Ten years after it opened as a state-of-the-art ballpark, Huntington Park is still helping to keep the Columbus Clippers (Class AAA; International League) on solid footing.
Huntington Park was praised by many–us included–when it opened in 2009 to replace the venerable Cooper Stadium, with its design features and fan amenities cited as being among the best in Minor League Baseball at the time.
And although Huntington Park is no longer the most modern among Triple-A ballparks, it has been well-maintained over the years and the Clippers are still experiencing success. Huntington Park is still a draw for major events at the Triple-A level, evidenced by its turn last year at hosting both the Triple-A All-Star Game and the Triple-A National Championship. It also remains popular with fans, as it is a three-time winner of our annual Best of the Ballparks Triple-A vote, with its most recent victory coming last year.
"...That's why we are so amazed by what has happened here in Columbus Ohio. As badly as we wanted that historic ballpark to continue on with the traditions it had created since 1931, we were simply unprepared for what we were about to see. Huntington Park wasn't just another typical retro ballpark. In fact to say to say anything in its behalf, would likely be an understatement. This indeed, wasn't Cooper Stadium... this was in fact, so much more."
You'd think that every design innovation that could be worked into a baseball stadium had already been done. Visit Columbus, Ohio's new Huntington Park, and you'll learn that there are new things under the sun. And the ideas aren't just different. They are ideas that work beautifully. And seeing different design approaches is what makes visiting new ballparks fun. After all of the duplication of the same basic layout for Minor League parks in the past 15 years, it's a pleasure to see new ideas -- and Huntington Park has more than its fair share. All the better for baseball fans in Ohio. And that's why this unique stadium has been named our BASEBALLPARKS.COM Ballpark of the Year.
We visit Huntington Park, the new home of the Columbus Clippers. Has someone finally built the perfect ballpark? With this stunning new facility, the Clippers have come close: Combining a strong sense of place with the latest in ballpark features and an outstanding site, the creators of Huntington Park got everything right, creating a deep sense of place in a facility that's only been open a few weeks. It does provide the ultimate baseball experience, providing an amazing level of intimacy in a venue seating 10,000. Indeed, there are a lot of cool things at Huntington Park, which comes as close to perfection as we've seen in any ballpark. With an embedded sense of place, a firm grasp on the grand history of baseball and a commitment to the latest in fan comforts, Huntington Park represents the very finest in ballpark design and operations. While there are some new ballparks that come very close - as you'll see when we write about Parkview Field tomorrow - there are none better.
For all its nice places to eat and drink -- and a Roman emperor could happily gorge himself here -- Huntington Park is first and foremost a good place to watch a baseball game. The place feels like a baseball park, and although that won't be a big deal to many who come here, it is especially important to serious fans.
Merging the past with the present was the task of Clippers president and general manager Ken Schnacke and ThreeSixty Architecture. And it appears they did it right, from the seating honoring past Columbus greats (Section Two for No. 2 Derek Jeter, for instance) to the hundreds of photos and memorabilia in the bar inside the left field "warehouse" building; from the 18-foot "Mini-Green Monster" a la Boston's Fenway Park, to the knotholes along Nationwide Boulevard that allow fans to stand outside the park and watch the game for free-in the old tradition of Columbus's Knothole Gang of the 1940s and '50s, a sanctioned kids club sponsored by the Columbus Red Birds. Huntington Park will build its own memories just as Cooper Stadium and its predecessors did for more than three-quarters of a century.
Constructed with an eco- and fan-friendly design, the 10,000-seat gem just blocks from Nationwide Arena will offer bars, numerous dining options, picnic areas and an accessible homerun terrace that resembles the Green Monster. As it nears completion, the park is drawing comparisons to Cleveland's Progressive Field and Baltimore's Camden Yards - intriguing yet intimate, fancy but friendly.