A Ranking of Ballparks by Walkability

In light of how individual humans not only possess unique genetic traits but are also exposed to a unique collection of experiences as young people and then less young people, it is not surprising to find that they also develop preferences that are distinct from those possessed by all the other humans around them. Some like the color red, for example, while others prefer green. Some enjoy the taste of cilantro, while others seem compelled to curse its existence. Some even appreciate the work of Canadian rock band Rush, while others are not my roommate Dan from college.

Despite the wide range of tastes possessed by the individual specimens of our dumb species, there do also appear to be some cases of general agreement. In some instances, the reasons are obvious. Humans tends to prefer temperatures in the vicinity of 70 degrees, probably, because anything much colder or much warmer actually becomes a health liability. In some instances, the reasons are more obscure, but the effects are detectable anyway. This appears to be the case with physical spaces. People, it seems, are naturally drawn to areas that facilitate pedestrian traffic — and are built according to what urban designer Jan Gehl, who has studied the matter in some depth, characterizes as “human scale.”

Five years ago, I wondered which ballparks, by virtue of their location, might best lend themselves to human scale (although that’s not exactly how I phrased it). After a very poor attempt at answering the question, I published a less poor attempt at answering it using the walkability metrics available at Walk Score. Because they are based on proximity to shops and cafes and other services relevant to daily life, the Walk Scores figures aren’t necessarily a perfect representation of human scale, but they nevertheless serve as a decent proxy.

Here is a basic explanation of what the walk scores signify:

  • 90–100 Walker’s Paradise
    Daily errands do not require a car
  • 70–89 Very Walkable
    Most errands can be accomplished on foot
  • 50–69 Somewhat Walkable
    Some errands can be accomplished on foot
  • 25–49 Car-Dependent
    Most errands require a car
  • 0–24 Car-Dependent
    Almost all errands require a car

There’s more to say about using the scores as an indicator of walkability around a park. First, though, here are the current numbers for all 30 major-league teams. (Walk dnotes Walk Score, while zWalk denotes standard deviations above and below the mean Walk Score for the league’s 30 stadia.)

Major-League Parks by Walk Score, 2018
Rk Team Park City State Walk zWalk
1 Red Sox Fenway Park Boston MA 96 1.2
2 Blue Jays Rogers Centre Toronto ON 95 1.2
3 Yankees Yankee Stadium Bronx NY 93 1.1
4 Cubs Wrigley Field Chicago IL 92 1.1
5 Rockies Coors Field Denver CO 88 0.9
6 Indians Progressive Field Cleveland OH 87 0.9
7 Twins Target Field Minneapolis MN 87 0.9
8 Nationals Nationals Park Washington DC 86 0.8
9 Giants AT&T Park San Francisco CA 86 0.8
10 Padres Petco Park San Diego CA 85 0.8
11 Tigers Comerica Park Detroit MI 83 0.7
12 Orioles Camden Yards Baltmore MD 81 0.6
13 Marlins Marlins Park Miami FL 77 0.5
14 Pirates PNC Park Pittsburgh PA 77 0.5
15 Reds Great American Ball Park Cincinnati OH 74 0.4
16 Cardinals Busch Stadium St. Louis MO 73 0.3
17 Astros Minute Maid Park Houston TX 71 0.2
18 White Sox Guaranteed Rate Field Chicago IL 67 0.1
19 D-backs Chase Field Phoenix AZ 63 -0.1
20 Mariners Safeco Field Seattle WA 60 -0.2
21 Rays Tropicana Field St. Petersburg FL 53 -0.5
22 Mets Citi Field Queens NY 50 -0.6
23 Angels Angel Stadium Anaheim CA 39 -1.0
24 Phillies Citizens Bank Park Philadelphia PA 38 -1.0
25 Braves SunTrust Park Atlanta GA 35 -1.2
26 Rangers Globe Life Park Arlington TX 29 -1.4
27 Dodgers Dodger Stadium Los Angeles CA 22 -1.7
28 Royals Kauffman Stadium Kansas City MO 22 -1.7
29 Athletics Oakland Coliseum Oakland CA 22 -1.7
30 Brewers Miller Park Milwaukee WI 15 -1.9
Data c/o walkscore.com.

By this measure, the areas around Fenway Park, the Rogers Centre, and Yankee Stadium are best for walking, while the areas around Miller Park, the Oakland Coliseum, and Kauffman Stadium are least well suited to it. Some visual evidence supports the most extreme cases.

Here, for example, is the street-view image provided by Google when searching for Fenway Park in Boston:

And the same thing for Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City:

In the former image, one finds a relatively narrow street and indications of commerce; in the latter, one finds more open space and little else. Open space has its virtues, of course — without the benefit of the expansive Bonneville Salt Flats, for example, it would be nearly impossible to write and shoot a car commercial — but it doesn’t facilitate much in the way of spontaneous pedestrian traffic.

I should note one curisoity that I observed while gathering this data — namely, that there is sometimes a difference between the walk scores assessed to a stadium depending on whether one is using that stadium’s “official address” or the GPS coordinates. I’ve used the official address for the purposes of constructing the table above because the coordinates didn’t work in every case with Walk Score’s interface. That said, there are differences that merit attention. For example, using the official address for Safeco Field (1516 1st Avenue South) elicits a Walk Score of just 60. The park’s official coordinates (47°35?29?N 122°19?57?W), however, return a Walk Score of 71. If the reader is compelled to mentally adjust the Mariners’ score because of this, I am hardly going to stop him or her or them.

Finally, it’s probably worth comparing the data here to the same data from five years ago. It’s also probably worth noting that it should only be regarded with the caveat that I can’t guarantee I used the same precise format (i.e. official address) in the first version of this post.

MLB Walk Scores, 2013 vs. -18
Team 13 Walk 18 Walk Diff 13 zWalk 18 zWalk zDiff
1 Nationals 66 86 20 -0.4 0.8 1.2
2 Rockies 77 88 11 0.2 0.9 0.7
3 Royals 25 22 -3 -2.5 -1.8 0.7
4 Braves 38 35 -3 -1.8 -1.3 0.5
5 Yankees 85 93 8 0.6 1.1 0.5
6 White Sox 65 67 2 -0.4 0.0 0.4
7 Marlins 78 77 -1 0.3 0.4 0.2
8 Cubs 91 92 1 0.9 1.0 0.1
9 Indians 88 87 -1 0.8 0.8 0.0
10 Padres 86 85 -1 0.7 0.7 0.0
11 Orioles 85 81 -4 0.6 0.6 0.0
12 Red Sox 97 96 -1 1.2 1.2 0.0
13 Blue Jays 97 95 -2 1.2 1.2 0.0
14 Phillies 51 38 -13 -1.1 -1.2 -0.1
15 Twins 91 87 -4 0.9 0.8 -0.1
16 Angels 54 39 -15 -1.0 -1.1 -0.1
17 Brewers 35 15 -20 -2.0 -2.1 -0.2
18 Giants 92 86 -6 1.0 0.8 -0.2
19 Reds 83 74 -9 0.5 0.3 -0.2
20 Tigers 91 83 -8 0.9 0.7 -0.2
21 Astros 82 71 -11 0.5 0.2 -0.3
22 Pirates 86 77 -9 0.7 0.4 -0.3
23 Athletics 45 22 -23 -1.4 -1.8 -0.4
24 Rangers 52 29 -23 -1.1 -1.5 -0.4
25 Mets 68 50 -18 -0.3 -0.7 -0.4
26 D-backs 82 63 -19 0.5 -0.1 -0.6
27 Cardinals 91 73 -18 0.9 0.3 -0.6
28 Mariners 80 60 -20 0.4 -0.3 -0.7
29 Rays 75 53 -22 0.1 -0.6 -0.7
30 Dodgers 58 22 -36 -0.8 -1.7 -0.9
Data c/o walkscore.com.

The Nationals and Rockies have, in theory exhibited the most improvement in terms of walkability over the last five years, perhaps as a result of (a) development around their respective stadia or (b) differences in Walk Score’s methodology or (c) user error. In each case, option (c) is most likely — and the most likely explanation for why the scores for the clubs at the bottom (the Dodgers, Mariners, and Rays) have decreased the most.

Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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4 years ago

LOLing at Dodger Stadium

4 years ago
Reply to  jamesdakrn

Ironically, Dodger hitters have the highest BB% in the MLB…

4 years ago
Reply to  jamesdakrn

I was honestly surprised dodgers stadium wasn’t the very bottom of the first list. Granted I havent been to many of the stadiums. But walkability to dodgers stadium is virtually 0. Add on top of that they charge you almost as much as a ticket to the game to park your car ($25!? – thanks McCourt! – He still owns part of the parking lot.)… Well, let’s just say I’ve been to less games this season than any season I can remember in recent history.

4 years ago
Reply to  Ingtot

Fans of other teams like to shit on Dodger fans but seriously you try hopping on the freeway to catch the game on a Friday evening. Virtually impossible to make it on time if you have a 9-5 job.

Once left Burbank about an hr to go. Got to the bottom of Chavez Ravine in under 20 min, then took us 40 minutes to get into the stadium in the last mile. It’s atrocious at times

4 years ago
Reply to  jamesdakrn

There are back entrances that don’t go up that main ramp that are much easier to drive through, Vin Scully Ave or Stadium Way.

4 years ago
Reply to  Bip

Academy Road FTW!

4 years ago
Reply to  jamesdakrn

Inside the stadium is great! Always loved it. It’s getting there that is the problem.

wily momember
4 years ago
Reply to  Ingtot

i quibble with this whole thing a little bit. i walk to dodger stadium as a matter of course. granted, i’m an inveterate walker. but – yes, there’s the gigantic parking lot you need to navigate, but if you can cross that and sneak out the back down vin scully ave, sunset is right there, and once you make it there it’s about as walkable as LA ever gets.

granted, i park for games, like, over behind echo park lake, so it’s possible that i’m just sort of crazy

Roger McDowell Hot Foot
4 years ago
Reply to  wily mo

LA as a whole is vastly underrated for walkability! (Probably because almost no one does it.)

4 years ago

Considering that most people think walkability in LA is negative, it is underrated almost by default.

That said, I know people who live in the downtown area of LA which is very walkable, and there are many neighborhoods that are quite walkable (within the neighborhood, not across them).

4 years ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I relate it to walking on the surface of the sun. Though I would assume that AZ would be worse. I barely ever see clouds out here to block the evil, evil sun.
(Obviously biased opinion of a fair skinned person who wishes they had more melanin)

4 years ago
Reply to  wily mo

I’m always on board with a fellow walker, but…it sounds to me like you are not walking to the stadium, but rather driving to somewhere near the stadium and parking really far away. Is this what the song means when they say Nobody Walks in LA?

wily momember
4 years ago
Reply to  docgooden85

wait, what’s the difference

4 years ago
Reply to  wily mo

If you’re walking, why did you park? Maybe that’s what passes for walking in LA?

wily momember
4 years ago
Reply to  bly

yes. we’re really talking about walking all the way from your house to the stadium? lol this is LA

Baron Samedi
4 years ago
Reply to  Ingtot

live in echo park, walk to dodger stadium

4 years ago
Reply to  Baron Samedi

Everyone walks to the Short Stop after Dodgers games