I read through the stadium reviews and rankings sometimes. Coca Cola Park in Allentown sometimes gets low grades for a certain number of things–many of them out of everyone’s control. Sometimes, the marks are low for the neighborhood, or the view. Well, what are you going to do? But I see some parks get higher marks for their unique seating areas. No more. We’re well on our way, catching up. This year, the IronPigs will be introducing the “Pig Pen” seating area, on the field, in front of the bull pens. This follows the addition of the Red Robin Tiki Terrace and Oasis in 2012, and the Hot Corner and Bacon Strip in 2013.
78 seats will be added to the new section across two rows: The first row will be 46 comfortable, extra-wide chairs–perhaps similar to the hot corner. In the second row, 32 high-top, bar stool-like chairs. Both rows will contain nice wide counter tops as found in the Hot Corner seating area. These seats are available for purchase immediately for the upcoming season for groups of 20 or more. The price for groups will be $20/seat, with $5 loaded ticket value per. Single seats for this area will go on sale at the National Pig Day celebration at Coca Cola Park on Saturday, March 7, along with all of the other single game tickets. Purchased in advance, these seats are available for $18–$20 the day of the game, but does not include the loaded value as the group tickets do. Capacity at Coca Cola park will remain at 10,100–so we can presume that the new 78 seats will be subtracted from the general admission allowance. [Edit: Not so fast. That is what I was told, but another outlet has the new capacity for CCP now at 10,178.]
The section will also feature wait staff, ready to serve you “trough buckets” or “slop buckets” of pulled pork and bacon sandwiches and “pig tail” fries–an exclusive offering to this new location! We sampled the sandwiches and fries today at the press conference–outstanding, as always for Chef Jerry! The food will be served from the Oasis kitchen which also serves the Red Robin Oasis and the Hot Corner. Here I am checking one out:
Of course, I didn’t know there would be food served. There was no mention of bacon OR other food in the press invite. Only, “drinks will be served.” I changed my work schedule and worked through my normal lunch hour in order to attend the Press Conference. As I arrived, I was finishing my pretzel as I approached the elevator. And who should accompany me on my ride to the club level? None other than Team Owner Joe Finely and President-General Manager Kurt Landes. Both made fun of me for eating a pretzel on my way in–I know, no outside food and drink, right? But how was I supposed to know? Not even a whiff of bacon in the air! 🙂 But kudos, of course, to Chef Jerry, for sneaking the bacon into the sandwich. I broke with my diet to stay after and enjoy this:
The chairs for the press were all fenced (“penned”) off, and little mechanical pigs oinked around inside. Interns were around to keep the piggies moving and oinking. With no runway set up, we knew it wasn’t going to be a uniform fashion show again. The covered easels portended a construction project of some sort. Perhaps we’ll have to wait until next season for a new scoreboard….
Anyway, here’s President and General Manager Kurt Landes at the podium (camera credit: Cheryl Pursell):
I never guessed the presser would be about a new seating area–as I didn’t think we really had room for one without tearing apart the stadium. Well, they kind of are! The new area will shorten left field by 13 feet from 336 to 323. In addition, the fence height will drop from 9 feet high to 6 feet in the new configuration.
But what about baseball?
A move like this doesn’t come without consequences–and wasn’t made without the approval and blessing of the Phillies. Ruben Amaro and Joe Jordan from the Phillies signed off on it, and IronPigs manager Dave Brundage was consulted was well. There are still some concerns about sight lines for the relievers in the bull pen. Should the folks in the back row of the Pig Pen stand, it could obscure the view for the relievers sitting on plastic chairs. Some of these things are still being worked out in conjunction with the Phillies, we understand.
Thinking about last season, when Clete Thomas broke his ribs diving into that wall, and Leandro Castro gave up an inside the park HR, when he lost the ball in the netting, and Cam Perkins threw out a guy using the wrong ball–I wondered what effect those adventures had on the decision to make a change in Left Field. I asked “Voice of the IronPigs” Matt Provence:
Meanwhile, potential 2015 power bats from the right side are champing at the bit–a bit. I’m looking at you Tyler Henson, Russ Canzler, Chris Nelson, Maikel Franco, Cam Perkins, Aaron Altherr, Darin Mastroianni, Jeff Francoeur (?!?)
But what about the pitchers? Will this hurt the young hurlers at Coca Cola Park? We shall see, I guess. And the additional concern right now revolves around the bull pens, now behind the fans: Will the relief pitchers be able to see the game? Will we be able to see who’s warming up? Even with special-issue Noise Nation binoculars?
And one last thing about the new section: It was Cheryl’s idea, so I spoke with our friend Ryan from Service Electric about an extra broadcast camera in the area of the new, lower fence. She felt it would be an excellent source of dramatic video shots of players jumping over the wall to rob home runs on top of fans enjoying food and drink. Ryan agreed, but noted that he’ll have to see the finished section first. He also shared that Service Electric will be adding additional cameras to their broadcasts this season–already about the best AAA video in the country as we can attest from watching MiLB.TV.
Finally, other news about the 2015 season: A new concession item! Available in the club level and the Red Robin Oasis will be a 2-foot hot dog! The giant frankfurter will be available with a multitude of toppings, and if it sells well, perhaps it will be available on the concourse as well. However, Chef Jerry could not speak about the availability of “shrimp pizza.” Stay tuned.
See you at the park,
PS: Have you been to hockey yet? You wanna go? How about for half price? Stay tuned, and save the date for 1/29.