Metro Bank Park is located on an island in the middle of the Susquehanna River. City Island Park, a mile-long island, is also home to numerous attractions such as a narrow gauge railroad, carousel, paddlewheel riverboat, horse-drawn carriage rides, batting cages and miniature golf. Skyline Sports Complex, home of the Harrisburg City Islanders soccer team is also nearby.
Baseball has been played here since the 1800s. In 1903, the island was even home to a professional baseball team called the Harrisburg Athletics. Later a different team. also called the Senators, played on the island until too many flooded fields pushed them out. For many years after, no sports team called the location home.
In 1987 the Nashua Pirates moved to Harrisburg and Riverside Stadium was built on the island to accommodate them. Riverside was not considered one of the greatest stadiums around. It was built with a lots of aluminum and not much else. It really felt temporary, at best. It lasted until 2009-2010 when major renovations occurred in phases, and gave the fans this current ballpark.
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".
The concourse has many basic stands with the usual baseball names like "Dugout Dogs," "Batters Box," "Foul Ball Grill," and "Sen-a-Taters." All of the stands offer decent food options that are normally seen at baseball games. Hot dogs are pretty cheap at $2.50 with a jumbo for $3.50. Popcorn at $2.25, $4 for cotton candy and Nachos for $4 are also great values.
Beer is $5 and $6.75 around the park, with sodas for $2 to $4.75 depending on the size. You should be able to find some good craft beer choices at a slightly higher price. The whole pizza for $20 is the only thing that seemed a bit overpriced.
Arooga's Wing, in the center field boardwalk sells six original or boneless wings for $6, with your choice of three sauces. This local establishment is tasty and does offer a food option that is not always seen at ballparks.
A food stand near the entranceway, called the Spot, has some good daily specials such as a Reuben Dog or the "Hot Mess" dog covered in ground beef BBQ. Just bring cash as this stand does not accept credit cards.
Some of the concession stands can get pretty crowded, so a good choice to beat the crowds is to go to the Lime-A-Rita Bar located in the right field boardwalk, literally under the scoreboard. The $5.75 Rita Burger is freshly made and is good for the size. Other options at this stand include the Chorizo Sausage sandwich or half pound Senor Dog, both of which are $5.
Major and Minor League Baseball has a recommendation, but not a rule, that the pitcher mound should face west. This is to keep the batters from facing the setting sun. Metro Bank Park violates this, as the field instead faces southwest. The field is essentially in the same placement as back in the late 19th to early 20th century and probably was placed that way due to the unique topography of the island. Changing that during renovations was just not feasible, as the renovations focused on the seating bowl, not the field. Whatever the reason, you may find some unique sun angles and shadows here that you will not experience in other parks.
The stadium also has a unique entranceway in left field that is often very crowded before the game. Look for a smaller, lesser known entrance over by the 1st base side if you want to escape from the crowds.
The park has numerous levels of which a fan can navigate around the park. You will feel like you are constantly walking on boardwalks and going up and down between sections of the park. This whole outfield boardwalk section has some very unique seating options, including a single row of barstool seats in places. There are also many picnic and group seating options, as well as the dugout suites at field level.
Using the main grandstand concession stands will mean that you are not able to see the game while in line. This is counter to the current trend where the entire concourse allows a field view. It is assumed that renovations did not allow for such drastic changes.
A large children's activities area is located on ground level, but essentially below the entranceway plaza. Kids seem to enjoy this area, although it really separates them from the game.
All of the family seating options and activities mean that many people in attendance are not there just for the game. This does not mean that serious fans cannot enjoy the game here though. Behind the plate and also in sections all around the complex you will find serious fans who hang on every pitch.
The most unique aspect of a Senators game is the mayflies which swarm on many of a summer night. It happens quickly and a newcomer to this kind of experience could feel quite uncomfortable. The team takes advantage of this insect activity and plays up the experience as part of the overall atmosphere.
The location on an island would seem to be a bad location for a sports stadium. But City Island is lucky to have all of the many diversions. There is even a small snack bar located on the island.
The pedestrian bridge to downtown Harrisburg is called the Walnut Street Bridge and allows one to quickly get over to an area where there are numerous restaurants and bar choices. 2nd Street is the best place to go. Anthony's Micro Pub & Pizza at 225 N 2nd Street is a small bar with a large craft beer selection. Look out for some great daily specials. On Fridays and Saturdays the happy hour special includes free pizza and half off beers. Federal Taphouse and Molly Brannigans are also recommended in this area.
There are also many historical sites littered around the capital area. The Pennsylvania State Capitol building, the Pennsylvania State Museum, the National Civil War Museum, and the Whitaker Center, a kid-friendly science museum are just a few of the options.
The fans are generally good baseball fans, notwithstanding the ones who are distracted by all of the various activities. Hardcore baseball fans are found all over the park. Some of the most active fans are in the right field seats.
The Senators are also a very competitive organization in recent years. So the level and quality of baseball is easy to enjoy.
Harrisburg is surrounded by major highways such as I-81, I-83 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. But the highways won't help with traffic to the stadium. The island is accessed by a single bridge and that means traffic will be heavy at times.
One option is to sneak on to the bridge from the west, by way of the town of Camp Hill, where traffic may be lighter. You could also park in downtown Harrisburg and walk over, but be prepared to pay parking prices that are far too high for such a small city.
If you park on the island, be prepared for parking to be either free or $5 depending on the day and time.
Prices are all over the map, ranging from $9 to over $30 for Club Boxes. The best values are the left field Ollie's seats ($9) and $13 bar stool seats. There is, of course, many ways to get in by way of groups and picnicking packages. Be on the lookout for Groupon specials as well.
There are also some seating options available that can include all you can eat options around the park and with access to the Patriot News Club behind home plate.
With the potential for cheap or free parking, decent food options and other amenities, the value for fans is very good.
The team store located beyond the left field wall is one of the largest we have seen at this level of baseball. Prices are good and they usually have some clearance options to make things cheaper.
Check out the very high flood level marking on the pedestrian bridge towards downtown. It is amazing to think that in the aftermath of Hurricane Agnes the water level of the Susquehanna River was way above the bridge. The bridge used to also span west from the island but collapsed in 1996 due to flooding and was never rebuilt.
There is no better way to get ready to watch a baseball game than to try out one of the batting cages operated between the entrance of the park and the Walnut Street Bridge. Prices are $1.25 for a single time in the cage with 12 pitches. $20 gets you 480 total pitches.
Antiquated Riverside Stadium is an afterthought here in Harrisburg. Now it is Metro Bank Park, and it offers a great value baseball experience in one of the most unique settings around. A baseball fan, or even a fan of a good entertainment experience should make a trip to see the stadium and surroundings.
Metro Bank Park is very beautiful and has an extremely unique setting. It is located on the 62 acre City Island in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Yes, on an island! Metro Bank Park is the home of the Harrisburg Senators, the AA affiliate of the Washington Nationals. They play in the Eastern League. Some of their alumni include Vladimir Guerrero, Drew Storen and Stephen Strasburg.
The park itself was built in 1987, but recently underwent a series of renovations making it appear brand new. In its current configuration, the park holds 6,178 fans. I have been told that since the park is right on the water that bugs can be an issue in the later summer months, but I did not have the problem during my early season visit. The park is also prone to flooding during extraordinarily rainy years, but it isn't a real big concern.
Nice park settled on City Island in the middle of the river. Watch out for the May Fly bugs on summer evenings.... YOU NEED A HAT... not much shade either for day games.
This is a very interesting location for a ballpark. It's located on an island in the middle of the Susquehanna River. That's cool. It also means that there are lots of bugs, especially May Flies. That's not so cool. I couldn't enjoy my beer since there were so many bugs swimming around in it. I've seen two games here and both times the crowds were very small. I do know that, when a big prospect (Strasburg, Harper) is called up, the place gets packed. There also seems to be good stuff for the kids to do on the island and you can take a sternwheel ride on the river too. Parking is pretty close and the views of the river (from outside of the stadium) are very nice in the evenings.
I attended my first Harrisburg Senators game on 9/2/12 vs. the Bowie Baysox. I've been to quite a few AAA games, and a couple High A games, so I was interested to see what AA would be like. I've also lived in the Harrisburg area for about 5 years now, and had never been to a game.
Food & Beverage: Seemed to be pretty standard fair. I'm a vegetarian, so I usually only get peanuts and a diet Pepsi anyway. I can't really comment on this one.
Atmosphere / Fans: The park is really nice and inviting. A great place to watch baseball. There didn't seem to be a bad seat in the house. The fans were great. Since we were geographically close to the opposing team, there were a good mix of Harrisburg fans and Bowie fans. Everyone got along and had a great time.
Neighborhood / Access: The neighborhood is sort of non-existent because the park is on an island. There are garages on the island ($3), but if you want to park there, make sure you get there at least an hour before the game. I tried to go the night before, and gave up because the line to the garage was so long.
There is street/lot parking on the Lemoyne side of the pedestrian bridge for free if you don't mind the scenic walk.
Return on Investment: Tickets are cheaper than many lower echelons of baseball in the region. Parking and food are reasonably priced. I would say it's a high return on investment.
Extras: The park has batting cages and an arcade (Star Trek: The Next Generation Pinball!) which is an added bonus.
Conclusion: A great place to watch a game. I would highly recommend.
Metro Bank Park's location is a historic one for baseball in Harrisburg. The site on City Island has been the home for Harrisburg's baseball teams since 1907. The current ballpark was built as Riverside Stadium in 1987, and it was renamed to Commerce Bank Park in 2005 and finally to Metro Bank Park in 2010 (after the completion of its last big renovation). The facility now seats 6,187 and houses the Harrisburg Senators, the AA Eastern-League affiliate of the Washington Nationals.
The many other family-friendly activities on City Island Park make it an easy choice for families looking to spend a day outdoors before taking in a game, and its unique location and great fans make it a nice venue to catch a game.
The renovation between 2008-2010 basically turned Harrisburg's ballpark from one of the worst to one of the best. I was amazing to see older pictures of the stadium as this park essentially is brand new. What a great job designers did to re-build and in turn make a park that is unique and unlike many of the cookie-cutter minor league parks find today.
City Island is quite unique and I was able to do the paddleboat 45 minute tour. Highly recommend taking a cruise before the game. Also, walking over the Walnut Street Bridge into downtown and visiting the State Capitol or Restaurant Row is well worth it
Having seen both incarnations of this ballpark, I can honestly say that Harrisburg went from having the worst ballpark in the Eastern League to now having one of the best. I love the boardwalk they put around the outfield - it is definitely unique. Also, the new grandstand is wonderful as well. It provides covering/shade and the seats have a nice steep pitch to them. Wish they would have replaced the bleachers on the first base side (which is the only thing which remains from the old stadium), but this is just a minor flaw. The concessions here are outstanding. I enjoyed one of the best burgers I've ever had at a ballpark at The Spot. Prices are reasonable, the atmosphere is lively, and the ballpark is comfortable. Just a great place to take in a game.
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