Note: I went here in 2008 and wrote a short review, and did a follow up in 2012 (photos above). A full, in depth review will come out during the summer of 2017. I generally echo the consensus on Citizens Bank Park: if it wasn’t for the sub-par location in the middle of a South Philadelphia parking lot, this would be a top 5-10 ballpark. But as will be the general theme of my review, it is remarkable how a poor location indirectly effects other factors, such as interior and exterior design. The Phillies compensated by building a ballpark that might be #1 in objective factors, such as excellent regional food, great sightlines, an outstanding videoboard, perhaps the best concourses in baseball, excellent appreciation of baseball and Phillies history, and expansive entertainment options. Anyway, here is the short introduction I wrote in 2008, which is obviously subject to change:
Phillies create innovative interior design, extensive fan friendly amenities, to make up for terrible location
By: Cole Shoemaker
Every nationally renowned ballpark gets its praise either from its outstanding aesthetic appeal or its location. The true retro movement is about context in a community.
When the Phillies new downtown location got rejected, fans groaned and architectural critics denounced the possibility of another “retro” structure without a sense of place.
Somehow, despite not having an epic or distinctive aesthetic vision, Citizens Bank Park has overcome that. Sure it will never be a top ballpark because of its lack of place and recycled retro design, but the architects used the poor location and lack of context as a justification to take a step forward in functional design.
How? Let me make this clear: while Safeco Field may give it a run for it’s money, this is the most fan friendly ballpark in the majors. It’s really a ballpark you have to attend to appreciate.
The seating geometry and sightlines are so perfect that it’s noticeably better. You want to experience this park from all angles. The concourses are open on all levels, with tables at the back of the seating. This was the first ballpark to do that. More entertainment features, more memorabilia, more unique local concession choices than ever before. Look at number of unique restaurants and watering holes around the ballpark. You have to look for the details. And all the features and amenities cater to the average fan, not the fat cats.
In a way, it’s kind of like the second Camden Yards in ballpark design, thought from a functional point of view. Many of the fan friendly cues you see here have been copied in every successive park.
The management works hard to make this the best ballpark experience in baseball and it shows. The fans are great as always. Customer Service is excellent. Even check out the ballpark website, which is probably the most extensive in the majors. There’s even an “access guide” telling you the best way to get to your seat from your section.
And it’s not bad to look at either. While the exterior doesn’t break any ground, it’s reflective of Philadelphia. The interior seating design, with its sleek angles, divided seating areas, and attractive color scheme, is aesthetically pleasing in its own right without a setting to emphasize. Few can say that.
Citizens Bank Park is really a blue-collar ballpark that reflects the community. Despite the shortcomings, it works hard to provide the best functional experience. In terms of the “functionality” and “amenities” scorecard to your right, it’s an objectively flawless ballpark, similar to Comerica, perhaps Nationals Park and now Safeco (with the replacement of the videoboard for 2013). However, it’s amazing how a ballpark’s location really permeates all aspects in some way, because that’s about the only thing this park does wrong.NEXT - Setting