Each year, Patrick and I try to visit a new ballpark. After over three years of living in Baltimore, less than two hours south of Philadelphia, we finally decided to make the trip to Citizens Bank Park to catch the last two games of the Red Sox series. 

Although my sample size is small, this is now my second favorite ballpark. In no particular order, here are ten things that I loved about my visit to the City of Brotherly Love. 

1. Veggie Dogs

Everyone knows that hot dogs are the ultimate baseball food. When I had to stop eating red meat and pork almost a decade ago, I turned to veggie dogs to get my fix. Say what you will about veggie dogs not being “authentic,” but the fact of the matter is people choose to not eat meat for a plethora of reasons— in my case, reasons out of my control. Because of this, it’s important to me that baseball stadiums make vegetarian options accessible. The Phillies provided me with one of the cheapest and most delicious veggie dogs I’ve ever had, so a huge shout out to them for this inclusion. 

2. Summer Shandy on Draft

While hot dogs are the ultimate food, Summer Shandies are, for me, the perfect summer baseball sip (followed closely by Blue Moon). I thought I was spoiled by Camden Yards having it in the can, so I was absolutely ecstatic beyond belief to find that Citizens Bank Park has it on draft in copious amounts. My cup of choice was a giant baseball bat that holds about two beers and sets you back thirty bucks. Totally worth it. Once I finished it, I got a can. Once you go draft … there’s not much going back. 

3. Lights 

I love a good light show. I think it’s a very under-utilized hype-up strategy. So many ballparks do the “Let’s go ______” prompt every ten seconds, and it always gets old by the third inning. The Phillies understand that less is more, and choose to let the lights speak more than music and chants. Every time there’s a strikeout, the stadium lights turn into “K”, and whenever there’s a home run, the stadium goes primarily dark with the Liberty Bell flashing, ringing, and illuminating the stadium. It’s such a great addition to this fun atmosphere.

4. Water Ice 

Everywhere I turned, there were people eating “Philadelphia Water Ice.” On our second day, I finally decided to try it for myself. It’s not hard to track down, with stands every 50 feet or so, but it is a time commitment. It’s so popular that there’s almost always a long line. While this may deter some, it only made my FOMO increase, so I grabbed a lemon water ice. It was delicious and refreshing on our very warm, packed “Mother’s Day” game (Mother’s Day isn’t until a week after our visit, but it’s their last home game before the holiday itself). I highly recommend this stadium favorite!

5. Bullpen Seating 

I always enjoy watching guys warm up in the bullpen, and I was really impressed to see that there was bullpen seating available. Granted, it gives you an almost entirely obstructed view of the field, but the Sox were up by four and it was a great change of pace. Visiting teams be warned, there is a LOT of heckling going on everywhere, but especially in this area of the park … heckling which is directed both toward fans and the team. If that’s not your cup of tea, maybe stick with your seats. 

6. Intimacy of Park 

The park feels very small and intimate. I don’t think it actually is when it comes down to overall space, but it seems like you could toss a rock from one end to the other. This is partially because the seats extend much higher than the ballparks I frequent, rather than spreading out. For me, this really added to the community-oriented feel of the park. Not only did it feel close-knit, but the fans felt close-knit. With such close quarters, everyone was making friends with everyone, it’s essentially a real-life dating app for singles, and there are clear fan-employee relationships happening all around. To me, baseball is all about community and sharing a love for America’s Pastime, so this was great to see. 

7. Lots of Standing-Room 

If you don’t have a seat, which is very likely considering how popular the Phillies are after their World Series appearance last year (we had to buy standing room almost a month in advance!), there are a million standing room options. The understanding seems to be, if you can stand there, it’s standing room. On both days we went, the park was PACKED with fans standing in every nook and crevice possible. On top of this ample space, they have a ton of seated first-come-first-serve areas that are easy to grab if you get there early. We ended up grabbing a seat at a bar that had a great view of the game, better than any seats we could have afforded if we had been able to purchase them. I really wish more ballparks had this infrastructure built in. 

8. Philly Phanatic / Major

The Philly Phanatic is THAT GUY, and their new puppy-in-training, Major, is absolutely adorable. I am a real stickler for a good, engaging mascot, and the Phanatic delivered. His design is great, everyone was carrying plushies and donning merch, he can seriously zoom across the field on an ATV, and his razzing of Kutter Crawford during his and Strahm’s stand-off was hysterical. I think some Philly Phanatic gear may be in my future. 

9. They Know How to Have Fun

Depending on your preference, this next point could go either way, good or bad. This bunch of fans knows how to have FUN and PARTY. Before every game, you can find tailgates as far as the eyes can see in their plethora of parking options. When the game ends, well… you can STILL find tailgates as far as the eyes can see in their plethora of parking options! Cornhole, barbecues, cocktails, and beer— the whole nine yards. There’s clearly an unspoken rule of open-carry protection because many folks brought their beers into the lines with no problem. I even heard a woman in line behind me joke that they “probably wouldn’t care” if you “snuck liquor in your panties.” While this might be a stretch… it also might not be. The fans are tipsy (or way more), excited to be there, and have a lot of love for their team. The energy is contagious (unless you’re losing and people start heckling you, which did happen to us as Red Sox fans), and it added a lot to the unique Philly experience for me. 

10. The Current Team is Beloved and that’s Fun 

This team is FUN. They might not be very good right now, but they are undeniably fun and beloved. They took a great National League Championship-winning team and added Trea Turner. What more could a Phillies fan ask for? Every fan, big and small, young and old, cheered their hearts out and kept the faith. They’re willing to fight (literally, we almost witnessed a brawl) to defend their guys, and although it can be a bit much at times, I think it’s cool! It makes me happy when people really feel connected to their team. That’s how it should be. 

Have you ever visited Citizen Bank Park? Are you rooting for the Phillies this season? Do you disagree with anything on this list? Let’s talk!

By Taylor

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