- Richard Smith
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia Phillies
Photos by Richard Smith and Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey and Christopher Szagola/CSM/Alamy Live News
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29
Citizens Bank Park One Citizens Bank Way Philadelphia, PA 19148
Year Opened: 2004
Broad Street Baseball
The Philadelphia Phillies are the oldest continuous, one-name, one-city franchise in all of professional American sports. This also means that the Phillies have lost more games in history than any other team in Major League Baseball history. That sounds quite damning, but having been a continuous team since 1883 means there will be quite a few losses, as well as some wins, in those years.
The Baker Bowl, Shibe Park and Veterans Stadium were the homes to Phillies baseball prior to the opening of Citizens Bank Park in 2004.
The Baker Bowl had the first cantilevered upper deck in a sports stadium, and was the first ballpark to use steel and concrete for the majority of its construction. The stadium was seen as small and quirky. It even had a hump in the outfield where an underground train tunnel was located.
Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium was the next destination for the Phillies. It had a beautiful designed exterior facade and had some interesting elements. But because of money issues and ownership infighting the stadium deteriorated fast, not too mention was located in a less than desirable neighborhood.
The city and the team made the poor decision of moving along with the Eagles into multipurpose Veterans Stadium in 1971. Much like Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati and Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Veterans was seen as a lifeless hulking complex that offered little for the fans. It got to the point that the stadium was falling apart, not too mention the rats and mice who dominated the lower parts of the facility.
Finally in 2004 the Phillies moved into this new jewel of a stadium located next to where Veterans Stadium existed. They had a long sellout streak here between 2009 and 2012. Citizens Bank Park is a nice major league stadium that offers much for baseball fans.
Food & Beverage 5
There are so many options for food at Citizen Bank Park. At one point PETA even lauded its vegetarian options by designating their roster of black-bean burgers and Tony Luke’s broccoli rabe as good choices. In that same vein look for the gluten free kiosk on the main level concourse.
Campos has traditional cheesesteaks, as well as The Heater (Hot Sauce and Buffalo Cheddar ). Also offering cheesesteaks is Tony Luke’s. You really can’t go wrong with either. Chickie’s and Pete’s sells their famous Crab Fries.
The stadium is also scattered with generic named food stands called names such as Market Express, Washington Square Pizza, Old City Creamery, Brewerytown and South Philadelphia 9th at Market. Phillie Franks, bottomless popcorn, and an ice cream helmet are some of the options at these locations. There are many options around the stadium generally in the $8 to $12 range.
If you want a bit more than the usual options try Harry The K’s sit down restaurant and bar located under the massive scoreboard. They have a large and deep menu.
There is a newly remodeled area along the third base side with a Shake Shack, a beer garden, and a sports pub.
Citizens Bank Park is a great place to watch a baseball game. Unlike old Veterans Stadium, the facility offers a great atmosphere. The large scoreboard in left field gives all the necessary info to keep the atmosphere interesting. The light up Liberty Bell in center adds to the look and feel.
The left center field walking space called Ashburn Alley offers good food and gives a good walking and meet-up space for fans. The throwback merchandise stand in this area sells some nice variations of Phillies merchandise, as well as some old Philadelphia Athletics merchandise.
The center field food area has now been transformed into a very cool kid play place with an interactive field.
The main problem with the entire sports complex is its distance from the actual city of Philadelphia. To really experience the city you would need to take a subway ride into center city.
There are places close to the stadium still. The Xfinity Live entertainment center is across the street, roughly where the old Spectrum was located. It is overpriced and is not really an entertainment center, but a mess of bars thrown together. It can still be a good pre-game meeting spot even with the outrageous prices.
The Famous sports bar Chickie’s and Pete’s is pretty close on Packard Avenue. There are hundreds of screens and video game options inside here. The food is pretty good too. The Crab Fries are famous here. You can park at Chickie’s and Pete’s for some games and they offer a shuttle bus to the games (“The Taxi Crab”). Just make sure you follow parking rules, as they will be quick to tow you if you don’t.
Some of the best cheesesteaks are located at Tony & Nicks Steaks (Formerly the original Tony Luke’s) on Oregon Avenue underneath I-95. Don’t fall for the more touristy Pat’s and Geno’s. Tony and Nick’s offers more options with much better flavor. The place can get crowded before games and still gets it share of tourists. There will be many people that view even this spot as a bit too touristic, so for a more neighborly experience go to Philip’s Steaks at 2234 West Passyunk Avenue. They are located in a safe neighborhood and offer free parking. Philip’s also has a surprisingly good cheeseburger for a cheesesteak joint. Just remember you have to buy the drinks and fries at a different window than your main entree, which is a strange and unique Philly tradition.
The rest of Philadelphia is available to you on a short ride away on the Broad Street subway line.
The Phillies are fairly decent in terms of fan support. Some recent struggles have seen an end to previous sellout streaks and capacity crowds. The stadium still does well on weekend games versus big-time opponents. But weekday games and doubleheaders, expect to see a few empty seats.
You will also see the jerseys of older players represented well. Mike Schmidt and Tug McGraw jerseys will be seen everywhere. The 1980s uniform and colors seem to be popular as a throwback.
The sports complex is located right off of I-95, with massive parking lots in the area. Even with big crowds, there should be no problem with access. Parking prices vary by the event and by the lot. It will not be cheap, but it will be convenient, as there are over 6,000 spaces available throughout eight lots. A pretty good value is a $10 lot on the opposite side of Lincoln Financial Field that an outside vendor runs.
If using public transportation, you will likely find yourself using one of the few corporate-sponsored subway stations that I know of, the NRG Energy Station of the Broad Street Line.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets have become easier to find than during the years around their last World Series run, but even so, you may pay a high cost for good seats. $20 is the starting price generally but they will go up dramatically depending on the seat location. A weeknight game against a lesser opponent is a good way to find something cheaper than that on the aftermarket.
The parking can be costly but frankly, it seems on par with other stadiums around the country.
The Liberty Bell tells you immediately where you are. And watch it light up when the home team hits a home run and/or wins. The Memory Lane signs in center field can be easy to miss, but be sure to stop and read the history of this long standing team.
The Phillie Phanatic is one of the few baseball mascots (him and the Orioles Bird) that seems not to be out of place. He drives around the field on an ATV doing his stunts to the delight of all.
The entire Ashburn Alley area of the park is a joy to walk around, eat, shop and hang out with friends.
Ashburn Alley is also a wonderful way to learn about the history of the Phillies.
Philadelphia fans often get a bad reputation and it can be well deserved at times. The stadium itself can also get lost in the sea of new stadiums across the league, but the fact is that Citizens Bank Park is a modern ballpark that offers all of the best things that fans expect out of their stadium experience. It should not be forgotten about.