Been a while: Oldest Minor League ballparks
The majority of Minor League Baseball ballparks were built in the 21st century. Six debuted in 2021 alone, and many more are likely to appear as the 2020s progress. But what about the ballparks on the other side of the spectrum? Those that have been around the longest? The top
The majority of Minor League Baseball ballparks were built in the 21st century. Six debuted in 2021 alone, and many more are likely to appear as the 2020s progress.
But what about the ballparks on the other side of the spectrum? Those that have been around the longest? The top 10 oldest stadiums in Minor League Baseball is actually a top 11, as two teams occupy the 10 spot. What follows is a look at these venerable facilities, the oldest of which are now in their second century of existence. All of these ballparks are, of course, well worth visiting. In the listings below, click on the stadium name to read its Minor League Ballpark Guide entry.
Jackie Robinson Ballpark (Daytona Beach, Fla.)
Opened: 1914 as City Island Ballpark
First Minor League tenant: Daytona Islanders (Florida State League, 1920)
Current Minor League tenant: Daytona Tortugas (Single-A Cincinnati affiliate in the Florida State League; established as the Daytona Cubs in 1993)
In 1989, 75 years after it opened, Daytona Beach's City Island Ballpark was named after Jackie Robinson. This rechristening was in honor of the events of 1946, when Robinson played at City Island Ballpark during Spring Training. This marked his first appearance as an active player in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization, more than one year before his epochal Major League debut. When City Island Ballpark opened during the Woodrow Wilson administration, it was little more than a playing field and wooden bleachers. Of course, many improvements have occurred since, with one of the most recent being an HD videoboard to complement the vintage hand-operated scoreboard in left field.
LECOM Park (Bradenton, Fla.)
Opened: 1923 as City Park
First Minor League tenant: Bradenton Growers (Florida State League, 1923)
Current Minor League tenant: Bradenton Marauders (Single-A Pittsburgh affiliate in the Florida State League; established in 2010)
LECOM Park, which also serves as the Pittsburgh Pirates' Spring Training home, has hosted the Marauders since 2010. Prior to that, once would have to go back to 1926 to find the last time that this Spanish Mission-style facility hosted a Minor League team. Spring Training has been a near-constant, however, beginning with the 1923 St. Louis Cardinals. The LECOM Park moniker was adopted in 2018; from 1962 through 2017 it was known as McKechnie Field in honor of Hall of Famer (and longtime Bradenton resident) Bill McKechnie.
McCormick Field (Asheville, N.C.)
First Minor League tenant: Asheville Tourists (South Atlantic League, 1924)
Current Minor League tenant: Asheville Tourists (High-A affiliate of the Houston Astros in the South Atlantic League; established in 1914 and continuously in operation since 1966)
The Asheville Tourists' name dates back to 1914, and they are now one of the longest-running entities in Minor League Baseball. There have been many league and affiliation changes over the years, as well as several periods in which the franchise was non-operational. But on the whole, the relationship between team and ballpark has been one of remarkable consistency. McCormick Field, a throwback ballpark in every sense of the word, features a hilly wooded backdrop and a carnival-esque atmosphere on the external concourse.
Modern Woodmen Park (Davenport, Iowa)
Opened: 1931 as Municipal Stadium
First Minor League tenant: Davenport Blue Sox (Mississippi Valley League, 1931)
Current Minor League tenant: Quad Cities River Bandits (High-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals in the Midwest League; established in 1960 as the Davenport Braves)
The Quad Cities are technically the Quint Cities, comprised of Davenport and Bettendorf in southeast Iowa and Rock Island, Moline and East Moline in northwest Illinois. Modern Woodmen Park, located in Davenport, is situated on the banks of the Mississippi River and features views of the Centennial Bridge crossing the river into Rock Island. A Ferris wheel, constructed on the left-field concourse in 2014, adds to the ambience.
Bank of the James Stadium (Lynchburg, Va.)
Opened: 1940 as City Stadium
First Minor League tenant: Lynchburg Senators (Virginia League, 1940)
Current Minor League tenant: Lynchburg Hillcats (Single-A Cleveland Guardians affiliate in the Carolina League; established in 1963 as the Lynchburg White Sox)
Bank of the James Stadium adopted its current moniker in 2020, but throughout the majority of its existence it had simply been known as City Stadium. The ballpark was built in tandem with a football stadium located on the third-base side, which is also still in use. The Hillcats name was adopted in 1995, 20 years prior to their ongoing affiliation with the Cleveland Guardians. The Elmore Sports Group bought the team prior to the 2016 season and soon initiated a series of improvements that modernized the facility.
Excite Ballpark (San Jose, Calif.)
First Minor League tenant: San Jose Owls (California League, 1942)
Current Minor League tenant: San Jose Giants (Single-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants in the California League; established in 1962 as the San Jose Bees)
The San Jose Giants appear on two notable Top 10 lists -- oldest ballparks and longest affiliations, as their partnership with San Francisco dates back to 1988. With the exception of a two-year stint in the Pacific Coast League, Excite Ballpark has hosted a California League team in nearly every season since 1942. Originally known as Municipal Stadium, the facility was constructed during the Roosevelt administration as a Works Progress Administration project. These days, it is well-loved for its the whimsical concourse artwork as well as exemplary churros and barbecue.
Valley Strong Ballpark (Visalia, Calif.)
First Minor League tenant: Visalia Cubs (California League, 1946)
Current Minor League tenant: Visalia Rawhide (Single-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the California League; continuously in operation since 1977)
From San Jose, it's an approximately three-hour drive to the next oldest Minor League stadium, Visalia's Valley Strong Ballpark. Also like San Jose, Valley Strong Ballpark has a long history of hosting California League baseball. Visalia's Rawhide moniker was adopted in 2009, marking the first occasion in which the city's team wasn't named after its parent club. Valley Strong Ballpark's current grandstand was constructed in 1963, comprised of dirt repurposed from Route 198 construction efforts and then poured over with concrete and gunite. Capacity and amenities have been expanded via a series of renovation projects, resulting in expanded berm and group areas.
Funko Field (Everett, Wash.)
Opened: 1947 as Everett Memorial Stadium
First Minor League tenant: Everett Giants (Northwest League, 1984)
Current Minor League tenant: Everett AquaSox (High-A Seattle Mariners affiliate in the Northwest League; established as the Everett Giants in 1984)
Funko Field is an anomaly among the parks on this list, in that it was open for the better part of three decades before hosting a Minor League team. That team was the Everett Giants, who debuted in 1984 and became the AquaSox in 1995 following an affiliation change from San Francisco to Seattle. The Funko Field name was adopted in 2019, the result of a naming rights deal with the Everett-based toy company. The ballpark, part of a much larger athletic complex, is owned by the Everett School District.
Grainger Stadium (Kinston, N.C.)
First Minor League tenant: Kinston Eagles (Coastal Plain League, 1949)
Current Minor League tenant: Down East Wood Ducks (Single-A Texas Rangers affiliate in the Carolina League; established in 2017)
After a five-season absence, Minor League Baseball returned to Kinston, N.C., in 2017 in the form of the Down East Wood Ducks (named for a region of North Carolina located in close proximity to Kinston). The Wood Ducks are therefore the latest chapter in Grainger Stadium's long Carolina League history, which began in 1956 and had its longest stretch of continuous operation between 1978 and 2011. One of the park's most unique elements is actually just outside of the park itself, as a water tower emblazoned with the Wood Ducks logo looms beyond left field.
FirstEnergy Stadium (Reading, Pa.)
Opened: 1951 as Municipal Stadium
First Minor League tenant: Reading Indians (Eastern League, 1952)
Current Minor League tenant: Reading Fightin Phils (Double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Philadelphia Phillies in the Eastern League; established in 1967 as the Reading Phillies)
Minor League Baseball and Reading, Pa., go hand-in-hand. FirstEnergy Stadium opened in 1951 as Municipal Stadium and began hosting an Eastern League team the following season. The Reading Phillies debuted in 1967, beginning an affiliation that is currently tied for the longest in Minor League Baseball. FirstEnergy Stadium has long had a reputation for its "best of both worlds" appeal, combining a throwback feel with an oft-zany larger atmosphere populated by beloved cult figures such as the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor and his pet ostrich, Rodrigo.
Nat Bailey Stadium (Vancouver, B.C., Canada)
Opened: 1951 as Capilano Stadium
First Minor League tenant: Vancouver Capilanos (Western International League)
Current Minor League tenant: Vancouver Canadians (High-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays in the Northwest League; established in 2000)
Canada's oldest Minor League ballpark is also Canada's only Minor League ballpark. Nat Bailey Stadium, christened as such in 1978 in honor of a local restaurateur, has been a consistent presence on the Minor League scene for 70 years. The Canadians have been part of the Northwest League since 2000, but from 1978 through 1999 a Triple-A Pacific Coast League iteration of the Canadians called Nat Bailey Stadium home.