The Lehigh Valley IronPigs are the class AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. They have been playing in Coca-Cola Park since 2008, when the park was named ballpark of the year by Ballpark Digest. I highly recommend a visit as you will enjoy your time at one of the best minor league parks in the country.
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The team has a couple of real nice unique food items; with the most popular being the Aw shucks corn on the cob, which comes covered in some sort of spice and parmesan cheese ($3.50). Another item was the three little pigs sandwich, which was grilled ham, pulled pork, bacon and BBQ sauce, a real tasty sandwich that I tried. They also had a gyro station, with an extensive selection of toppings and sandwich options, such as a traditional gyro, chicken gyro, veggie gyro, and falafel all for $7.50 each or "the Zeus" which is a double gyro for $14.50.
The food menu is huge and contains a large quantity of pork items. I could go on for a while, but it is best if you just walk around the park and check out the rest of the stands, such as the Philly Pretzel Factory stand or get yourself a giant turkey leg. If you get something there, be sure the try the buttercreme or cinnamon dips.
Soda products were Coca-Cola and cost $3.50 for a 20oz bottle, or you could get Vitamin water for $3.75 and regular bottled water was $3. Fountain soda was only at select stands and cost $2.75, $3.25 and $3.75 depending on size. They also offered a limited beer selection with bottles costing $5 and draft beers ($5.50).
I did save the best part of the food and beverage experience for last however. The park actually uses a smartphone app called "bypass lane" that you can download for free from the iPhone and Android markets. You can browse the different concession stand menus, and place your order and pay for it via credit card all from your seat. Then you receive a text when your food is ready and they have a special window you go to and pick up your food, "bypassing" the long lines.
The app is actually good for various venues around the country and was designed by Mark Cuban's company. It is well worth the $0.99 transaction fee and you can even have it store your credit card info for future visits to make ordering even faster.
The team has won awards for their between innings entertainment, and it showed throughout the game. Every 1/2 inning the team has some sort of fan contest or other entertainment. Thankfully it isn't real intrusive with advertisements, just pure entertainment to keep everyone involved with the game.
They also have a "win-the-zones" game, where zones of the field are "controlled" by the team that most recently got a hit into that area of the field. The rules are a bit complicated so the team constantly announces who controls which zone on the scoreboard. Once you catch the hang of the game, you can follow along pretty easily since the zones are marked on the field much like the St. Louis Cardinals landscape the arch into their outfield grass.
Lehigh Valley is a really fast growing part of Pennsylvania. In fact, it is the 64th most populous metro area in the United States according to data from the most recent census, so you will be able to find plenty to do.
A great place to grab a beer is the Bethlehem Brew Works. I would go with just the appetizer sampler, since it is different than most restaurants because it includes Bavarian pretzels and fried pierogies. Of course, be sure to try one of their many draft beer options, such as the Steelworkers' Oatmeal Stout.
If you want to just grab a bite to eat without alcohol, try Grumpy's Bar-B-Que Roadhouse. They have a huge six page menu with everything from traditional BBQ to a line of bisque soups.
The fans were really into the game, but the game ran long on a weeknight and not many stayed to the finish, my only real complaint. The team does a great job of selling out fairly often and even for the night I was there it was quite full. A real nice showing for a minor league team on a weeknight in my experiences. There appeared to be a good number of season ticket holders with lots of fans wearing the IronPigs apparel.
Parking was $3 which seems to be standard at minor league parks, but Lehigh does offer shuttle rides right to the entrance or the ticket office which was really nice. The parking is all paved with plenty of spots.
The concourse was wide and you could walk the entire way around the park, something you can't do at most minor league parks. There is a lot of seating to eat near the right field seats where you can still see the game action.
Tickets start at $6 for general admission and $9 gets you a nice chair back seat with a good view down either baseline. There is a $1 per ticket transaction fee if you order online, so just call the ticket office if you want to save a little.
With the great access, atmosphere and fan base, the experience is easily worth the price.
There is a reason why Sports Illustrated's Peter King loves to mention IronPigs games and why the park was voted as one of the best by Ballpark Digest. The entire package is there. Kids' zone, great food, involved fans, attentive staff all in a great ballpark. If you are anywhere between New York and Philadelphia, I highly recommend a stop at Coca-Cola Park.
This is a great place to watch a game. There is easy access from I-78, the food is good, lots of parking, good between-inning entertainment, fun crowd, lots of areas to relax. Get seats in the grass (cheap) and relax. This is one of the few stadiums that both of my daughters like. We've been here 4 times in the past three years and will likely visit again this year.
While the entertainment value and over-all atmosphere of Coca-Cola Park is exemplary, the IronPigs are constructing a brand new expansion for 2012.
The Red Robin Tiki Terrace and Oasis will bring the Park's capacity to 10,100. The Tiki Terrace will feature a new group area, tables, new drink rails, an expanded menu and a row of over-hanging seats that are actually over the left-field wall and "in play"!
2012 will be a great year and we shall Bring the Noise!
You really can't be this in terms of minor league ballparks. I walked away very impressed as a neutral fan.
I took in a double-header on April 20, 2013, IronPigs vs. Buffalo Bisons. Despite being a fan of the visiting team, and the temperature being in the 30s/40s, I had a great time!
Some notable details include:
- Ticket prices were cheap ($10 for the entire double header + plus a commemorative pint glass. What a deal!).
- Parking ($3) was abundant.
- The ballpark and surrounding grounds were clean.
- Ballpark staff were extremely friendly.
- Seats were comfortable and wide. I'm a big galoot, and sat next to a big galoot. We did not elbow each other at all. Cupholders? Yes :).
- Mascots were great. Both kind of terrifying (IronPigs) and extremely animated!
- Lots of between inning and general park extras. Watching a giant ham run in the Pork Race was fun. Working sponsors and promotions into the game were creative and fun. Fireworks out of the Coca-Cola bottle were a nice touch.
- Fans were generally into the game, and friendly despite my wearing visiting team gear! :)
- Concessions were moderately priced, but had things I have not seen at other ballparks. Lots of pork products (IronPigs!) like pulled pork sandwiches, pulled pork nachos, etc. Roasted corn on the cob that one eats like a popsicle! Cinnamon roasted nuts, made right in front of you. Yum.
- Team store had a nice selection. Prices were moderate. Not as expensive as a major league park, but more expensive than some AAA parks I've been to.
- Announcer and songs added to the game and were at a perfect volume. Coca-Cola Park does it right.
- Scoreboard could use some features. It would be nice to see what the players did previously in the game. It would also have been nice to see the full lineup listed while the teams were up.
- Pitch radar was definitely broken. 54 MPH? No way!
Overall, I very much enjoyed my experience at this ballpark. So much so, I've already bought tickets to the AAA Championship game in September, knowing that it will be a great time.
Hopefully I won't have to wear mittens next time I go! Great job, Coca-Cola Park!
569 Main St
Bethlehem, PA 18018
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