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When Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004, the long awaited transformation of Philadelphia sports venues was complete. For the first time since 1971, Philly had a baseball-only facility again. Philly was among the last of the cities to get a new ballpark, but Citizens Bank Park was well worth the wait.
Best of all, the Phillies managed to become a pretty good team, winning five straight division titles and a World Series championship in 2008. There’s nothing like a winning team to bring unparalleled excitement to a ballpark in a sports-crazed town like Philadelphia.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Citizens Bank Park has a fantastic range of food options, but you have to be selective.
Longtime Philly institutions Tony Luke's and Campo's sandwiches are both good. Tony Luke's is known almost as much for the roast pork and provolone as they are for their classic cheesesteaks with Whiz. Campo's serves a spicy cheesesteak sandwich called a "Heater"-with salsa and jalapeno cheddar cheese. Again, they're good, but for the cost, you might be disappointed in the amount of meat in your sandwich.
Near the left field gate is an underrated sandwich called the Schmitter; it is a variation of a cheesesteak from a tavern called McNally's. The Schmitter (which is not named after Mike Schmidt) contains steak, salami, tomatoes, cheese, onions and Schmitter sauce on a Kaiser roll, and it's a great sandwich, better than the two classics in this writer's humble opinion.
You also have the option of Bull's BBQ in the right field corner, where former Phillies slugger Greg Luzinski greets fans who buy his pit beef. It may be a ripoff of Boog's in Baltimore, but the pulled pork, turkey sandwiches, kielbasa dogs and most everything else at Bull's is terrific.
And of course you can get a large cup of Chickie's and Pete's crab fries; crinkle cut fries with Old Bay seasoning and a cup of cheese sauce to dip them in. The sauce is like a mixture of American cheese and ranch dressing. You won't be disappointed in the fries, and don't worry about the long lines. They move fast. But you may want to get them at the actual Chickie's and Pete's...more on that in a moment.
Around the rest of the ballpark there's plenty to choose from. The Hatfield dogs and sausages are all very good, and you can smell them throughout the concourses. The boardwalk fries are okay, and the Cobblestone grill also has cheesesteaks that according to them are every bit as good as Tony Luke's and don't have a long line. Recently a deluxe nachos stand has been added with extras like barbecued pork nachos, but it's still melted cheese glop, not shredded cheese. Seasons Pizza is the official pizza of Citizens Bank Park, and is very mediocre.
There are two restaurants as part of the ballpark: Harry The K's, underneath the stands in left field, is known for terrific chili and other appetizers. You can pose outside of Harry's next to the statue of Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas, whose voice is sorely missed in this town. There's also McFadden's Pub, where the cheesesteak nachos are fairly popular and the barmaids are known for being easy on the eyes.
Budweiser is the beer of choice at Citizens Bank Park, but around the concourses are Beers of the World stands and stands dedicated to Heineken and others. The popular local brew is Victory Hop Devil; it can be found at many of the beer stands. Expect to pay close to $8-$9 for a beer. If you want a wider selection of brews, you can find them at McFadden's.
Finally, for healthy options you can get wraps at Planet Hoagie or Philly Phresh, veggie black bean burgers at the Alley Grill, or a panini at the aptly named Paninis stand. The Phillies have added a lot of gluten-free options of late, and it's easy for celiacs to get a gluten-free dog or slice of pizza now.
So there are many great food options at Citizens Bank Park, but I had to knock off one star for two reasons: The Tony Luke's and Campo's sandwiches (the supposed go-to foods at the ballpark) are light on the beef for the hefty price, and Seasons Pizza is weak pizza in a locale that doesn't tolerate less than stellar pizza.
Citizens Bank Park is a beautiful ballpark with a brick façade and blue seats, with a good, if not great, view of downtown Philadelphia. Perhaps it's boosted by the unappealing donut that was Veterans Stadium, but there are few bad seats, the ushers are pleasant, and Phillies fans rarely fail to peg the excitement meter. Whether the Phillies are good, or not so good, Citizens Bank Park is almost always full and it's a great place to see a ballgame.
The Phillies expressed regret that they weren't able to build a ballpark in the heart of the city, which is a shame, although it did make the excellent Ashburn Alley in center field possible.
The Bank is part of the Philadelphia Sports Complex, which includes Lincoln Financial Field (Eagles) and the Wells Fargo Center (Flyers and 76ers). So everywhere you look are buildings paying tribute to the financial institutions. What it also means is that the area is basically a parking lot, and there isn't the wide selection of great and inexpensive pre-game hangouts one might find at PNC Park or Wrigley Field.
There are basically three options for pre- and post-game dinner or partying: Xfinity Live, a new and overpriced small sports mall with movie theater-sized TV screens and several taverns with a Philadelphia sports theme (like the Broad Street Bullies Pub); McFadden's, the noisy pub attached to the ballpark that draws a younger crowd; and Chickie's and Pete's on Packer Avenue, an excellent sports bar that runs a shuttle to the ballpark.
Of these three, Chickie's and Pete's is your best bet. Their "Taxi Crab" will take you to the park and back, and you'll usually see it going by. Parking there is now just as much as at the ballpark (which may have contributed to the decreasing popularity of the Taxi Crab of late), but you can get a great meal at Chickie's and Pete's-burgers, crabs, or pizza are all good. I usually get crab fries here instead of the ballpark...they're cheaper, and you get two cups of cheese sauce without having to shell out $2 extra for each cup. The Taxi Crab is fun, but honestly, for as long as it takes to come around, you can also walk to the ballpark. It isn't far.
Tailgating isn't allowed in the Phillies lots, but there is a growing scene of pre-game partying in the lots for Lincoln Financial Field and at the Jetro Warehouse. It isn't Milwaukee, but there is some grilling going on and it's getting better. Thankfully, there are plenty of port-a-potties everywhere to reset the clock before getting in line at the gate.
Philadelphia fans are tough, no question about it, but they aren't the monsters that they have had a reputation for ever since the Santa Claus incident 40 years ago. Yes, you'll probably get some grief if you're wearing the opposing team's gear. And occasionally there is the story of a "fan" vomiting on an 11-year old or getting tasered on the field, which, of course, dredges up the Santa Claus story for the millionth time.
I have been to about a hundred Phillies games. I have seen a fight or two, and I won't deny that someone wearing Cowboys or (New York) Giants gear is going to hear about it. (They're far more sensitive about the Eagles than the Phillies). But if you've never been there, don't worry about it being a zoo where the animals have escaped. It's not.
Phillies fans are loud and raucous and intimidating...and isn't that how it's supposed to be? Why shouldn't fans be part of the home field advantage? No hardcore baseball fan wants to be sitting next to someone who is cutting deals on his cell phone the whole game. With a winning team on the field, Phillies fans are going to get behind them. A player should want that in his corner. Few cities are as loyal to their sports teams. You wouldn't see this in Philadelphia.
Yes, there are some idiots. Every city has them. But until you've gone to a NASCAR race in the deep south wearing Jeff Gordon gear, you really don't know how bad fans of the wrong team can get treated.
They will boo their own. But if you play hard, Philly fans will fight to the death for you. That's all they want. Is that too much to ask of a millionaire athlete?
Citizens Bank Park is very easy to get to from either I-95 or I-76; the exits are clearly marked "Sports Complex" and it's pretty hard to miss the three big venues. It's also equally easy to arrive at the ballpark via the SEPTA Broad Street Line, which travels from the heart of the city to the AT&T Station (formerly Pattison Station) about a block and a half from the park.
There is more than ample parking, but traffic can get a bit rough getting in and out, hence the 4 star rating. You're best off arriving as early as you can, and starting about an hour and a half before game time you might consider an alternate exit to the stadium exits. I like to use Penrose Avenue from either interstate and approach the ballpark from the west on Pattison Avenue.
If there is another event going on, like a concert or hockey game at the Wells Fargo Center, you should definitely arrive early or use the subway to get in. SEPTA isn't among the best of big city public transit systems, but they're usually pretty efficient. They run "Sports Express" trains before and after games that skip all of the stops between Walnut-Locust and AT&T, so coming from the PATCO line in New Jersey (as I do), you have an easy, quick ride. There are enough Philly fans going to and from the game that you should feel safe.
No problems with answering nature's call at the Bank; there are plenty of restrooms including family restrooms, and most all of them are handicapped accessible.
When the Phillies are good as they have been in recent years, they sell a lot of tickets, and you'll likely pay more than at most ballparks. But Philly fans, who were deprived of a major sports championship for 26 years, will easily consider it worth the price. When the Phillies don't meet expectations, as in 2012, the prices of tickets on StubHub become dirt cheap, and a game at this ballpark is more than worth the discounted price.
The food isn't cheap-ballpark food never is. But as described, there are plenty of great choices, so at least in that regard you won't likely feel ripped off.
Citizens Bank Park gets four extra points:
The Phillie Phanatic - there is no better mascot in sports. The big green furry creature isn't just a boring rah-rah run around the ballpark mascot. He sticks his "tongue" out at umpires, rides around the field recklessly on an ATV, thrusts his hips at opposing ballplayers, and dances on the Phillies dugout between innings. Kids love him, adults love him, and Tommy Lasorda hates him. (Sorry for the less than stellar video, but it's still hysterical.) The Phanatic rocks. Don't miss him.
Ashburn Alley - named for Phillies center fielder and broadcasting great Richie Ashburn, Ashburn Alley is something like Eutaw Street at Camden Yards. This is where all of the best food choices are located: Chickie's and Pete's, Bull's BBQ, Tony Luke's, Campo's and Planet Hoagie, and there is a fantastic dedication to Philadelphia baseball history that includes the Athletics and Negro League teams. It gets very crowded so see it early.
Seating - There are some high seats in the ballpark that aren't for the acrophobic. But for the most part the architects did a fine job of bringing even the worst seats in the ballpark close to the action. I won't say "there's not a bad seat in the place", since I have no way of knowing that, but you don't have to worry too much about not having a great view.
It's Not The Vet - I have some great memories at Veterans Stadium, but I wasn't too unhappy to see it go. Baseball isn't meant to be played on a carpet.
You will never regret a visit to Citizens Bank Park. It may not be Wrigley Field or Camden Yards as far as the total baseball experience, but it's still pretty great. Put it on your list of ballparks to go and visit.
**Kurt Smith is the author of Ballpark E-Guides, complete PDF-format guides to anything and everything you need to know when visiting a ballpark. If you'd like an inexpensive and comprehensive guide to Citizens Bank Park, click here!
Citizens Bank Park is the home of the 2008 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. Built near the former spot of the not-at-all-missed Veterans Stadium, it is part of the massive Philadelphia Sports Complex, which includes Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL's Eagles, and Wells Fargo Arena Center, home of the NHL's Flyers, Arena Football's Soul and the NBA's 76ers.
The last of the three to be built, "The Bank" is a vast improvement over the Vet.
Citizens Bank Park is definitely on my top 5 list. It has great food, great fans, and great sight lines throughout the stadium. As someone coming in from out of town, I like the Holiday Inn at the edge of the parking lot. It's fairly affordable and put s you right next to the stadium, yet within easy reach of other Philly attractions. If you hit the time of year just right, you may be able to catch a game of all four major sporting teams, without having to leave the parking lot, in a single weekend in October. Of course the Phillies would have to make the playoffs for that to happen. That's hard to beat.
I just recently visited Citizens Bank Park and I was pleasantly suprised. One the whole Philly sports complex is absolutely great and the fans and view at Citizens Bank Park is great. Definitely am looking forward to a return visit to the park.
As a Phillies fan who was raised on Veterans Stadium, Citizens Bank Park is still a breath of fresh air every time I go inside. The food is amazing and plentiful, the energy in the stadium is second to none, and the sightlines are spectacular from all over the stadium. The new scoreboard is enormous, though the Phillies have tried to cram too many numbers onto an already-imposing feature, making it difficult for the average baseball fan to take in all at once. The Phanatic is its own piece of baseball legend, adding even more of an aura to the experience that a Phillies baseball game has become. If you want to see major-league baseball done both modern and right, come to Citizens Bank Park. But, don't plan on hanging out afterwards--it's the stadiums, and nothing else.
This ballpark is part of the best sports complex in the country if not the world. Thankfully they decided to build it across from where the old "Vet" was. That way it's very to access off the Walt Whitman Bridge and/or I-95.
All the Philadelphia sports teams play there. I've never been to Chickie's & Pete's but I know they have a shuttle bus that takes you to the ballpark. I prefer to go to the Oregon Diner for my meals when time allows which is nearby and you can walk there if you want to.
Since the Phillies have been a dominant team the last 3 or 4 years the "Bank" has been jam packed practically every game. People always come decked out in a sea of red to support their Fightin' Phils on to victory. As their late great broadcaster, Harry Kalas sang they have "High Hopes."
In addition, the Phillies have the best mascot in the Phillie Phanatic. He entertains fans of all ages.
Unlike many of the new ballparks built in the last ten years or so, this one is clearly the best of them.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards is the original of the retro style ballparks so like Wrigley Field it will always be head of the class.
Unfortunately the Orioles have been so bad for so long that park has lost alot of its luster. That's a shame.
I don't see the Phillies being bad for many years to come so with that being said the "Bank" will continue to rock and roll to the tune of 45,000 plus every game through late October year in and year out.
If you haven't seen a game there, I strongly suggest you find a way to do so. If you need any help, visit my blog at www.royaltytours.blogspot.com for all the details about me.
For the record, I've seen 112 games there and I live in New York City and I work a full time job which restricts me from going there more often.
I went for my first (and so far, only) game against division "rivals" Washington Nationals on May 30, 2009, the Saturday after Memorial Day. From the ambiance to the food, almost everything is perfect about Citizens Bank Park.
Even against a team that (at the time) never competed for the NL East title, the stadium was packed and were both knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Even as someone wearing a big red "TB" (Tampa Bay) hat, everyone I saw was very cordial and nice â?? the antithesis of what Philadelphia fans are known for â?? with one even telling me that he saw Boston, Yankees, and Toronto hats floating around that night, with only Baltimore needed to complete the "AL East takeover of the Bank", as he jokingly put it.
The only flaws are the non-existent neighborhood (Chickie's and Pete's is the only saving grace from getting a zero rating), and â?? surprisingly for a place that has a mega-sized parking lot â?? mediocre access. The parking was expensive, and waiting for queues to get in and out along Broad Street are usually painfully-long. As I was visiting my family in New Jersey, if you can, park along the PATCO commuter rail line on the Jersey side of the Delaware River and take the train to connect to the SEPTA Broad Street Subway under City Hall. It's both cheaper and allows you to drink at the park, and be sober by the time you get to your car.
All-in-all, it's a great time and a must-visit for any baseball enthusiast. I just wish they would have put the park at the originally-planned site of Broad Street and Spring Garden Street in Center City; while it would have probably killed access even more, it would have made the Atmosphere and Neighborhood grow by leaps and bounds. Guess that's what the gold-standard of Camden Yards will do to you.
I have been going to this stadium since it opened back in 04 (I believe) and I can tell you the fans did not start packing this place until 08. And once they did, the best and brightest sure showed up. Their fans are animals.
Food is okay, beers on tap from Victory which is fantastic.
Neighborhood is way down in south philly which is dumpy and has nothing around the area for after the game, you pretty much have to go north 15-20 blocks to find a decent bar.
Getting there is a breeze, by train or by car.
Atmosphere is okay if you like mental cases who don't realize that baseball is 162 games and it is meant to be watched by civilized people. The view is nice in that you can stand and watch from almost anywhere.
Ticket prices are reasonable.
Overall, if you are from out of town make sure you go when your team is NOT playing.
I've been to many Phillies games in my life, but this was my first experience at Citizens Bank Park. I have to say that the ballpark is very impressive to look at, and it was awesome considering I was about 10 rows behind the visitors' dugout (Atlanta Braves).
The one thing that I will remember most about this experience was the Phillies fans mocking the Braves fans with their tomahawk chant as the Phillies were completely blowing out the Braves in the 8th inning.
1526 Packer Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19145
900 Packer Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19148
1 Citizens Bank Way
Philadelphia, PA 19148
3101 S 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19148