Left Field Lite: Minor League Travels Round Two

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Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium provides cheap eats and entertainment for the whole famiy. Photos by Tom Hagan, ’11

In the continuing travels of a father and son exploring the minor and independent league  stadiums  within an hour of Philadelphia,  this weekend’s decision brought me to Reading, PA, home of the Reading Phillies, the AA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Unlike Wilmington, Reading is well-known for it’s minor league team, proclaiming themselves “Baseballtown USA.” The team’s home, FirstEnergy Stadium, reflects this popularity by the quality of the stadium and field. Reading has a food court along the right field that is constructed to feel almost like a street in Old City: the walkways are made with cobblestone and brick, small food shops line the court, and at the end of the court is a children’s paradise: ring toss, inflatable slides, and even special pool seating in the right field corner. In these seats, parents and children can enjoy the game from the comfort of a pool.

In terms of the seats, the really isn’t a bad seat in the house. The most obstructed view was probably in the higher grandstands behind the dugouts (where I happened to be), but even then only a small slice of the outfield was out of view. The seats themselves, however, proved a little stiff, as they were more or less bleachers with backs and metal armrests. While they weren’t unbearable, they were most definitely not the most comfortable chairs in a stadium. At the same time however, it’s tough to complain when the highest ticket price was $11.

In terms of food and beverage, the Reading Phillies have quite a selection.  Aside from the food court, the R-Phils have a concourse beneath the seats around home plate and the dugout that easily reminds one of old Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia. The selection goes anywhere from hot dogs to nachos to cheesesteaks, to specialty burgers. Along the left field wall is a buffet area with picnic benches, and in the outfield is another food location with more picnic bench-style seating along the outfield wall. Food prices were relatively cheap, with hot dogs coming in at $1.75 and a large soda at just about $4, prices still quite a bit lower than you’ll find in Philly.

In terms of alcohol, the food court has a fairly large bar that offers a good selection of beer. Five dollars will get you a plastic cup of beer, but if you arrive early select beers are cheeper during a pre-game happy hour in the food court.

For entertainment, the R-Phils provide a wide range of events. Every Saturday night the mascot band plays in the food court, playing songs ranging from “Should I stay or should I go,” to “Takin’ Care of Business,” to “Texas Flood.” These mascots show up during the game as well, providing in game entertainment for the little ones. Along with the mascots is a vegetable race, similar to the famous sausage race at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Along with this, the famous “Crazy Hot dog Vendor” makes an appearance every game, running out on the field while tossing franks into the crowd.

The game itself was nothing to write home about, however. The Phillies played the Akron Aeros, an affiliate of the Indians. Lefty prospect Yohan Flande had a rought start, giving up seven runs before being pulled midway through the game. The R-Phils only scored once, meaning fans only had one chance to see in game fireworks, the traditional celebration every time the R-Phils score.

Despite the eventual 12-1 loss, it was all in all a good experience. Reading is about an hour’s drive from Philadelphia, but the savings at the ballpark make up for the extra 20 bucks of gas you’ll put in the tank.

-Tom Hagan ’11

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Filed under Philadelphia Pro Sports, Phillies, Summer Days

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