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Citizens Bank Park Critique…

Adam BernacchioAnalyst IIIJune 11, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 17: The Philadelphia Phillies run onto the field past the autograph of recently departed Philadelphia Phillies announcer Harry Kalas during the game against the San Diego Padres on April 17, 2009 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Kalas died of a heart attack on April 13, 2009 in Washington, D.C. after falling unconscious in the press box before the Washington Nationals home opener against the Phillies. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

In the next installment in the “Stadium 411″ series, we are going to take a look at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. This critique was given by a great defensive first baseman, a man who faced Carl Pavano in high school and a man who drank all my iced-tea in college…Jon Liberatore.

Jon also gave a Citi Field critique, which you can find here.

Last summer I had an opportunity to check out Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia while the Mets were in town over July 4th weekend.  As a lifelong Mets fan I’ve enjoyed watching the rivalry escalate between the two ball clubs when they’ve played each other over the past several years, so I decided to venture down the Turnpike and check things out for myself. Especially since I heard several positive reviews from other friends who had gone there.

For a 7:05pm start, we arrived at the park around 4:00pm or so to take advantage of the McFadden’s Bar and Grill (which by the way was the largest I’ve seen - and I’ve been to the ones in NYC, Providence, and downtown Philly).  From the moment we walked through the door we were immediately greeted by a hostess (very good looking I might add) and she showed us the way to the main bar area, which is a giant rectangle in the center of the venue. 

There was one-level to the place (and a outdoor patio area where there were TVs as well), very spacious and with high ceilings.  Everywhere you turned there was a flatscreen TV in view, tuned in to various programs (MLB TV, ESPN, etc.), and the place already had a decent sized crowd.

I was quite impressed with the ratio of staff to patrons – you couldn’t walk three feet without bumping elbows with a busboy or server, coupled with the number of bartenders that were working (I must have counted at least six or so). 

Bartenders were very pleasant and you can tell that it wasn’t their first day on the job.  So after finishing our last Yuenglings (seems to be the official beer of Philly), we headed down this narrow alleyway off in the corner, which let straight to the entrance to the ballpark. We didn’t even have to walk outside and then ‘back into’ the place.

The design of the ballpark followed the trend of the other retro-style themed ones. The city skyline was visible off into the distance and a huge replica of the Liberty Bell in center field, which lights up and ‘rings’ when a Phillies player goes yard (in this case it was Ryan Howard, shocker I know). 

Once we got to our seats (RF upper deck) we found ourselves amidst a sea of orange and blue. Amazing how many fans from New Jersey trekked across the Delaware River for the game. Literally half the upper deck area of the entire park consisted of Mets fans. 

Around the third inning or so we headed down to check out Ashburn Alley, probably my favorite part of the game.  Ashburn Alley is the outfield concourse area consisting of several places to eat, plenty of standing room to watch, and some picnic table areas/ bar stools to hang out. 

There must have been a two to one cheesesteak to person ratio.  If you’re not a cheesesteak aficionado (or happen to be vegan for that matter) there are other non-meat based options to nosh on as well. 

Shortly after we continued to walk around the park to really get a feel for what it offered. While doing so I noticed a couple interesting things on the lower level: 

  1. All the concession stands have their ‘backs’ to the walkway, so when your in line/ordering food you have an unobstructed view of the field.
  2. If you are sitting in the lower level area, the usher won’t let you head down to your seats until the batter has either been retired or reaches base (something you’d NEVER see in NY), which I thought was a great display of etiquette to the fans.

Pros: The intimacy/retro-feel of the park, food/drink prices are reasonable, Ashburn Alley, McFadden’s on-site, and not a bad seat in the house. 

Cons: It is quite a hike from downtown Philly (especially if you’re looking to go out in the city afterwards), and hailing a cab after the game is a daunting task.

Overall Gameday Experience:  I give this park a 9 out of 10.  Everything from A through Z was done with baseball etiquette in mind for fans of the game.  Had the ballpark itself not been built on the outskirts of town and had it not taken us about 30 minutes to hail a cab, I would’ve given it a perfect 10.

Thanks to Jon for this great critique. If anyone else would like to give a critique of a ballpark they have been to, email me at abernacchio77@hotmail.com

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