For decades, Philadelphia fans have been going to the Sports Complex to get their pro sports fix. In the
early 70's people came down to see their teams play at Veterans Stadium, the Spectrum, and on
occasion JFK Stadium. As the years went on, these venues began to fall out of favor with the fans and
the clubs that played in them, and by and by the look of this complex changed. First was the razing of
JFK to make way for the Core States (now Wachovia) Center in the late 90s., followed by construction
of Lincoln Financial Field in the early 00s. With three of the four major sports teams in stellar modern
facilities, Philly fan awaited the opening of a new home for the Phillies with anticipation. And with the
smoldering remnants of  "The Vet" close by, Citizens Bank Park threw open its doors in April, 2004,
thus completing an amazing transformation of the Sports Complex.

Getting to the venue

Gosh, how many times do we have to hammer this home!! No matter what sports team in Philly you
wish to see, the way to get here is still the same. I-95 runs right by the complex, and there are several
clearly marked exits in which to get off of if traveling by car. As usual, plenty of surface parking all
around CBP for $10-$20, with more to come once the land where the Vet once stood is cleared and
paved.  If you arrive early enough, there are some free spots to be had along Packer Avenue just two
blocks away.  As always, the subway lines' last stop is at Broad Street just a short walk from the
complex.

Outside the venue

The complete opposite of what we saw in San Diego. Well, there's... nothing much... A Turf Club for the
Philadelphia Park Racetrack (of Smarty Jones fame)... and a sports bar at the nearby Holiday Inn...and
not much else besides plenty of parking lots. But again, that's nothing new, and as it would appear, the
setup here makes for some good tailgating in the lots where that is permitted.

The statues that were displayed outside the Vet were spared, as the Connie Mack statue sits across
the street to the west of the ballpark, and the statues that used to adorn each corner of the Vet will be in
that same lot once it is prepped for parking.

The exterior/concourses

Citizens Bank Park has a common architectural theme, with its red brick facade and its wrought iron
gates, but that's where the similarity with its peer venues ends as there are some nuances to the brick
exterior here. First off, one the upper half of the facade is a baseball type of mural which extends
around most of the exterior, and the major design element of the facade is the word PHILADELPHIA,
interwoven into the brickwork across the front of the venue, right above the home plate entrance.

Fans can enter through five different entrances, Joe Schmoes like us enter at the First Base, Third
Base, Left Field and Right Field entryways, while those of us with the rich boy seats get to enter
through the Home Plate club and suite level entrance. Each of these entrances have their own unique
style to them: First Base is where you will find a statue of Robin Roberts, the main ticket office and a
kids play area. Third Base is the home of a statue of Mike Schmidt, and of McFaddens Bar and Grill, a
restaurant open year round as well as game days. The Right Field entrance will introduce you to The
Bulls Barbecue and is a good starting point for Ashburns Alley (more on that later). Left Field has a
statue of "Lefty" Steve Carlton greeting you on the way inside. Again, for you rich folk entering through
the Home Plate entrance, just look down on the floor and see the murals of 20 or so famous Phillies
silhouetted in one famous pose or another, and yes there is a key to determine who is who. (Tug
McGraw obviously being the easiest one to spot in mid-leap after winning the World Series in 1980.

As is the case in most newer ballparks, the lower concourse has a view of the field from all sections,
and this is where you'll find the main merchandise stand, McFadden's Bar and Grill and most major
concessions. However it is the upper concourse that is most impressive as it also has a view of the
field from the third base side up around behind home plate to the first base side. Also plenty of railings
along the edge of the concourses overlooking the field to stand and catch the action. Even here in the
upper concourse is a cool sports bar named the High and Inside Pub where fans can kick back and
watch some other sports action on plenty of monitors (rumor has  it this was a hot spot to be during the
Flyers playoff run.)

But the signature aspect here at Citizens Bank Park is the concourse that runs beyond the outfield wall
from the entrance in left to the entrance in right, aptly named Ashburn's Alley in honor of the great
Phillies CF of the 50s. So much to do, so much to see for any kind of fan, whether it be the die hard or
the casual one... no stone is left unturned. For concessions, there is Bull's Barbecue, a stand run by
former Phillies great Greg Luzinski and present quite often. Also here are Geno's and Tony Luke's, two
of this city's renowned cheesesteak hotspots. If the kids or the kid in the adult want to play games,
there are interactive kinds, one involving a giant pinball game, another where kids race on another
around the bases while standing in place on an "eyetoy", and the good ole' speed pitch gets a twist as
pitchers get to throw at a moving catcher. Also, a merchandise store is in the left field area which
specializes in creating personalized jerseys... rumor has it that Mitch Williams  #99 isn't exactly flying
off the shelves here.

For the diehard fan who wants to remember the days of yesteryear there is plenty to see. While walking
around, they can look down and see the names of the Phillies All Stars in the brick mosaic, grouped by
position along the walkway. A large statue of Richie himself sits directly in the center of the walkway,
and if one takes a ramp down towards the bullpen in front of the alley, they'll pass by Memory Lane, a
huge pictorial mural and timeline of Philadelphia baseball which is neatly grouped into three eras -
Baker Bowl, Shibe Park (Connie Mack Stadium) and Veterans Stadium. The mural also includes
moments from the Negro League as well as the Athletics to boot. Speaking of the bullpens, they are
set up so one overlooks the other in bi-level fashion, all within full view of Phillyfan... take a wild guess
as to which 'pen is closer to the fans... no need to answer that do we!!

Hey, while you're at the bullpen ledge , note the descriptions along the ledge of some of the pitches
that players use, along with a sculpture type ball with indentations so fans can see and feel for
themselves where the fingers go on the ball for each style of pitch.

Seating bowl

Three levels of blue seats extend from the left field corner all the around to the right field power alley.
As in San Diego, the major video board and dot matrix board stand above the left field seating area. .
Looking for our of town scores? Then check out the right field wall, where all of the MLB scores are
provided with game situation as well (outs, pitcher, runners on base) along with the occasional
Phillies minor league scores and pitch speed /count. The view beyond center field offers a look at the
downtown Philadelphia skyline... errr... "Center City" skyline. Some nice landscaping beyond the left
and center field fences, with a hedgerow of flowers alternate red and white and back  just above the
right field fence, and some more hedges beyond the centerfield fence  in front of the red brick batters
eye.
Off toward the right field power alley, high above Ashburn's Alley  is a three story high Liberty Bell that
lights up and clangs after each Phillie home run or victory. Just below that is a small bleacher section
meant to resemble the rooftop bleachers that were across the street from the right field fence at Shibe
Park... heck, if they really wanted to do it up right, they should have put a 50 foot fence in center, thus
blocking the view of the field as Connie Mack did at Shibe years ago.

Advertising along several spots along the balconies, some being of the backlit type while others are
LED style, and a running scoreboard is on the first base side.

Concessions

We already said a bit about Bull's BBQ and the renowned cheesesteak stands in the alley, but there's
a bit more to tell about the concession stands here. Most notably that almost all of the stands are
named for famed Philly neighborhoods or other Philly brand food staples. "Brewerytown" featuring the
local ales, "Old City Creamery" for the sweet tooth, "South Philly Market" for classic
dreck,
"Neighborhood Pizza"; each stand honoring a different part of Philly and so much more. Even better is
that each and every one of these stands comes with a small description of the area it's named after.  
(Message to our HSBC Arena in Buffalo ---  this is lesson one in "how to improve the look of your
venue".)

Also overlooking left field is Harry the K's,  a bi-level restaurant and bar with tables that offer a view of
the field. This place is named for longtime Phillies broadcaster  Harry Kalas... one of the great voices
of America's pastime.

One unique stand that has to be seen is the "Build A Phanatic" store in the left field corner, where fans
can have their own custom made Phanatic doll, during our visit the lines were constantly put the door
as this appears to be THE hot must have item here at CBP.

Premium/club seating

This part of the venue was fantastic! The Hall of Fame Club on the 200 level is loaded with
memorabilia, with murals featuring excerpts of Philly Hall of Famers speeches upon their induction to
Cooperstown. Also included here is an exhibit featuring mementos of the Philadelphia Athletics. A
video screen in hologram format yet again sets the bar in terms of technological  enhancements.

The Diamond Club is the super premium level behind home plate and offers a view of the indoor
batting cages  (one way mirror) and features a mural of some of the Phillies finest  players. A nicely
appointed seating area offers a pregame buffet. The club areas have their own private entrance directly
behind home plate.

Banners/retired numbers

YAAAYY! Guess what folks! The Phillies actually put their banners and retired numbers  back in the
view of the seating bowl where they ought to be!!! Way back on the pedestrian walkway that is just
beyond and overlooking Ashburn's Alley  there are three groups of flags, one for the NL Division Titles
won, one for the NL Championships won, and only one flag  for that one and only World Series  victory
in 1980.  Painted into the brick are the retired numbers of  Robin Roberts (36), Steve Carlton (32), Mike
Schmidt (20),  Jim Bunning (14),  Richie Ashburn (1), and Jackie Robinson  (42). Well done!!!

Home Runs, Hits, Errors...

Home Run...the
karma returns as the Phillies defeat the Braves by a 4-1 score as former Bisons (well
the second one's a stretch) David Bell and Jim Thome homered to send the home folks back to their
cars in a good mood.

Home Run... once again to the Sampsons of Bensalem, who put up with us...ummm... put us up for a
couple of days while we were in town. Swear to goodness, we need an elite club within the USRT Hall
of Fame for these folks! Then again, think about this utterly useless USRT statistic involving them...

Error... every freakin' time the Sampsons come with us to plant the flag at an official USRT stop (3
times so far), something unusually bad or weird occurs! Our Phillies Vet experience involved a three
hour rain delay, our Flyers experience had a snafu involving access to the building which almost left us
out on the curb, and when they were with us at CBP, there were more rain delays  of over three hours
again!! No offense at all folks, just something we realized on the drive home.

Hit... the starting lineup of the Phillies can be found on giant baseball card at the left field
entrance...nice touch!!!

Hit... to our favorite concession item... the Schmitter - a cheesesteak with salami, tomato,cheese and
special sauce piled on top.

Home run... thank you to the Phillies for giving us the VIP treatment during our time there... thank you for
showing the ins and outs of the entire venue and big props goes to Deborah Rinaldi, the ballpark's PR
director. Deb, along with Phillies media coordinator Maryann Gettis are welcomed to the hallowed
halls of the USRT Hall of Fame.

Hit... a brush with greatness!, as we chatted with Hall of Famer and 300 game winner Don Sutton in
the press elevator after Sunday's game.

Hit... the seats here at CBP aqre incredibly  wide and spacious... even the more fuller figured people  
should have no time fitting into a chair here.

One big prop to SMARTY JONES, the local athlete who was on his way to a Triple Crown at Belmont,
after winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. His quest fell short, but on this weekend, signs
were up all over the yard cheering Smarty on.

Summary

So much to do, so much to see here at Citizens Bank Park. The builders and designers of this venue
did a fine job of taking a park away from a downtown/urban synergy and creating one by putting a
mother lode of attractions and amenities within the stadium walls. This place is a venue that is
impossible to truly experience to the fullest in one game or even two. To get the full effect of all this
ballpark has to offer one probably needs a full weekend here, and that we must say is a first for us.
Philadelphia you have every reason to be proud of the Cit, a place that is a total contrast to its
predecessor and a super place not just to see a baseball game, but to experience the fine sport in all
its glory.

SCORING:
Architecture 8
Food and team store 9.5
Scoreboard and electronics 7.5
Ushers 6
Fan support 6
Location and neighborhood 4
Banners and history 9
In game entertainment 8
Concourses/fan comfort 8
Bonus: USRT assist 4; Ashburn Alley 2; Liberty Bell 1; Philly Phanatic 2

Total: 75
Citizens Bank Park
Citizens
Bank
Park



Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania



May 30-31,
2004



Atlanta
Braves
at
Philadelphia
Phillies



New York
Mets
at
Philadelphia
Phillies


Return visit:
July 3, 2009

New York
Mets
at
Philadelphia
Phillies