My girlfriend and I are headed down to the Phils game tomorrow. Dazzling Dan Hill got tickets for all of us. Hall of Fame Club, one o’clock national television game, wildcard race in the balance. Ryan Howard just ripped his 58th to the opposite field and the place is going nuts.
It should be an awesome time. There is nothing like playoff baseball and I am really looking forward to seeing these guys play. A few beers, ball park food, great friends and a pennant race are about all a man can ask for. Well, there are a few other things, but well, this is a family blog, right mom?
Just one thing bothers me thinking about the game. It’s a really nice ballpark. But in typical Philadelphia fashion, we decided not to do anything really special when we decided to plop it in the parking lot of The Vet, thus finishing the South Philadelphia Sports Complex. One of the things that makes Fenway, Yankee, Camden Yards, Jacobs Field, and the rest really superior places to watch a game are the neighborhoods they are part of.
We decided that way more important than a truly special stadium experience that linked the team and the city, creating a true destination stadium was to make it easy to park. You don’t go to the game to park the friggin mini-van. You go for the experience.
So instead of burying 95, building the stadium right on top of the highway and re-connecting Penn’s Landing and Old City, we gave up the only chance we will ever have to fix the disaster of 1970s planning that disconnected a river town from its water. We decided that ease of parking and access to interstates was better than tourism value and being one of a kind.
The guys at Sports Illustrated have it right. The ranked Citizens Bank Park #15 in the majors, and noted “Really, it's a shame that such a marvelous ballpark is stuck in Philly's stadium office park, near the homes of the Eagles and the Sixers. While that makes for easy commuting via public transportation, it also makes for a lousy pre- and postgame scene -- and that makes for an all-too-quick experience at a picture-perfect park.”
We should have spent the billion and hit a home run. Instead we spent $346 million and hit a double. Oh well. I’ll still have a great time tomorrow.