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.
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Metro Bank Park has helpful "Food Guide" maps located throughout the facility to help you find what you want. Concessions dot the entire park on all levels, with the main concentration being in the big plaza behind right field.
There are a number of stands there with baseball-themed names ("Dugout Dogs," "Batters Box," "Sen-a-Taters") that serve standard ballpark fare, and the Foul Ball Grill, which grills everything up fresh for you. The other concession stands mainly follow the pattern of average ballpark grub, though being this close to Hershey, the chocolate stand underneath the grandstand shouldn't come as a surprise.
The only real stand-outs from a food standpoint are Arooga's Wing Shack (on the left-center field boardwalk) and Spot (near the main entrance in left). Arooga's serves up a half-dozen original or boneless wings at a buck a wing ($6), with your choice of three excellent sauces of various heat levels. Spot offers their Rendell Burger (a Swiss burger with the works on a pretzel bun, $7), a cheesesteak with chili sauce ($7.25), and a variety of specialty hot dogs (from $3.25-$4.25).
On the suds front, most concession stands serve up large and small draft domestic beers (Bud and Coors) for $6.50/$5, and some offer large premium beers (Pale Moon) for $6.50. A few concessions (City Island Brews, Arooga's) also have Mike's Hard Lemonade, wine, and O'Doul's available. But your best bet for beer is the Troegs Beer Garden in the right-field plaza, where the local brewery's best is served up at the same prices.
The park is oriented so that the main entrance is actually in left field, and it can get quite backed up, especially right at opening (1.5 hours before game time). There is a second general-admission entrance around by the handicapped parking lot near first base (past the carousel and train station) that will get you in much faster.
Home fans can ask for autographs on the first base dugout before and after the game, and fans sitting in the dugout boxes behind first base are often recipients of the last out in the tops of innings.
The park is oriented along several axes. The grandstand is split by a walkway into box seats above and club seats and dugout boxes below. A passageway extends under the grandstand and boardwalk in left field. A picnic area with a small overhanging seating area runs down the third base line, ending in the "Cheap Seats" bleachers in left field (sponsored by a local discount emporium and graced with a giant inflatable version of the owner).
A "boardwalk" (guarded by a lifeguard at the main entrance) runs from third base around the entire field to the right field corner. Out in the left and right field boardwalk are barstool seats right on the railing with their own counter running the length of the seats. Another picnic area sits under the scoreboard in center, and the All-You-Can-Eat seats sit in right. The Giant Picnic Area is in the right field corner, and bleachers and field boxes follow the line back down to the grandstand. Behind the right field bleachers is the Troegs Beer Garden plaza, which houses a stage area and several specialty concessions.
Cover from the elements is provided in the grandstand seating and the luxury boxes on the top of the grandstand. One stand-out feature of the park is field-level "Dugout Suites," located down the third base line next to the visiting dugout. They are as close as you can get to the action without being called in for a relief appearance.
Rascal the river monster (a non-descript, muppet-looking blue mascot) runs the on-field activities with the fan squad. The regular minor league between-inning entertainments are on hand, from funny races to games of dubious skill. Most activities are run on the home dugout down the first base line.
Speaking of atmosphere, a lot of it gets occupied by mayflies in the middle innings of night games. Seemingly out of nowhere, a swarm of mayflies can descend in minutes, carpeting everything. People wearing bright colors are apparently more attractive to the flies, so you may want to dress accordingly. The flies are harmless (though they have caused a forfeit or two), but they can be an issue for those with bug phobias. And be sure to close any open beverages or finish up any sticky foods before the fifth inning to avoid some unpleasant situations.
Metro Bank Park is located on City Island Park, and, as the name might suggest, it is an island park in the middle of the Susquehanna River, right next to downtown Harrisburg. Metro Bank Park isn't the only attraction on the island, which houses several activities for families who want to make a day of it.
An arcade and batting cage complex is right across the street from the main entrance. Right around the corner from the main entrance is an old-time carousel and the "City Island Railroad," a mini-rail line that circles the island. There are horse and buggy rides that leave from the area just beyond the parking lot, and there are steamboat trips around the island available, as well. The Skyline Sports Complex is next door, with a soccer field, track, and volleyball courts. On the other side of the (tiny) island are a mini-golf course and paddleboat and canoe rentals.
And that's just in the park. Within the city itself, there are also sights, including the Pennsylvania State Capitol, the Pennsylvania State Museum, the National Civil War Museum, and the Whitaker Center, a kid-friendly science museum. And just fifteen minutes down the road, of course, is Hersheypark amusement complex.
There is a snack shack on the island, but for meals, you'll likely need to take one of the pedestrian bridges for the short walk to downtown "restaurant row" on North 2nd Street. Restaurant Row has you covered, from the low-end Jimmy John Subs and The Sandwich Man, to ethnic specialty restaurants such as Zia's at Red Door Trattoria, Miyako Sushi, Arepa City Latin Eatery, and the highly touted French Bistro Au Bon Lieu (a block over on North 3rd). Not surprisingly, Restaurant Row also has a ton of bars, including Mullighan's Downtown Pub, Zembie's Sports Tavern, Ceoltas Irish Pub, the Bourbon Street Saloon, and Molly Brannigans.
As you'd imagine for the state capital, there are plenty of hotels on offer within a mile of the stadium, such as the EconoLodge Wormsleysburg, Comfort Inn Harrisburg, Hilton Harrisburg, and the Crown Plaza Harrisburg.
While baseball at this level is mostly marketed to families, the fans in the stands at Metro Bank Park seem to be knowledgeable about the game, and there are more than a few hard-core fanatics in the crowd who are up on the finer points of the game. The crowd was there in both quantity and quality, at least on the night I went in 2013, with a larger-than-sellout crowd on hand for the summer weekend game.
The place stayed packed for the entire game, no doubt helped by the post-game fireworks and ball-ring toss giveaway after the last out. Everyone was loud and involved and had a good time.
All roads lead to the state capital, and all the interstates can get you from the surrounding area to Metro Bank Park. I-83 is the closest, and 81 and 76 both get you in the neighborhood. Parking is $3 in the City Island lot. It is just under two hours driving from Philadelphia and a little over an hour from Baltimore.
For mass transit, routes 4 and 89 of the Capital Area Transit (CAT) buses serve City Island ($.75), the Harrisburg Amtrak station is just across the river in downtown, and most major interstate bus lines serve the city, including Greyhound and Trailways. Harrisburg International Airport caters to those coming from further afield.
Wide walkways make getting around the park particularly easy. The right field entrance to the outfield boardwalk and the entrance plaza in left as the gates open are the only places it can get bogged down. About half of the concessions will let you grab your food and not miss anything on the field, but half (including the outer grandstand, ground-floor concessions, and the right field plaza) will not, so it's a mixed bag. Grab your food from these places before the game starts if you don't want to miss any action.
Tickets are generally reasonable, although some major league pricing rears its head. Club Seats behind home plate are $32, although they include access to the "upscale" all-you-can-eat buffet in the Patriot News Club behind home plate (that runs until an hour and a half after game time), free parking, and VIP entrance to the extra-wide seats behind home plate.
The All-You-Can-Eat Seats in right field run $21 each, but obviously include the titular buffet. The rest of the seating is more in keeping with minor league standards. Dugout Boxes are $14, Field Boxes are $12, Bar Stools (in right and left field on the boardwalk) are $12, Box Seats are $10, and Reserve and Standing Room Only seats are $8 ($7 for seniors). Twelve-ticket voucher books are available for box and field box seats that provide two free tickets for the price of ten ($100/$120). Picnic areas with all-you-can-eat seating are available for groups of 20 or more at $23 per adult and $13 per child.
Food and beverage prices are generally on par with other AA-level teams, meaning they are very reasonable compared to their big-league brothers. Most food items are $6 or under, and a large beer at $6.50 hasn't been found in the bigs since the 80s.
While there is the option to splurge, an average family can have a nice night out at the park without breaking the bank.
The $2 magazine-sized program wasn't quite enough to justify its price (often a free give-away in the minors), with the standard minor league content and a very usable scorecard in the centerfold. The main merchandise store, with its average array of team-branded items, is out in left field near the main entrance, and a satellite kiosk in the lower grandstand has a smaller selection, but offers temporary airbrush tattooing for the kids.
There is a 25-member "All Senators" team memorial in the upper grandstand walkway, and various memorials to recent victories around the park. The lone number 42 (Jackie Robinson) is retired in left field.
The fan relations booth is tucked in back by the main entrance and may be missed if you're not looking for it. You can sign-up there for the on-field festivities. The Kids Zone, filled with inflatable rides, lies on the lower floor along the outside of left field.
Despite not excelling in all areas, Metro Bank Park is a fun place in a fun location that provides an affordable night out for families and baseball fanatics alike, and it is truly a place where you can spend a whole day at the park in the park, and then make an evening of it in nearby downtown Harrisburg.
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.
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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