Follow me-@chuckbooth3024 on twitter
Follow my streak all the through to the bitter end. Schedule is this link:
Douglas “Chuck” Booth- (Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- Today’s expert is Kurt Smith. Kurt will be the interview subject of the following parks: Tropicana Field, Turner Field and today’s featured expert Article of Citizens Bank Ball Park. Kurt is highly respected in the ball park chaser community for his BallparkEGuides. After you are done reading this article I implore you trust in Kurt to deliver up tips and suggestive idea’s on how to make your stadium visits affordable and pleasurable. I had a chance to ask some questions of the man recently.
DB: “Welcome to the MLB Reports Experts Interview Kurt. Please tell us about yourself and then give us a bit of background information on your life as a Phillies Fan?”
“KS: For most of my life I have lived in South Jersey, which is unquestionably Philly sports country, and currently I live about a 20-minute drive from Citizens Bank Park. I grew up an Orioles fan, though, and while going to games at Veterans Stadium was fun, as a kid I absolutely lived for the two or three trips the family made to Memorial Stadium every year to see our Birds. It was much more fun being an O’s fan back then and Memorial was a great ballpark. I still miss it. But in recent years it’s been great to see the Phillies rack up division titles and a World Series championship, especially in a city that hadn’t seen a championship in 26 years. Citizens Bank Park is such a great improvement over the Vet and the Phillies and their tremendous pitching staff have become a great team to watch. I wouldn’t say I’m a Phillies fan yet, but when my daughter is old enough to go to games there she may change my mind!”
DB: “Describe the whole idea behind your website www.ballparkeguides.com?
KS: “Many baseball fans, myself included, go to ballgames and maybe don’t get a good seat, or pay too much for tickets and parking, or they aren’t aware of some of the great food items at the ballpark. The Ballpark E-Guides website gives a few pointers on seating, getting there and food, and tells you which games on the team’s schedule are likely to be low demand. And if people like what they read, I’ve thoroughly researched 14 major league ballparks to create the actual E-Guides. For $5 you can download a PDF-format illustrated guide to any of 14 major league ballparks, and I like to think you’ll easily get much more than your money’s worth with the information contained in them, from getting tickets, to seating, to getting there and all of the food items. I couldn’t believe how much I was missing out on doing the research for them!”
DB: “Citizens Bank Park has been over 102% for the last several years, tell people what they should expect about buying tickets in Philadelphia?”
KS: “Philadelphia is a city that is so weary of the Eagles underachieving in grand fashion every year that they will embrace a winning team religiously, and so every Phillies game sells out. The Phillies don’t offer a lot in the way of deals or discounts…most northeastern teams don’t, for some reason…so going through StubHub or another third party works probably just as well. Whatever tricks you have will be helpful…probably the easiest games to get a deal on would be games against West Coast opponents, and if you go on StubHub on a really hot, muggy day you could possibly land a pretty good deal. There aren’t many bad seats at the Bank, but certain ones do have advantages; for example, seats down the third base line are closer to McFadden’s which is better for adults looking for a post-game hangout, and seats down the first base line are closer to all of the kid-friendly areas. The upper level seats can be way up there, so if you have a vertigo problem you may want to avoid them. But the view of everything from up there is tops.
KS: “Well I haven’t seen the ranking that you mentioned and the basis for it, so I can’t really speak to that. As far as accessibility in ballparks, so many of the newer ones have really gone the extra mile with it…Comerica Park in Detroit is a good example…so my guess is that if Citizens Bank Park doesn’t rank high in that area, it may just be because the competition is actually pretty strong. I can’t think of any accessibility problems, even the Phillies Hall of Fame has a ramp to access it. As far as the staff, I think they’re great, I’ve never had a problem with any of the ushers…and I can tell you that I couldn’t say that about when the team played at Veterans Stadium. Teams everywhere have really improved their customer service, and the Phillies are a great example. They’ve been very good about everything in my experience.”
DB: “I did a survey about 3 years ago when Citizens Bank Park had the best voted singular food item with a Cheesesteak at Tony Luke’s, what are your thoughts on this?”
KS: “Well the Tony Luke’s cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz is pretty good, especially considering that local items in a ballpark don’t often live up to the original location. It’s great for people who are only going to a ballgame in Philly and want to see what this cheesesteak business is all about. But as far as the best food item in any ballpark, I wouldn’t rank it that high. I don’t even consider it the best food item at Citizens Bank Park…Chickie’s and Pete’s fries, the Campo’s Heater sandwich, the Schmitter and Bull’s BBQ Bulldog are all better in my opinion. But that’s just my opinion.”
DB: “What is your favorite method of transportation to and from Citizens Bank Park?”
KS: “It depends on whether I’m going by myself or with a group of people. There’s really only two common ways to get there—you can drive your car and park or take the SEPTA Broad Street Line subway to the AT&T Sports Complex Station. From nearby PA suburbs you can use SEPTA’s Regional Rail to the subway. Both methods are fine and work equally well, but coming from South Jersey by myself I would rather pay about $8 round trip to take the PATCO high speed line and then the Broad Street Line than pay $15 for the parking and $5 to cross the bridge, not to mention the gas and traffic getting out afterwards. If you’re going with three or four people though, driving and parking is fine. There’s plenty of parking in the complex and you can persuade everyone to chip in. You can save $5 on parking if you’re willing to walk a bit.”
DB: “What advice would you give for somebody experiencing Citizens Bank Park for the very first time?”
KS: “Get there as early as possible, for a couple of reasons. First, traffic is much easier to deal with if you’re driving, and second, you’ll want to check out Ashburn Alley before the park starts to fill up, because it gets very congested and stays crowded throughout the game. The Ashburn Alley gates open an hour before the rest of the ballpark does, and you’re definitely going to want to check out everything there. The Philadelphia baseball timeline is great, and the Phillies Hall brings back great memories for fans. Lots of interactive games for kids too. There’s a lot going on at the ballpark and a lot of things to see, but honestly, you can focus on the Phillie Phanatic all night and never stop being entertained. There is no mascot in sports so willing to cross the line of acceptable mascot behavior. And don’t worry about Philly fans. They’re not as bad as everyone says. There are some jerks but most of them are perfectly nice people.”
DB: “Other than cheesesteaks at Tony Luke’s, how is the food at CBP? What is your favorite ballpark food there?”
KS: “The food as Citizens Bank Park is all great; I’ve never gone wrong with anything I’ve tried. Bull’s BBQ may make the best turkey sandwich I’ve had at a ballgame, and I don’t require much persuasion to share a bucket of Chickie’s and Pete’s crab fries. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about the chili at Harry The K’s as well. I could go on all day. My favorite food item is the underrated Schmitter, which was actually not named after Mike Schmidt. The Schmitter is a sandwich from a local tavern called McNally’s. It’s sort of a cousin to the cheesesteak, with meat, cheese, salami, tomatoes and secret sauce on a Kaiser roll. It’s a little hard to find the Schmitter stand…it’s tucked underneath the stands near the Left Field Gate. Well worth the search though. There’s just something about tomatoes and thousand island style sauce on a steak sandwich.”
DB: “What is your favorite all time game that you have been in attendance for at Citizens Bank Park?”
KS: “Wow…I have to think about that one. You know, I’m going to go out on a limb here and actually pick a hockey game, the minor league game between the Adirondack Phantoms and the Hershey Bears, which took place after the recent Winter Classic. My sister and I lucked into tickets and braved the cold for the game; and it was really cool seeing the ballpark set up for ice hockey. The Phantoms tied the score with just 20 seconds left in the game, and then won it in overtime. One of the most exciting hockey games I’ve ever seen. The crowd just went ballistic, and it was great to hear 45,000 Philly throats going nuts. So okay, not a baseball game, but I have to say that was the best time I’ve had there.”
DB: “Thank you very much Kurt.”
***Thank you to our Citizens Bank Ball Park Expert- Kurt Smith for participating in today’s article. to learn more about Kurt Smith and his website click here***