PPL Center: Arena Review, Eagles Concert–and a Tom Petty Preview

“How ‘ya doin’?”

Well I’m doing just fine.  And, I’m really liking the new downtown arena in Allentown.  We had a great time at the Eagles concert Friday night, and we were back on Saturday afternoon to get a look around without the crowds.

My first impression of the PPL Center is that it’s really “finished.”  Except, it’s not.  There’s still work to be done in advance of the first hockey game (a preseason tilt October 1) and Phantoms opening night Friday, October 17, 2014.  But by “finished” I mean to say that the place is really gorgeous.  In many an arena, exposed cinder blocks and rough-hewn concrete adorn the walls and floors respectively.  Then, look up and it’s all exposed HVAC and girders.  Not so in Allentown.  The floors are neatly polished in the main concourse, and carpeted in the luxury areas.  The walls are nicely painted and even wainscoting-adorn in some places.  The pipes and wires are neatly tucked into the ceiling and painted black.  It’s just, really, nice.

The traffic was minimal, and the parking no problem–at least for me.  I was a bit early, though.  I did hear of difficulty at the intersection of Linden and 7th Street.  The Parking Authority is aware of it, though, and will be addressing it through several methods.  In the meantime, avoid that intersection if you can.

Even without the restaurants (Chickie’s, Horton’s, Crust) in the arena, there are still many concession choices within.  I’ll detail them as we get going with the hockey season.  They aren’t cheap, though.

I’ll try to get my photos uploaded soon, but for now…

Here are some other random observations, good and bad:

  • Floor Chairs are Small:   I’m not a big dude, but the nicely cushioned chairs on the arena floor for concerts are really tiny.  And, close together.  In fact, they seem to snap or slide together tongue-in-groove style.  Perhaps this is standard for concerts these days, but I wasn’t planning on sitting that close to the big guy next to me.
  • Need More Urinals:   It was the longest line for a men’s room I’d ever seen.  I spent the entire 20-minute intermission plus the first two songs of the second set standing in line.  My advice: take out some of the commodes and install more urinals.
  • It Does Get Crowded:   It was the first opening, and a big one to boot (10,000 is max; only 8,500 for hockey) and of course no one knew where to go.  So, the concourses were absolutely jammed.  That’ll calm down, I imagine, as folks learn where they want to be.  They’ll get things running quicker at the concessions as well.  Think about opening day at the IronPigs:  After all these years, folks still pack the concourses on opening day for ballpark food and sightseeing.  That’ll calm down.
  • The Center Scoreboard Fully Retracts:   It’s a nice touch.  That hockey-style center board (x4) fully retracts into the ceiling.  Another nice clean look, fully preserving the site lines.
  • Luxury Boxes Rock:   The luxury boxes on levels “3” and “4” offer superb site lines and many comforts.  If you ever get invited to one, jump at it.  The views were really good, if you ask me.
  • And, More:   There are “ice-level” luxury boxes under the stands on the suite side.  They have all the amenities, huge flat-screens, and access to the seats in the club sections.  A really cool idea.
  • Not Done Yet:  Another amazing luxury touch is the “Loge” boxes at the top of the club sections.  Think of them as mini-suites with big leather chairs and marble-like counters.  Another place to visit if you can swing the invite.
  • Finally:  An ice-level party suite sponsored by BSI allows groups to greet the players as they make their way to the ice.  Suite visitors here can then sit glass-side for the game.
  • Cool Areas For the Common Man (and Woman):   The “Miller Lite Loft” above the “closed” (non-stage) end of the arena is a nice place to visit.  Nice high-up end view of the ice, and a bar up there to boot.
  • Micro-Brews Up Top:  I don’t know what it’s called, but there’s a place above the gourmet hamburger stand which has a micro-brew bar and some tables to hang out above the main concourse.  It’s a neat area to get out of the crowd and relax.  It’s mostly a concourse view, though, not so much for the game.
  • I’ll Be At The Bar:   There’s a rectangular bar area right near my hockey seats.  I swear I didn’t know it would be there.  Well, you’ll know where to find me before the games…near section 107.
  • Get Me A Beer:  There are many, many beer choices.  I’ll detail them later, but you’ll find something you like.  There are a ton at Coca Cola Park, too, with some notables missing.  Here, nothing’s missing:  Miller Lite, Yuengling, Coors Light, Micros, Shock Top.  Drafts.  Big giant cans.  All kinds of cool choices.  Not cheap though:  Miller Lite draft cost me $8.  25-oz Bud Light can cost me $9.  Wine and mixed drinks are of course available in the club, but there was a small bar set up on the concourse near section 104 as well.
  • Make Your Calls Before You Go:   The cell signal inside is very, very weak.  There’s talk of boosting it.

Tips if you’re going to the Tom Petty Concert Tonight:

Parking:

Map Courtesy Allentown Parking Authority

Map Courtesy Allentown Parking Authority

Remember the directionality of the streets, and make a plan.  Check AllentownEventParking.com and click on the available lots and decks to check parking availability.  Follow the color-coded signs downtown.

What NOT to do:

  • Be Late.  A little extra time is helpful.
  • Drive Around.  I say find a spot and park.  Walk or hitch a ride with LANTA shuttles.
  • Take Seventh Street.  Or, Linden.  Seventh and Linden was the bottle neck, if you can avoid it, do.
  • Park AT the Arena.  There’s a parking garage “in” the arena.  It’s small, though, and mostly reserved spots for VIPs, Suite holders, and the like.  It will be filled.  Don’t even try to park there.

So enjoy the show.  Word from the tour is that it is excellent.  They’re known to mix it up a bit, but here’s a recent set list:

Steve Winwood:

  1. (Buddy Miles cover)
  2. (Traffic song)
  3. (Traffic song)
  4. (Traffic song)
  5. (Blind Faith song)
  6. (Traffic song)
  7. Encore:
  8. (Blind Faith song) (with Tom Petty)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers:

  1. (The Byrds cover)
  2. (Tom Petty song)
  3. (Tom Petty song)
  4. (Blind Faith cover) (with Steve Winwood)
  5. (Tom Petty song)
  6. (Tom Petty song)
  7. Encore:
  8. (Tom Petty song)


Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Phantoms Hockey

Tags: , , , ,

2 replies

  1. A rather in-your-face article from Bill White in The Morning Call today … Yes, the same NIZ Cheerleader Bill White who once acknowledged in a previous article that he might not be so excited about the $ 177.1 million dollar Pawlowski Palace of Sport “if he lived in, say, Altoona”.

    Nine dollars for a Bud Light? — Ich finde dass sich sehr lacherlich macht! On the other hand, if everyone else is thrilled, then more power to them. No kidding.

    Bill White should really hold off on declaring a bona fide economic miracle for the City Without (Spending?) Limits just yet. Let’s see what happens after the Palace of Sport’s novelty has worn off in two or three years’ time and Pawlowski has long since moved on to greener pastures in Harrisburg. Let’s see what happens in a few years’ time in the middle of December / January — on the nights when it is snowing considerably.

    Bill White should also research the history of the attendance record for the AHL’s Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Penquins sometime … he just might find the sharp decline fascinating.

  2. Es gibt keine Meldung hier, das historisches Eishockeyspiel beim Sportpalast auf Hamilton Strasse zwischen Philadelphia Flyers und Lehigh Valley Phantoms zu ansagen?

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