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The Ballpark Year in Pictures

Big Stories of 2013: Birmingham raises the bar; Cubs say goodbye to HoHoKam; Dodgers renovate; Knights leave SC; Braves keep plans a secret; Citi Field hosts ASG; SWB opens rebuilt park; Hillsboro becomes jewel of the Northwest; Wrigley named best of the 30

At the close of every year, we give you a round-up of the biggest ballpark stories of the past 12 months. Our "Ballpark Year in Pictures" is almost like having a collection of picture postcards of all of the top news in 2013 involving pro ballparks. We check out the parks that made their debuts and we say so-long to those that are about to close.

You might find it interesting to go back and look at these year-end reviews from the past. We have links to them here.

In 2014, don't forget to check our home page often, as we update ballpark news daily. And if you're a Facebook member, please "like" our page there so you'll know when we post something new.

Sometimes a new ballpark truly raises the bar of what a Minor League facility can be. Birmingham's Regions Field did exactly that when it burst on the scene in April of 2013. After spending two decades down in the southern suburbs of Birmingham, the Southern League's Barons came back to the city in a big way, with spectacular views, a stunning architectural design and an inspired location. That's why it was named the Baseballparks.com Ballpark of the Year.

While we hope the Cubs never say goodbye to Wrigley, they did bid their longtime spring-training home in Mesa, Arizona adieu (check out our photo essay). The shot to the left shows the last Take Me Out To The Ball Game with the Cubs as the home team at HoHoKam Stadium. After significant renovations, the Oakland A's have indicated they want to play their spring exhibitions here starting in 2015. The Cubs, meanwhile, move into an impressive new complex elsewhere in Mesa.

A rather remarkable remodeling of Dodger Stadium took place prior to the 2013 season. Approximately $100 million was spent on new entryways, much wider concourses, new restrooms throughout, new play areas, new merchandise stores and especially significantly upgraded concessions.

Without a doubt, the most stunning ballpark news of the year happened in Atlanta, as the Braves managed to keep their plans for a new ballpark a secret as they acquired the parcels of land they needed. When they announced their plans, most of us were stunned, as the team had prevented any leaks or rumors from seeping out beforehand. 2016 will be the last season for Turner Field, as the new park is expected to be ready for Opening Day 2017.

The 2013 All Star Game was held at one of the Majors' most under-rated parks: New York's Citi Field. The Mets and their ballpark were tremendous hosts, and shortly thereafter, the team announced plans for significant development to the north and east of the stadium's exterior.

We're saying goodbye to the home of the Charlotte Knights -- which isn't going to be missed, and wasn't in Charlotte or even in North Carolina! No, the team has played across the state line in South Carolina for the past 23 years. A new state-of-the-art ballpark will open in April 2014 in downtown Charlotte, and finally the Knights will be playing in the city in their team name.

Another park that is being abandoned by affiliated Minor League Baseball is in Tucson, where the PCL's Padres have been playing while waiting for a market to open up for them (after both Portland and Escondido turned their backs on the team). The franchise moves into a brand-new park in El Paso in April 2014.

It was opening night at the brand-new ballpark in the Portland suburb of Hillsboro, and what a special evening it was. Read all about Hillsboro Ballpark and its successful debut in our in-depth review of the park.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre wanted to significantly upgrade its park, but there was no way to do it without tearing it down and starting over. So that's what they did, as their team played away from home for the entire 2012 season. When they returned in 2013, they had a new name (RailRiders) and a spectacular new ballpark, as PNC Field is as nice as any in Triple-A. Here's our in-depth review.

The playing field didn't fit very well, but baseball came to San Antonio's Alamodome for the very first time in March 2013. The Rangers and Padres played two exhibition games in the same place that's hosted Final Fours, the NFL, the NBA, massive concerts, rodeos, soccer and even ice hockey. Check out our photo essay on the weekend.

Wrigley Field, at 99 years old, is anything but a worn-out relic. In fact, the stately edifice at the corner of Clark and Addison was named the best ballpark in the Majors in a season-long countdown by USA Today Sports Weekly. Oh, the author of those 30 articles? Me.

Visit our 2012 Ballpark Year In Review here.

Return to the Ballpark Essays page

What do you think was the biggest ballpark story of 2013? Have any thoughts about the news items above? Post a comment below: