As I’ve mentioned in my posts this week, I spent the past weekend cramming in visits to three MLB ballparks. It was a great weekend watching games at Citizens Bank Park and Yankee Stadium, plus stopping by Citi Field. I’m lucky to have a good friend who lives in Jersey, Liz, who didn’t mind getting dragged to a couple of baseball games and let me crash at her place. She also turned me on to United E-fares, saving me about 20 horrible hours of Pennsylvania turnpike driving. The E-fare deals come out every Tuesday starting around $150 round trip and some go pretty quickly. The catch is you have to travel between Friday and Tuesday that week. My flight from Friday-Monday only ended up being $240, which I probably would have gotten close to in gas if I’d driven.
After a Saturday of epic adventure in NYC and not making it back to Jersey until 4 am, Liz and I woke up a little reluctantly at 9 am and headed down to Philadelphia. Liz has made the drive to Philly a bunch of times, so got us there at like warp speed on the Jersey Turnpike. She dropped me off in front of the First Base Gate since she didn’t want to walk around it with me and went to park the car in the $15 lot across the street. As soon as I set my eyes on the steel and brick structure called Citizens Bank Park, I knew I was in love. So far most of my favorite ballparks are brick, solely for the interesting architecture. It’s great when you can walk around the entire outside of a park and never get bored with what you’re seeing.
Between the First Base Gate and the Third Base Gate , here is the suite and club entrance. Here on the red brick façade are black bricks spelling out Philadelphia with mini baseball fields. McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon is at the Third Base Gate for those not interested in tailgating. When I walked by there was live music being performed on the porch. In front of the bar was a giant blowup of the Philly Phanatic, welcoming visitors to the park. On the other side of the Third Base Gate is the team shop. There’s not much going on by the other gates except the back of the scoreboard at the Left Field Gate and the loading docks between it and the Right Field Gate.
Citizens Bank Park is not directly in the city, so there is plenty of parking starting at $15 around the stadium. I was excited to see the Holiday Inn from the Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia “The World Series Defense” episode. This show is how I assume all people in Philadelphia act and I was really hoping someone would be running around in a green onesie (didn’t happen). Tailgating for Phillies baseball is pretty popular and while I was walking through a lot, I made some friends. Forget what GQ tells you about Philly fans, the majority are friendly to away fans (mean ones must have been at the Flyers game down the street). I was wearing a Cubs shirt (they’re my NL team) and they still offered me a beer. Tailgating, bringing people together since its invention! I hung out with my new friends for a little before meeting back up with Liz and entering into the stadium through the Third Base Gate.
Once in the stadium we got a hat for Liz since just being outside gives her sunburn and I did my best Philly Phanatic impression in the shop. It was hard not buying that hat, I’ll be honest! We then walked through the main concourse, which has steel beams going all which ways to the field to catch the end of the Cubs batting practice. Sad to say I didn’t get to see Alfonso Soriano, but we did chat with Phillip, another nice Phillies fan. After batting practice, we walked up to the 100 level standing room for the anthem and it was pretty crowded, especially near home plate.
Continuing on to the outfield area we passed the right field concourse which housed some games and other activities for fans. This area borders Ashburn Alley, which is my favorite spot in the whole park to watch the game. The alley has Philly staples like Tony Luke’s and Chickie’s & Pete’s, but be prepared to stand in monster lines. I’m impatient, so opted for a soft pretzel and drowned it in yellow mustard. Liz got a funnel cake and lemon ice. While I was waiting for Liz to get her food, I hung out by the bullpens behind right field. The bullpens are unique in that they’re stacked on top of each other. It’s a cool concept, especially since the visitor’s pen is on top and close to the heckling fans.
Next to the bullpens are Memory Lane, the Walk of Fame with tributes to former Phillies, and the All-Star Walk. Above Ashburn Alley is the Budweiser Rooftop, on which sits the giant Liberty Bell that lights up for home runs and wins. Moving on towards the scoreboard we saw a timeline showing the team’s logo changes over the years. Fun fact- the Phillies are the oldest one-name, one-city franchise in US professional sports. The only thing that’s changed is the logo font! Underneath the scoreboard is a sit down restaurant called Harry the K’s after the late broadcast legend.
We spent a long time in Ashburn Alley before making our way up to the 200 level that isn’t very exciting, just has the suites and club seats. When we got to the 300 level, Liz decided she was done touring the stadium and went to her seat. I continued to explore the 300 level and found the High & Inside Pub and some nice views of Philadelphia and the areas around the park. I found a good vantage point for watching some of the game from the 300 level standing room. You can’t get too close to home plate or you can’t see the batter, in line with first plate was much better. In the 300 level standing room you can hear the radio broadcast of the game which makes for great narration. As a broadcast professional, I really enjoyed this feature.
From the 300 level, I made a stop at our seats to grab Liz and some video of the view from the 400 level. Not bad at all right? We went back down to Ashburn Alley for the remainder of the game. One surprise is that they play “God Bless America” before “Take me out to the Ballgame” just like Yankee Stadium and Comerica Park.
After the game we walked over to Xfinity Live! which I was told is the new pre/post game hot spot, having just opened in March. Unfortunately for us they were at capacity for all five or so bars, so we were turned away. That was for the best since Liz and I were already pretty pooped and I had an early flight to catch the next morning. On the way home we ordered Chinese for pick up and got frozen yogurt. For my Philadelphia trip, I spent $15 on my ticket, $15 on parking, $4 on stadium food, and $20 on food later that night. For the entire weekend I ended up spending around $382 including airfare.
For me, the day trip to Philadelphia was perfect, since I’ve already been and visited all the tourist sights. If you do plan a trip solely to Philly check out my Phillies page for restaurant and transportation suggestions. The Holiday Inn also has decent rates for being so close to the park (far from the city). However you plan your trip, one thing is for sure, Citizens Bank Park will have you smitten with brotherly love!
For more pictures of my visit to Citizens Bank Park and my other ballparks of baseball trips, check out my Flickr account.