Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Citizens Bank Ballpark

People who don't care about baseball can skip this one. Yesterday I went with a friend to Philadelphia to see the Phillies-Marlins game at the Phillies' relatively new stadium, Citizens Bank Park. Nice stadium, like all the new-ish parks I've seen. They borrowed liberally from Camden Yards, creating a boulevard-like walkway with stores and concessions right inside the entrance. There's a nice Phillies Hall of Fame / History of the Phillies exhibit, including a somewhat-overblown "secrets of the Phillies" pitching plaques, showing how to throw a fastball, curveball, etc. These aren't secrets of the Phillies. Especially not with how the Phillies pitchers are doing this year.

Unfortunately, the stadium concessionaire is Aramark, who also control the food and beverage at Shea Stadium and lots of other places. They're very good at serving lousy, overpriced food made to seem more regional and unique than it actually is. Each concession stand seemed to have a different name -- "Cobblestone Grill," "Old City Creamery," "South Philadelphia Market," "Hatfield Grill," "Fairmount Fries," etc -- but, really, they all served the same thing. Hot dogs, sausage, fries, nachos, pretzels -- the generic Aramark concession food, all cooked about a week ago and served under heat lamps. There were a couple of unique items -- there was a Geno's cheesesteak stand, where you could get an Aramark cheesesteak with the Geno's name for $7.25. Underwhelming. I've had real Philly cheesesteaks. This was not. This was overpriced ballpark food. They had a stand called "Bull's BBQ" which was trying to be "Boog's BBQ" from Camden Yards, but didn't look as good (didn't try it, so I'm only going by what I saw). Someone can tell me whether I missed out by not trying the "Crab Fries," which appeared to be regular french fries dusted with Old Bay seasoning. I was intrigued, repeatedly, but not intrigued enough to buy them. But maybe I should have. Google tells me I should have. Oh well. I don't mean to rag on the stadium food having only tried the crappy cheesesteak.

But besides the food, it's a really nice stadium. The concourses are wide, there's lots of open space to see the field while you're walking around, and our $27.50 terrace-level seats were awesome. You feel like you're much closer to the field -- you *are* much closer to the field -- than at a place like Veterans Stadium, where the Phillies played before this. No complaints about the seating areas. Great view of the field. Nice scoreboards, good sound, good atmosphere.

Terribly unethusiastic fans, although that may have been because of the rain that delayed the start of the game by 40 minutes. But no brawls. I saw a game at Veterand Stadium about 8 years ago and was in the 700-level, way up high, and about a dozen people got kicked out for fighting. It was fun.

Sitting in front of us was a family where two kids were celebrating birthdays. They have a guy who comes around and makes the section sing happy birthday and throws confetti at them. The older couple next to me was entertaining -- it may have been the wife's first baseball game and she kept asking her husband questions about why the players are running in the direction they're running in, and whether the balls were fair or foul, and where to look to see the score. She also got seriously frightened by the cannon that shoots t-shirts into the crowd in between a couple of the innings.

After a homerun, the neon liberty bell lights up and rings, and the scoreboards are bathed in a pink and purple home run design. A little bit like a pinball game, my friend noted. And there were a bunch of home runs. Backup catcher Todd Pratt had one of the best days of his major league career, and my new favorite Phillie (he's on two of my fantasy baseball teams) Chase Utley had a 3-run homer and a couple of other hits. Lots of hits by both teams. Lots of lousy pitching. A new Marlins reliever with a name that sounded like an Austin Powers character (Randy Messenger).

Easy parking, a view of the Philly skyline, some flowers growing in a ledge by the wall, nice landscaping, nice architecture, it's a nice ballpark. If the Mets can do as good a job with their new stadium, I'll be pleased.