Founded in 2007, the York Revolution are still newcomers to the professional baseball scene, yet they're already establishing quite a niche in this central Pennsylvania town. The anchor of the northern end of York, Sovereign Bank Stadium has been home to the Revolution since halfway through their debut season. Part of the independent Atlantic League, SBS is home to AAA-level baseball in a ballpark built to match, and even exceed, its affiliated counterparts.
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First off, the concession stands have Sam Adams and Blue Moon on tap - an instant sign that this isn't your normal ballpark fare. The food ranges from normal and cheap (a Hatfield dog is $1.75) to a slightly more expensive taste. I tried a $6.50 BBQ Sandwich, which was a little more than I was willing to spend at a minor league park, but I was definitely satisfied with the result. The food was cooked to order and tasted like something you would order at a normal BBQ place, which was a pleasant surprise. Other options ranged from Caesar salads to Auntie Anne's, Pizza Hut, Turkey Hill, and a variety of the usual ballpark fare.
Obviously there's not too much baseball history in York, though the plaza outside the stadium is known as Brooks Robinson Plaza due to his having played in York many years before the Revolution existed. Still, the Revolution won their first league title last season, and that win helped legitimize the team in the York community. The atmosphere is helped along immensely by a replica cannon out in centerfield, which goes off at the beginning of games as well as after home runs and a home team victory.
Driving down to the stadium from the north leads one past a number of factories, which upon approach makes it look as if the park is located in the middle of nowhere. However, the ballpark is on the northern-most edge of a fairly nice area, with numerous restaurants within a block or two of the entrance. Maewyn's Irish Pub is the recommendation - a new, spacious, authentic Irish restaurant that specializes in Shepherd's Pie and fish & chips. The Pub actually caters the picnic area for the Revolution, but makes for a great place to grab a bite to eat either before or after the game.
The game I attended was a Thursday night game at 6:30pm, but there still wasn't exactly a huge turnout. Out of 4312 seats in the park, I would estimate there were about 1200-1500 fans. However, the fans that were there were knowledgeable and supportive. While many minor-league teams tend to draw family-oriented crowds whose attention to the game wavers, the York fans really seemed to be involved in their team. I was told that interest in the team has been growing steadily over the last few years, so it seems like good news all around from the York fanbase.
The parking was plentiful and free, and just a 2-minute walk from the stadium. Beware of lots in the surrounding area that are permit-only, it took me a few minutes of driving around to find the main parking lot. I was told that for sellouts they sometimes have to park people on the grass, but that would only be another minute's walk further from the main part of the parking lots. Also, when looking for a bathroom in the stadium, there is a smaller restroom directly behind home plate, but that is not the main restroom--there are much larger facilities along the 1st and 3rd-base concourses. The ones behind home plate are "convenience" restrooms, including a family restroom.
Tickets run $11 for a field box (though if you go on a week day, buy a $7 lawn seat and just find somewhere to sit), but that's actually a really good deal for what you get with this experience. It's a great place to watch a game: good food with short lines, friendly staff all over the place to help you out, even high-quality beer to drink while you see baseball that is on the upper crust of minor league baseball. Most of these players are former AAA or MLB players who are looking to get back into affiliated baseball, so the level of play is intense and professional. Paying $14, or even $22 for a pair of tickets here seems like a steal for the experience you get.
We can start out with the aforementioned cannon, which is a great addition out in center field; you can even go chat with the guy who fires it, dressed in revolutionary war garb! Out in center field is a playground for families complete with a merry-go-round and a giant inflatable slide, also worth some bonus points. Of note is the Arch Nemesis, the Revolution's nickname for the massive left field wall - the largest in professional baseball, a full six inches taller than the Green Monster.
This is a stadium built to be taken seriously, and it really pulls it off. I was skeptical at first of how authentic an experience I would have in an independent league, but came away immensely impressed. Definitely a stadium worth visiting if you ever find yourself in the lower-middle of PA, no matter where your rooting interests lie. The combination of modern commodities with a fanbase who actually appreciates good baseball makes for a fun time in York, indeed.
The Vault is a great little minor league park. Tough to park near, but overall a great place to catch a game.
Every time I come here (4 games so far), it seems that I have to park a mile away. The neighborhood is depressed but doesn't strike me as unsafe (like Binghamton or Lancaster). Nothing is very special about this but nothing is terrible either. The price is right and you can expect to be surrounded by families with kids since the place is so affordable. That's a good thing.
Sovereign Bank Stadium has so many cool little features to it that it puts most affiliated minor league parks to shame. The tallest wall in baseball, a hand operated scoreboard at the base of it and a really cool kids area in outfield are just some of the reasons this stadium rocks!
White Rose Bar and Grill and First Capitol are two bars within walking distance that are really fun.
I attended my first York Revolution game on 9/16/2012. It was a Sunday, and also Fan Appreciation Day.
Food and Beverage: Great selection. Fair prices. I ate a pretzel the size of a catcher's mitt.
Pros: Overall, the atmosphere was great. The stadium is very nice, the players are super friendly and attentive to the fans, the staff was friendly and helpful, etc. This stadium is a really great place to watch baseball. There's also a manual scoreboard out in left center, which added to the charm.
I went on Fan Appreciation Day, which upped the Atmosphere as well. The coach, Andy Etchebarren, was retiring, so they honored him...and Brooks Robinson gave a speech. Super cool surprise!
Announcer/Sound: I don't understand why some ballparks think they need to put a sound effect or song after EVERY pitch. Let it breathe a little here and there...BOING! CRASH! Come on...Not the end of the world though.
Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!: If you're not christian and are easily offended or made to feel excluded, you may want to pick another day to come to the ballpark. All the songs on the loudspeaker before the game were christian rock songs, followed by one terrible (in my opinion) church ensemble live performance after another between innings.
I found this to be very distracting (luckily between innings) and a little overkill. To be fair, ANY performance between every inning would have been distracting. I came to watch a ball game. Instead of rolling my eyes, I just used the opportunity to eat that giant pretzel I mentioned above.
I got there early. Parking was $4 and close, although it was not closely monitored. I saw some people slipping in another entrance for free. The neighborhood seemed fine.
Fans: Absolutely awesome! They've created a real family there in York. They've got their inside cheers (Hit the wall!), they've got their mascot and kid version of the mascot, the fans know the players, the players know the fans. It was wonderful to watch and be a part of.
Return on Investment: Ticket prices were reasonable, as was parking fees.
Extras: Perhaps unfair because I went on fan appreciation day. There were tons of free give-aways at various times during the game (frisbees, tee-shirts, ticket taped to bottom of seat, etc). I received a free program upon entrance. The seats were nice and wide, and if you got row D or below, you got nice padded seats. The extras were great.
Conclusion: I would DEFINITELY go see the York Revolution again.
Sovereign Bank Stadium was built two years after Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster, but it is almost an exact copy. Other than the high wall in LF, there is little distinguish it. That said, this is a nice enough ballpark to catch a game in. Seats are close to the field, concessions are good (especially the pretzels), and the atmosphere is lively. My only complaints are that the atmosphere is a bit loud at times and also that the concession stands have very long lines when there is a big crowd on hand. For my full review, check out my website : www.ballparkreviews.com
But I'm a little biased... :) My hometown team.
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