’s a global city that recognizes its roots, and Nationals fans reflect that intersection of cultures. Our fans are passionate and knowledgeable about the history of baseball in DC.

Because Washington was without a team for more than 30 years, the team is able to reach out to new generations of baseball fans who grow up cheering for the Nationals.

Food

Nationals Park has a variety of in-park options, including the Red Loft Patio and Bar and the Red Porch Restaurant. Located above the Red Porch Restaurant, the Red Loft Patio and Bar provides a bird's-eye view of Nationals Park with one of the premiere views of the Capitol. The nostalgically decorated Red Porch, meanwhile, offers unprecedented views of the ballpark from its tables and bar area on the main concourse level in Center Field.

Nationals Park is proud to celebrate DC’s favorite food spots. New items to reflect the international tastes of this culinary capital. Highlights include: Ben’s Chili Bowl, Hard Times Café, Jerk Chicken Sandwich, Loaded Potato Chips, Loaded Dog Trio, Banh Mi Dog and the Taco Dog.

Music and entertainment

Definitely the highlight is the GEICO Presidents Race. In the middle of the 4th inning during every game, the GEICO Presidents Race features the Presidents from Mount Rushmore (George Washington, aka George; Thomas Jefferson, aka Tom; Abe Lincoln, aka Abe; and Teddy Roosevelt, aka Teddy) in a race from center field to first base.

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The Nationals have a live organist for every game and hold auditions each year. We incorporate the organist into our overall music plan and provide specific times for he/she to perform.

While individual players’ songs change from year to year, the team always enters the field to ACDC’s “Thunderstruck” and homeruns are accompanied by “Bustin’ Loose” by Washington, DC’s gogo king Chuck Brown.

Fans can also enjoy pregame entertainment from local bands and DJs at The Scoreboard Walk or take advantage of happy hour beer specials for $5 (available 2 1/2 hours prior to first pitch).

Neighborhood

Located down the street from Capitol Hill, Nationals Park is just minutes to the National Mall and the White House. The park features unparalleled views of the U.S. Capitol, Washington monument and Anacostia river. During night games, fans are treated to the stunning sight of Washington’s landmarks illuminating the city’s skyline. A variety of public transportation options are available to fans traveling to Nationals Park. The park is easily accessible via the Metro (subway) system, six Metrobus routes, water taxis and bicycle, as bike racks and a bike valet are available on site.

Vacation planner

Three airports service the greater Washington DC area: Ronald Reagan National Airport (15-20 minutes from downtown DC); Dulles Airport (45 minutes outside of Washington DC) and Baltimore/Washington International Airport (about 45 minutes to an hour outside of Washington and can be accessed by the regional MARC train, which travels to DC’s Union Station). Fans planning trip to the region would be well served to check prices into BWI airport as it serves Southwest, AirTran, United and Delta, usually at very competitive rates.

Visitors can stay anywhere in D.C. and get to Nationals Park easily via public transit. Three area hotels offer special rates for the Nationals: Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center (special packages available for select 2011 games); The Courtyard Washington/Navy Yard; and The Hyatt Regency.

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Nationals Park is situated at the center of some of America’s most important and beloved historical sites. Visitors to the area will want to spend several days in Washington, DC. Tour the White House, the Capitol building, the Smithsonian and Arlington National Cemetery. Be sure to see Mount Vernon, Williamsburg and Gettysburg.

Nearby MLB cities

The Baltimore Orioles are 40 minutes away (straight north on Interstate 295) and the Phillies are North on Interstate 95 about two hours.

Fans can also visit the Nationals’ Minor League affiliates the Potomac Nationals in Woodbridge, Va., and the Hagerstown Suns in Hagerstown, Md.

Tagged: Red Sox, Royals, Athletics, Braves, Nationals, Mets, Phillies, Padres, Marlins, Rays, Heath Bell, Ian Desmond, Eric Sogard

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