Although Camden is a city of its own (population 77,000), it really serves as a large suburb of Philadelphia. Yet, in the shadow of the behemoth that is the Philadelphia Phillies, an independent league team has carved out a niche in the New Jersey town. The Camden Riversharks were founded in 2001, and have played all 11 seasons at Campbell's Field, situated right on the Delaware River.
The view when you enter the stadium is breathtaking - the Benjamin Franklin Bridge dominates the backdrop, with the Philadelphia skyline just over the 3rd-base seats. This way, Camden fans feel more of a connection to the baseball-crazed town of Philadelphia. Citizens Bank Park might be the professional standard of baseball stadiums, but the sister city to Philly might have set the minor league standard in its own right.
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Anything you could want at a minor league ballpark (or even most major league stadiums), Campbell's Field has. Basic stadium fare? Check, sodas are $3.75 or $5, a tasty chicken finger basket runs $7.50 (or $9 for a meal), in addition to the usual hot dogs, fries, burgers, and the like. Philly cheesesteaks? Check, for $7.50. Made by Philly's own Steaks on South, you can even get a chicken cheesesteak or buffalo chicken for the same price.
Campbell's Field also features a gyro stand ($7.50), Chickie's and Pete's crab fries ($7), and Turkey Hill Ice Cream ($3.75/$5.75). There's also a lemonade and funnel cake stand, where you can get your fried sugar bread for $6. And, if you want to be healthy, they sell V-8 for $3.50.
I cannot say enough about the placement of this stadium, right on the river. Having the Ben Franklin Bridge passing right by the stadium is just an awesome sight, and really adds a ton of something special to Campbell's Field. Having the Philadelphia skyline so visible from the stadium also provides a great backdrop, easily one of the best in all of sports. I can't say enough - just take a look at the pictures! Unfortunately, the actual in-game atmosphere kind of falls flat compared to the majesty of the backdrop, though I also will say I went to the game with the lowest attendance of the season.
First off, it's Camden. If you're not from the area, Camden isn't exactly the nicest of cities, but there are some redeeming qualities. Campbell's Field forms the end of the Cooper's Ferry development plan, which includes Battleship New Jersey and the Camden Aquarium. Nearby is The Victor, a luxury condo building that also is home to a pub/restaurant on the ground floor. If you're looking for a sit-down restaurant to eat at pre- or post-game, definitely check out The Victor for sandwiches ranging from $8-$10, and entrees around $15-$17.
This grade is based more off what I heard from people around the ballpark than what I saw at the game I was at. The Riversharks draw upwards of four or five thousand fans on weekends, in a stadium that seats 6,400. A typical weekday game draws around 1,500-2,000 fans, though that fluctuates depending on whether or not the Phillies are in town. The Riversharks, having been around for more than a decade, do have some fans that are true Camden fans, not just Phillies fans looking for some cheap baseball. If you want to be surrounded by baseball fans, come on a weekend.
Parking is $5, which is definitely steep for minor league baseball. However, consider the fact that you're parking your car in Camden, and it's better off in a lot with an attendant. The lots are well-marked and right across from the stadium, so what you lose in money you make up for in convenience. The bathrooms in the stadium are large, clean, and well-lit, and the entire concourse is wide and open, so I can't imagine it getting crowded very easily.
No matter which seats you go from - anything from the $8 cheap seats to the $29 Upper Club that comes complete with a buffet dinner - you're getting a great deal. There's no such thing as a bad seat at Campbell's Field, and with the level of talent in the Atlantic League, it's always a great game. The Atlantic League prides itself on providing baseball of somewhere between AA-AAA baseball, but this is really a major league experience. There were people sitting down just three rows behind home plate who got two tickets for $15 on Groupon - that's how easy it is to get amazing seats at a high-quality baseball stadium.
Where to begin? The food could count as five extra points enough, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's the United Way Fit + Fun Center out in right field, complete with inflatable games and a rock tower. There's also a carousel down the third-base concourse for just $1, for those people looking for a slightly calmer experience. The suites are another major feature of the park - in addition to 17 25-person suites, there's also the Skyline Suite, which holds 60 people and has its own private deck, as well as two other 50-person suites.
In addition to all of that, the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame is located right next to the entrance, complete with Major League apparel worn by players like Mike Trout, who came out of South Jersey. That's still not all - the Riversharks feature a Peanut-Free Suite, available for a free upgrade to any fan with an allergy. Even if you buy a $10 ticket, you can upgrade for no cost to sit in the allergen-safe suite. That's helped out by Finley's Sales Tank, an in-stadium sales room where fans can purchase future tickets or upgrades.
As a final little bonus, one player on the opposing team is picked at random to Strikeout for Pizza - if he strikes out once, fans win a free slice; twice gets two slices, and three strikeouts wins everybody a free pizza. Campbell's Field was built to satisfy the true baseball fan in everybody.
If you live in Philadelphia, or anywhere near Philadelphia, I highly recommend taking in at least one game at Campbell's Field. From the moment you enter the stadium and see the backdrop, you will understand why this is indeed a special place to view a ballgame. To get to a 7pm game from the city, it takes almost no time to get over the bridge, park and be inside the stadium, enjoying baseball the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
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