Best of the Ballparks 2017: Independent Baseball, Final Four

ballparkdigest_2014It’s the American Association versus the Frontier League in the Best of the Ballparks 2017 independent-baseball Final Four round, as fans select their favorite venues in a bracketed vote. We’re down to four — so vote!

We have two American Association ballparks facing off in one round — The Depot at Cleburne Stadium and U.S. Steel Yard — and an American Association ballpark going up against a Frontier League ballpark in the other: AirHogs Stadium vs. Rent One Park. With over 71,000 fans weighing in just on their favorite indy ballpark and 273,000 fans voting overall amongst all Best of the Ballparks categories.

You have until June 29, 7 a.m. Eastern, to register your Final Four choices.

We are running the contest with seeded brackets, so there will be plenty of action in coming days. Voting for summer-collegiate ballparks is underway. Soon we’ll begin the vote on short season A and rookie-league ballparks. And, of course, the MLB parks stand on their own.

We know from marketing stats a third of our readers work in the baseball industry, so we’re tapping into that collective expertise. And we know from our research that a third of our readers sell to the baseball industry, so that expertise will be valuable as well. The remaining third — fans, media, government — will certainly have a different view on things as well. We can’t wait to see what our readers — whom we consider to be the smartest folks in baseball — say about the best of the ballparks.

Some notes on the voting, as we’ve overhauled our bracketing and voting system. First, you are allowed to vote multiple times, but you can only vote once per day. Second, you don’t need to fill out a full slate: partially filled votes will count.

Here is our ranking of the top 32 independent ballparks. This is partially based on prior votes (last year’s results in early rounds helped us pare this list from 50+ to 32) and partially based on our visits. Occupying the top spot is TD Bank Ballpark, home of the Somerset Patriots, the winner of the Best of the Ballparks 2016 voting. TD Bank Ballpark was also our 2015 winner, making for an amazing feat: we know from running this contest that it’s really, really hard to repeat. Yes, we know there are some good independent ballparks aside from this 32, but we went back to last year’s vote and adjusted this seeding to reward teams whose fans turned out to vote.

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