Ballpark Reviews, Baseball, Travel

Ballpark Review: Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies)

Philadelphia has long been on Scott’s wish list, primarily because of Rocky, cheesesteaks, and – more recently – Bryce Harper (one of his favorite players). We got to see a Harper homer during this MVP-caliber season, enjoyed some $1 hotdogs, and experienced Citizens Bank Park’s gorgeous Philadelphia skyline views.

Design

The stadium exterior includes red brick, concrete, and granite. The interior had bowl style seating inspired by former Phillies ballparks (Baker Bowl and Connie Mack Stadium). The four entrance plazas were pretty basic.

The Philadelphia skyline view from the stadium is beautiful and perfectly centered. During sunset, gradients stretch from the left upper deck across the city line. It is a little far away but still a great view.

The design depiction of team and city history was excellent. Behind center field stretches Ashburn Alley, named after Phillies Hall of Fame center fielder Richie Ashburn. It includes an All-Star Walk, Memory Lane and Phillies Wall of Fame, Games of Baseball, great bullpen views with beautiful flowers surrounding them, rooftop bleachers, and multiple themed concessions.

Besides the Richie Ashburn statue in Ashburn Alley, there were statues of three other famous Phillies — Robin Roberts (at the First Base Gate), Mike Schmidt (at the Third Base Gate) and Steve Carlton (at the Left Field Gate). A bronze statue of legendary broadcaster Harry Kalas is also behind Section 141.

A large lighted Liberty Bell hovers above right center field and lights up after every Phillies home run and victory. There’s a rainbow-lighted Liberty Bell outside the stadium in front of the Pass and Stow.

The functionality including ease of getting around and accessing main area was great. They have an open-air concourse around the main level with lots of standing terrace areas, which allows continuous game viewing.

The scoreboard visibility and style was very basic but functional. We liked that ads didn’t frame the entire board like most stadiums. All the ads stay the same so aren’t distracting from the game. Phillies sign above the video screen isn’t very bright and looks a little dated. The stadium also has old orange lighted scoreboards along right field. The video screen on the right field side shows highlights squished into the wrong aspect ratio, which really annoyed Scott.

The blue seats complemented the red brick and Phillies colors well. We liked the evergreen tree batter’s eye.

Location

The stadium is located in the South Philadelphia Sports Complex as the team and city couldn’t work out a deal to build in Center City. Xfinity Live (similar to Ballpark Village in St. Louis) is located in the middle of all the Philly stadiums. This venue provides a fun hangout area before, during, and after games for fans.

Getting to the stadium (via public transit or driving) wasn’t great from downtown using Uber/Lyft. Drop off points weren’t labeled or even existent. Our Uber driver had to do a U-turn and drop us off in a disallowed spot and we still had to walk a ways to the stadium. All the streets around the stadium are blocked off so our first Lyft request got cancelled. We ended up having to walk all the way to the Live Casino to get picked up by a new Lyft driver. This driver also had to do a U-turn to get out of the mess. After talking to some locals, it appears that they are trying to discourage ride share and want people to either park in one of their many lots or use public transit. I assume parking is pretty pricey and it looked like a huge pain for drivers to get out of the huge parking lots. It’s probably best to use the subway system if coming from downtown.

Safety of the surrounding area seemed quite good. There were quite a few cops patrolling outside the stadium.

Concessions

The food quality and originality was decent. As expected, there were a plethora of cheesesteak options (Campo’s, Tony Luke’s). We tried a burnt ends cheesesteak from Bull’s BBQ (named in honor of and owned in part by former Phillies outfielder Greg “The Bull” Luzinski). It was unfortunately overpriced (at $15) and underwhelming – tasted like cold, uncharred chunks of brisket.

We also got crab fries and cheese dip from Chickie’s and Pete’s. They tasted like Cajun-seasoned crinkle-cut fries… no crab involved, just “crab seasoning.” They were decent but not worth $13. Scott really doesn’t like crinkle-cut fries in general but they appeared to be the most popular dish at the ballpark so we had to try them. There were many other options including Shake Shack (Scott’s favorite burger place), pizza, and vegetarian / gluten-free options.

Beverage quality and variety was slightly above average. We got the official beer of the Phillies, Yuengling, which we’ve always enjoyed but isn’t available in Missouri. There were many other local options.

The overall value for the money (i.e. bang for your buck) was ok. We came on $1 hotdog night which was a great deal. We got 3 hotdogs and saw many other fans loading up on dogs. Our tickets were $39 each was pretty pricey for a mid-week game in the upper decks.

Amenities

The stadium had several unique areas. The Pass and Stow area within the Third Base Plaza features an outdoor beer garden and Goose Island Bar at the Park, Foundry Pizza, and a family-friendly sports pub with TVs. Pass and Stow is a nod to the Liberty Bell. There was a private event going on when we passed by so didn’t linger long.

There was a Miller Lite Terrace and Budweiser Rooftop, both of which were pretty crowded. High and Inside Pub is located on the Terrace Level behind home plate. The Diamond and Hall of Fame Clubs are the two premium seating areas in the park, with access directly from the outside.

Family friendly activities (i.e. stuff for kids) are featured at The Yard and include a Wiffle ball field, Hatfield Phanatic Hot Dog Launcher, climbing wall, speed pitch, and ice cream bar. They also have a Phanatic Phun Zone, located at the First Base Gate plaza, featuring a playground for kids. It unfortunately was closed during our visit due to pandemic precautions.

Seating comfort including leg space and ease to reach was typical and included cupholders.

The bi-level team store features regular merchandise on the first level and kids stuff on the second level. The ‘47 Alley Store featured authentic replicas of older Phillies jerseys. There was a very small authentics shop. We weren’t super impressed with the offerings. They didn’t have a museum included.

Culture

The overall atmosphere including music, sound, and fan activities was decent. There wasn’t a lot of music played throughout or even between innings. What’s in the Box was entertaining as players tried to guess a mystery item in a box by feeling it. Flex Cam, live digital ballgame on videoscreen, and the Pep Boys race car game were fun ways to engage the fans.

Galapagos Gang (Bessie, Calvin, Sid, and Iggy) are inflatable characters that made a very short appearance on the video screen.

Fans were pretty engaged, but were pretty critical of their players. They booed when Williams dropped the ball, but there was lots of cheering during the Harper homer.

The integration of franchise history in game and design was pretty good. Everything that starts with a F is replaced with Ph (e.g. Phanatic).

Phillie Phanatic, the mascot, shot hotdogs from a hotdog canon at the bottom of the 5th.

Celebration of monumental moments (i.e. home runs, wins) was unique, but not that exciting. The Liberty Bell lights up and rings after every Phillies home run (and win). We got to join in the cheering after Harper and Hoskins HRs!

Summary & Scoring

Date Visited: August 25, 2021
Game Played: Tampa Bay 7, Phillies 4 – Harper and Hoskins HRs for the Phillies and Lowe and Mejia HRs for the Rays. Boxscore
Design: 4.3 out of 5 stars – The skyline view is excellent, and Ashburn Alley is nice, but the Liberty Bell is the main focal point and isn’t very exciting.
Location: 3.4 out of 5 stars – Shares a parking lot with every other Philadelphia stadiums, but traffic surrounding the area was terrible and getting a rideshare was almost impossible due to road closures. Not close to downtown.
Concessions: 3.5 out of 5 stars – Dollar hotdog night provided good value, but the cheesesteaks and popular crab fries failed to impress us.
Amenities: 4 out of 5 stars – One of the best kids areas we’ve seen.
Culture: 2.8 out of 5 stars – The fans we experienced were negative and not particularly friendly.
Overall: 3.5 out of 5 stars – A solid yet forgettable stadium that gets a few bonus points for its excellent kids areas.

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1 Comment

  • Reply David Perdue September 9, 2021 at 8:24 am

    Phantastic job Sarah!

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