A Phun Ballpark
Philly And Its Baseball Team
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is called the City of Brotherly Love. Deeply rooted in American history, it has always had one of the largest populations in the US. Because of this, Philadelphia is one of few cities with a team in all four major sports.
The Philadelphia Phillies of the National League have been around the longest. First coming into existence in 1883, the Phillies have had their successes, but also plenty of frustration. It took them 97 years to win their first World Series before they won it all in 1980. Prior to that, the Phillies only made two other appearances in the Fall Classic, 1915 and 1950.
Struggling To Find A Home
The Phillies have had four primary homes since 1900. The first of these was the Baker Bowl. Known for its short dimensions in right field (280 ft), the tallest wall (60 ft), and its wooden bleachers that caught fire on multiple occasions. The Phillies played here until 1938 before they moved into Shibe Park (later called Connie Mack Stadium). While Shibe Park was an intimate place to watch a ball game, it had aged enough that by 1970 the Phillies and their fans were ready to move on.
No one was sad to see Veterans Stadium go. Seen here before its final game in 2003.
Enter in Veterans Stadium. While the Phillies had success in the mid 70s and early 80s here, culminating in that 1980 championship, there’s really nothing good that can be said about the stadium. One of the cookie cutter stadiums which popped up in the late 60s to early 70s that was home to both NFL and MLB teams, it was the largest of its kind (62,000 plus capacity for baseball). It was also probably the worst stadium of the second half of the twentieth century. Nobody liked playing there. Not NFL players, not MLB players, and fans hated watching games there too. When The Vet closed its door in 2003, nobody was sad to see it go.
Phinally, A Ballpark!
When the 2004 season began, you can imagine how excited Phillies fans were to see their team in a brand new stadium they wouldn’t have to share with the NFL’s Eagles. Like many MLB cities before it, the new ballpark was built next to the old stadium. No city deserved a new ballpark more than Philadelphia.
Philadelphia is interesting when it come to their professional sports venues. The Phillies, Eagles, 76ers and Flyers venues are all located on the Philadelphia Sports Complex. This makes it convenient because it allows fans to avoid the hassles of going into downtown Philadelphia. If you’re coming from out of town, stay at the Holiday Inn on the complex. This is what we did. The ballpark is in walking distance from the hotel and we saved on parking. Win win right there.
My first game at Citizens Bank Park was on a Friday night in June 2017 between the Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks. Like I always do my first time at a new ballpark, I got there early to take in the sights and sounds the place as to offer. We took in a little batting practice (no luck) too.
Citizens Bank Park is formed by multi-story buildings that contain fan facilities, team offices, and services. The four corners of the ballpark feature landscaped entrance plazas. Out in the outfield, you will find the Phillies Wall of Fame and a mural illustrating the history of the Phillies. The eras are divided by the ballparks the Phillies played in.
My all time favorite player Jim Thome, spent three years with the Phillies.
The shape of the ballpark is interesting too. Sections mean at sharp angles rather then the ballpark forming a semi circle. This was inspired by the design at Shibe Park. Like Shibe Park, the upper and lower sections of the stadium do not correspond with one another. This allows for more open areas in the ballpark. I can attest, both the upper and lower levels have roomy concourses with plenty of room to mill around. You can walk around pretty much the entire ballpark and still see the playing field the entire time.
If you are sitting behind home plate, you can look into the distance and see the Philadelphia skyline. This creates a pretty cool view at night with the skyline looking like something out of a movie. In right-center field stands the Liberty Bell. Ringing after every Phillies home run, the bell and clapper sway from side to side independently. The bell is 35 by 50 feet and can be heard throughout the ballpark.
When it comes to the food there, you have your choices of the traditional ballpark eats or the Philadelphia legends. While Philly is known for their cheesesteaks, I recommend Chickie’s & Pete’s Crabfries. They have secret ingredients (yeah, gasp) and are served with two sides of white creamy cheese sauce. I recommend finding a table and having two hands available for these fries. There’s only 19 Chickie’s & Pete’s locations, so you know it’s uniquely Philadelphia. If you’re a vegetarian, this is probably your favorite ballpark. Six of the last seven years it has been named number one MLB ballpark in vegetarian options.
For your in game entertainment, look no further then probably the most famous mascot in baseball, the Phillie Phanatic. We are not sure what he is, but he’s entertaining fella, nonetheless. Kids will love the Phanatic and other kids features there. The Phanatic Phood Cart offers kids friendly food choices. While the Phanatic Phun Zone gives children eight and under an opportunity to climb, explore, play games and have the slide of their lives as they venture through a giant soft play area.
You obviously cannot forget the giant HD scoreboard in left field. It even includes closed captioning to assist hearing impaired fans. In 2016 the Phillies added an auxiliary LED video display known as “PhanaVision II” in the right field grandstand area. I suppose you can call it a phun ballpark.
Overall, I enjoyed Citizens Bank Park. It is not my favorite place to watch a game, but I wouldn’t mind going back there. It’s a good place to watch a game with plenty of good views. Check it out for yourself, sometime.