Sunday, May 31, 2009

Justin's Review: Citizens Bank Park

Ballpark Design: Citizen’s Bank Park is a classic example of the new ballparks that have been built over the past ten years or so. It has all the features that the best new ballparks have – open concourses, an angled outfield, a large scoreboard – as well as many touches that make it uniquely Philadelphia. You can’t help but immediately notice the defining feature of the ballpark, the gigantic glowing Liberty Bell hanging over the outfield that lights up and sways as if it’s ringing after every Phillies home run. Ashburn Alley, the concourse surrounded by shops and food stands in the outfield, is also unique to the park, offering a chance to stroll through the long (and mostly tortured) history of the Phillies. At the same time, however, much of the rest of the park lacks truly defining features – if you're sitting behind home plate looking at the field, other than the big Liberty Bell, you could easily confuse it for a number of other parks built recently. Not totally a problem since all those parks are beautiful, but there is certainly a slightly generic feel to it. And of course, flying above it all is that gigantic flag with the number “2008” on it, making it very clear that you are watching the world champs. B+

Scoreboards/Soundtrack: The video screen is pretty small as far as new ballparks go (although maybe I’m just jaded by that monster screen at the new Yankee Stadium), and it’s one of very few ballparks I’ve seen that still has one of those old matrix boards on the main scoreboard. However, like the Mets, they have a fantastic out of town scoreboard (despite the fact that it had the Yankees and Indians scores were reversed for the first half the game, leading me to believe that Hideki Matsui was pitching for the Yankees), although it is in the right field wall rather then above the upper deck. B-

Food/Drink: We were stuffed full of food by my grandparents before coming to the ballpark, so neither of us ate much during the game. However, the food choices looked great, particularly in Ashburn Alley, including cheesesteaks, burgers, and all kinds of other ballpark food. The only thing I had during the game was a Philadelphia water ice, which was fine. Mike had a couple beers, and had a bit of trouble finding anything other than Budweiser on the upper deck, but eventually found a place with better beers. B+

Fans: The ballpark was probably about 95% full, and many more people stayed for the whole game than at Citi Field (despite the fact that the game was actually a bit longer). The fans were into it throughout, if not quite as loud as at other ballparks I’ve been to. Like at the Mets game, however, they did the wave, which is a big negative in my book (watch the game!!!). We talked to a few Phillies fans during the game, all of whom were pleasant and excited to hear about our trip, contrary to the reputation that Phillies fans usually get. B+

City: I spent six months last year living in Philadelphia, and liked it a lot. It certainly feels much smaller than New York, or even DC (despite having more people), but still is a fun city with a lot to do. We didn’t get much of a chance to explore it yesterday, but my past experiences in the city have been good. My only complaints would be the relative lack of good public transportation in most of the city, and the crime and poverty problems that Philly, like many other cities, is suffering from. But it really is one of the great American cities full of great baseball fans. B+

Stadium neighborhood: What neighborhood? My single biggest problem with Citizens Bank Park is that it’s stuck in the middle of a giant parking lot far from anything remotely interesting, other than a football stadium and a basketball/hockey arena. D

Game: The game certainly made up for the lack of offense at Citi Field. The Phillies won 9-6, powered by two Ryan Howard moonshots into the third deck, the second of which was a grand slam. The Nationals had the lead early, and kept it relatively close after the Ryan Howard slam, threatening a couple times in the late innings, before Brad Lidge shut the door. Not as exciting as the Mets game, but a good game nonetheless. B

Overall: While I wasn’t as impressed with Citizens Bank Park as with Citi Field, it’s a great ballpark in a great city. It was a beautiful night for baseball and we saw a good game, so I can’t ask for much more. B+

1 comment:

  1. Somehow my hand didn't manage to make it into any photos this time. Weird. But when you least expect it, it will strike!!!!!