One of the prime reasons for going to Philadelphia was to go the see a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park.
Before we go on, let me say how displeased I am with naming rights to stadiums and arenas. It’s a shame there’s no longer a Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia or Oakdale Theater near me in Wallingford, CT. Maybe there is a benefit to me by having Citizens Bank or Chevy (in the case of the Oakdale Theater) kick in some cash… though I don’t see it.
I am tilting at windmills. It’s never going back.
My friend Peter picked us up at the hotel and it didn’t take long to drive to South Philly and the stadium. Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field and the Core State Arena (it’s hurting me to write this) are all located on the same tract of land that held the Vet, Franklin Field and the Spectrum (still there, but now with a corporate name preceding the word Spectrum).
Since this was my birthday trip, Helaine had arranged for my name and age to be flashed on the scoreboard with the other 11 year olds. We went and signed in. There was a charge, but I got a very nice Phillies hat.
The ballpark itself is a very nice place. Whereas the Vet was all concrete and steel with no thought of aesthetics, there’s lots of exposed brick and other warm touches now. And, Vet Stadium’s turf – possibly the worst playing surface in all of professional sports, has been replaced by beautiful real grass.
Beyond the outfield is a huge food court – Ashburn’s Alley. That’s where we headed first.
Steffie wanted to have a genuine Philly Cheesesteak, and Geno’s of South Philadelphia fame is represented. This is not ‘old school’ baseball food. It wasn’t soggy. It was hot. It was delicious. We found a place to sit and ate our lunch.
The game was scheduled for 3:15, so we headed down and took our seats. I was surprised that there had been no hassle when I brought my camera and two lenses in. The Phillies web site said it would be OK, but I had a sneaking suspicion there would be scrutiny over any camera with a removable lens.
These were probably the best baseball seats I’d ever had. We were behind the Phillies dugout, in the sun, 25 rows from the field. We were in foul ball territory. We were very close to the action.
The Phils were playing the San Diego Padres… and the Phils had gotten hot! The night before, Chase Utley ended the game with a walk off homer. Is there a more macho act?
For us, the game began slowly. It seemed like Robinson Tejeda, the Phillie starter wasn’t in control. I say ‘seemed’, because when you see the box score, you see a pitcher totally dominating the opposition. It’s funny how those two elements don’t always match up.
I took a lot of pictures at the game. Some might say I took too many pictures. Here’s my favorite, Bobby Abreu ducking out of the way of a Pedro Astascio fastball. Judging by the catcher’s glove, this pitch was traveling where it was aimed.
We stayed until the very last out, anticipated the worst when Real Cormier was called in, but getting a one inning gem instead. Billy Wagner picked up the save.
After a short stop back at the hotel, the four of us (Peter included) went out searching for dinner and the sights. We hit South Street first, but realizing that wasn’t the right spot for dinner, headed to Market Street and the Penn’s Landing area.
Again, we found Italian food. Again, it was very good. But we were very tired.
Our walk back to the hotel was uneventful, but left me uneasy. There were too many places which seemed sinister.
Tonight, I sent an email message to Mayor Street. It’s attached to the link at the bottom of this entry. Whether this kind of message makes any difference or not is beyond me, but I am always willing to write and make my opinions felt.
We finished up our stay Sunday with brunch on the Moshulu.
I once heard someone say you should never go out to dinner at a revolving restaurant. I think the same applies to converted sailing ships. The food was OK – nothing special. The ship was OK too… but just OK.
The interior of the ship was larger than I expected. I know that because of the schlep from our table to the buffet!
By 1:30 we were heading home. We headed north on I-95, over the Delaware via the Betsy Ross Bridge (A white elephant when it was built, I hope it’s more useful now), Route 90 to Route 73 to I-295 and then the New Jersey Turnpike.
We waited as long as we could before getting off I-295 and onto the Turnpike. It made no difference. We were stuck in stop-and-go traffic for the better part of an hour before things opened up. The rest of the trip was uneventful.
Oh – there was that sign on the George Washington Bridge that I captured. I’m hoping it’s legal to take photos before you get to the sign, as I did.
So, what have we learned? We were surprised and pleased that Steffie enjoyed the game. Yes, she got a shirt and excellent junk food… but she bought another shirt with her own money and seemed to be interested in the game.
We also enjoyed visiting Philadelphia, the place where we met 25 years ago, as tourists. There are rough edges that need to be smoothed for Philadelphia to become a better tourist destination, but so much is in place right now.
Dear Mayor Street,
My wife, daughter and I spent last weekend in Philadelphia. My wife is originally from the Northeast and I lived in Center City for five years. We now live in Connecticut.
I think we are the type of tourists you are trying to attract. We came, stayed and spent money. And, for the most part, we enjoyed Philadelphia.
However, there are specific problems I’d like to bring to your attention, because they lessened our enjoyment and would make us think twice before coming back to Penn’s Landing.
After dinner we walked along Market to Front Street and then crossed I-95 at Chestnut. There was no access to Columbus from that bridge, nor were there any signs to tell us the bridge was, in essence, a dead end. This should have been marked on the Front Street side.
We turned south to find another bridge over the highway. We entered and walked through a dimly lit park. There were many people sitting, milling around in this park (probably living there). Though no one threatened us personally, we were frightened and left the park as soon as we could. I understand the city is somewhat restrained in these situations, but the park should be lit. Pedestrians shouldn’t be worried about who is lurking in the shadows.
We took the next overpass to cross I-95. All of the lights on the north side of this bridge were out, as were all of the lights on the Delaware River side. As we left the bridge to walk to street level, we were in the dark. And, again, there were people milling around and no police presence.
Certainly we would have appreciated seeing more police. However, more working lights on the bridges and in the park would have also put us more at ease. The light fixtures are there – that money has been spent. Now someone needs to get them working.
To bring in more tourists, you have to be more tourist friendly. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for this premiere tourist attraction to be properly and safely lit.
Thanks for taking the time to read my letter.