Review of Citizens Bank Park
Citizens Bank Park
Citizens Bank Park is the home of the 2008 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. Built near the former spot of the not at all missed Veterans Stadium, it is part of the massive Philadelphia Sports Complex, which includes Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL’s Eagles, and the Wachovia Center, home of the NHL’s Flyers and some minor league basketball team.
The last of the three to be built, The Bank is a vast improvement over the Vet.
Here is the FANFARE rating for CITIZENS BANK PARK:
Food & Beverage: 5 (out of 5)
It is hard to find fault with the selection here at Citizens Bank Park. You have all your ballpark classics, along with standard Philly classics like hoagies, cheesesteaks (Tony Luke’s? One word: overrated. Plenty of other choices though.), and water ice, which is like the best Italian Ice you’ve ever had, only better. They offer veggie burgers and Vegan hot dogs. There is a lot of variety to be had in Ashburn Alley, named for Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn. Running behind the outfield, you’ll find there the aforementioned Tony Luke’s, Planet Hoagie, Campo’s (more cheesesteaks), Alley Grill (any type of grilled sandwich you can imagine, including a vegetarian black bean burger) and Bull’s BBQ. If you’ve been to Baltimore, Bull’s is almost as good as Boog’s. Almost. But Bull’s variety is better.
There is a surprisingly good sit down restaurant in left field called Harry the K’s, named for the late, great Harry Kalas. Terrific selections include pork tacos, Basil Fettuccine and Steak Spring Rolls. Beyond that it is standard American fare. There are two levels, full restaurant downstairs, full service bar upstairs.
Do not, under any circumstances, leave the park without getting an order of Crab Fries from the mini Chickie’s and Pete’s. You will regret it for the rest of your life. Unless you go to the big Chickie’s and Pete’s after the game. More on that later.
The beer selection is decent, not great, but well priced, around seven bucks for 21 ounces.
One warning: Arrive early, and eat early, or you might be in line for the whole game. There are a lot of people here every night.
In a word, electric. As mentioned above, this place is packed to the gills every single night. The view below is from the standing room only section on the third level.
The rally towels are crazy in person; TV does not do them justice. The Bank gets an extra point here for being the site of a final game of a winning championship. The stadium is not old enough to have a deep history yet, though Phillies fans would argue that the 2008 World Title was pretty historical, and then push you down a flight of stairs for disagreeing.
Here’s the thing. There really is no neighborhood, per se. The stadium is part of the Philadelphia Sports Complex as mentioned above, which consists of three full sized sporting venues (four, if you count the Wachovia Spectrum, scheduled to be closed in October, 2009) and parking for each. There is a bar attached to the stadium called McFadden’s, which is just your run of the mill Irish pub. They do have live bands play before and after home games, which is cool if you like that sort of thing. The closest neighborhood bar, Chickie’s and Pete’s is a 20-30 minute walk, which is tough to do after a Phillies game. But it might be worth it. More on that later, but not close enough to really be considered part of the stadium’s neighborhood. Special mention to the Chickie’s and Pete’s Taxi Crab, which will drop you off before and pick you up after games if you valet park with them for ten bucks.
The fans are loud and rowdy, but actually much better behaved than they were at the Vet. Of course, I was rooting for the Phillies, so no one bothered me. I have seen fans of the opposing teams hassled a little here; however, there was nothing over the top. Again, though, I am a Phillies fan, so over the top might be a matter of perspective. Say what you will about us, we know the game, and we show up, win or lose. Oh, there’s heckling and booing too. Phillies fans are a passionate bunch. There was even a guy with his face painted. In the third deck. At a BASEBALL game. Who paints their face for a baseball game?
And contrary to legend, there is no jail in the stadium. That was at The Vet.
This stadium is right off I-95, the main interstate on the East Coast. It is easy to find. There is more parking than you will know what to do with, and it is only $12. You are not allowed to tailgate in The Bank’s lots, which I thought was a silly thing to even have to say (who tailgates at baseball games?) until I saw people tailgating in Lincoln Financial Field’s lot across the street. Oh, yeah, Philly fans tailgate at Bingo, I forgot. Like with most of the new ballparks, bathrooms are plentiful, with family changing rooms in select locations. They were surprisingly clean.
Return on Investment: 4
An excellent stadium, as evidenced by the fact that 45,000 or so people come to it every night. The food is a hair overpriced, but not for a ballpark. They will sell standing room only tickets at a discount three hours before game time if they are available. If you need to sit down, find a friend who doesn’t need their tickets, or you will be paying a broker a lot of money. They sell out virtually every game.
Extra Points: 5
Chickie’s and Pete’s (www.chickiesandpetes.com) gives this the full 5 points here. Not really close enough to walk (and not really feasible, either, you WILL be towed if you park here and go to the game, and The Bank’s lots close about one hour after the game), it really can’t be included in the neighborhood. (Its website claims to be walking distance. It’s not. To quote the comedian Steven Wright, “Everything is within walking distance if you have the time.”) But it is absolutely part of the whole picture. As mentioned above, you can valet park your car here for $10. The Taxi Crab will drive you to the stadium, then pick you up and bring you back after. The Crab Fries must be eaten to be believed. If you like seafood, this is the spot. If you like bar food, this is the spot. If you like giant TV screens almost one and a half stories tall, this is the spot. It was rated “Best Sports Bar on the East Coast” by ESPN, and it lives up to it. They have “Beer Towers,” a three foot (or so) tall container of beer with a tap on it. It holds 120 ounces for $25 (domestic) or $30 (imported). It is ESPNZone without all the annoying glitz. It is your neighborhood bar with lots of makeup on, looking all hot at the club on a Friday night. You have to come here. Forget the stadium. Just come here.
FANFARE Total: 29 (out of 35)
The lack of a neighborhood notwithstanding, Citizens Bank Park is an overall great place to see a game. Is it worth a special trip to Philadelphia just for that? I wouldn’t go that far. But if you are in town, it is a must stop. Forget the Liberty Bell, come to The Bank. And Chickie’s and Pete’s.
For more stadium reviews and information on the FANFARE rating system, go to www.stadiumjourney.com.