New Holland Arena - Harrisburg Heat
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
New Holland Arena 23 North Cameron St Harrisburg, PA 17110
Year Opened: 1939 Capacity: 6,700
Heating things up in Harrisburg
The Freedmont Mortgage Field at Farm Show Arena is on one six different buildings that make up the Pennsylvania Farm Show and Expo Center in Harrisburg. It is also home to the Harrisburg Heat of Major Arena Soccer League.
In 1917 the first state-wide farm show took place attracting 5,000 visitors and as it grew in popularity a new centralized place was needed to house the event. On January 31, 1929, construction for the $1.4 million farm show complex in Harrisburg broke ground and opened in time for the 1931 Farm Show. By the end of the decade, the Large Show Arena would be built in 1939. Today the Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the world attracting 585,000 visitors to 24 acres of animals, educational encounters, displays, and food.
The original Heat were members of the old National Professional Soccer League that began operations in 1991 becoming a popular draw during the decade playing front of crowds that averaged between 5,000-6,000 people to the 7,300 seat arena. However, the team would cease operations in 2003 until being rebooted 9 years later.
The current version of the Heat began in 2012 and new ownership plans to restore the club to its glory days in central Pennsylvania. Carl Delmont, CEO of Maryland-based Freedmont Mortgage looks to improve the team by signing international talent in hopes of producing success on and off the artificial turf.
Food & Beverage 3
There are multiple concession stands throughout the inner-main concourse with only a handful open, but still, manage to supply customers with food and drink. There is also a beer garden that offers a multitude of beer, ciders, and alcoholic beverages.
The prices and selection are reasonable and include chicken tender basket ($6), hot dogs ($3), cheeseburgers ($6), grilled chicken sandwich ($7.25), nachos ($3), pizza ($3.50) and fries ($3.25). There also two types of sausages for $6: Italian and hot varieties. To wash all of these items down, the facility offers Coca-Cola products at $3.25-$4.25 respectively.
The beer garden houses 26 different bottled beers ranging from local favorites Tröegs, Yuengling, and Yards to national brands of Bud, Coors, and PBR. There also Jack’s Ciders and Not Your Father’s alcoholic beverages. The prices range from $6.50-$8 a bottle in the beer garden. The concession stands also sell premium and domestic beers for $6 and $7 respectively.
The Harrisburg Heat provide a nice way to spend a cold winter’s evening indoors. The facility itself is in surprising sound condition for its age and features a wide concourse to house activities and easy access to the building and seating concourse.
The merchandise tent offers t-shirts, hoodies, zip-ups, flags, replica jerseys, and other paraphernalia at reasonable prices-a jersey is a steal at $50. Adjacent to the tent is the official fan club that looks to boost up its membership. There is even an area where kids can get balloon sculptures made for free. The night we visited the arena the Heat were hosting local businesses who were offering free samples of products and information around the curved concourse area.
The arena floor is mostly covered in dirt for the Farm Show and the field itself rests on top of it for home games. The dirt creates a track around the boards and field, but also provides a cushy balance for the artificial surface for players. The sightlines are pretty good for games and there is not a bad seat anywhere in the house, even way up on top the view of the field is unobstructed. A simple scoreboard hovers over centerfield that seems somewhat out of date in terms of graphics; however, ownership is looking to install video boards in the future for replays.
The Farm Show Complex is a few miles away from downtown Harrisburg by car. The state capital of Pennsylvania offers plenty to do if in town for the weekend along the Susquehanna River. Top tourist spots include the National Civil War Museum, State Capitol, Ft. Hunter Mansion and Park, and Riverfront Park.
For nightlife, downtown offers the Susquehanna Ale House, Sawyers, Bourbon Street Saloon, and Appalachian Brewing Company. However, Mr. G’s Sports Bar, the official after game destination, might be a fun way to start or end your night after the game.
It’s a simple gather spot a few minutes from the arena offering pub food and music. The players and fans meet up after the game for witty banter and owner Georgio Giannaris might even buy you a drink and talk soccer at your table. I would suggest the Stadium Journey special of Cajun, Garlic, Honey wings Chicago-style (served on top of fries) and a pint of Yuengling. Also, say hi to Sammy for me and tip her well.
The game itself is fast paced, easy to follow, and highly entertaining. The collection of fans who gather for Heat games provide a knowledgeable content to the game and a few can be seen sporting the purple and orange colors of the team. There is even a collection of people who are wearing jerseys from the original club from the 1990s. They are a great group to talk to, pick their brains for memories, and share a few laughs; however, there just needs to be a lot more of them inside the building. I am sure that time will come.
The arena is 80-years-old but very easy to navigate around once inside the building. The bathrooms and concession areas are well labeled and parking is plentiful. The main concourse is where all the bathrooms, concessions, ticket windows, and merchandise booths can be found.
Return on Investment 4
There are four price points for single-game tickets for games: $14, $17, $20, and $22. Parking is $10 per car at the complex, merchandise is reasonably low, and food options are fairly priced. A single person can enjoy a game under $50 easily.
One point for the team setting up events at each home game. They include Boy Scouts, Girls Got Game, Faith, Heat Give Back Fundraiser, and Bikes, Brews, and Bands Nights.
Two points for the 26 different variety of beers at the Beer Garden. You would expect the basics at most venues this size, but 26 is definitely very impressive.