You’re going to notice a lot of new things at the old ball park next month.
The 800-lb gorilla is the new video board. It’s the largest HD-aspect LED board in all of the minor leagues, and the brightness and resolution match the new screen in Philadelphia. You won’t miss it–in fact, you’ll probably see it before you even enter the stadium as it’s quite visible from the Parkway Bridge to Joe’s Corner and all points in between!
An underrated aspect of this much-needed and often-requested upgrade is that there will be new, smaller boards added and upgraded above the billboards in left field, on the “pich speed” and “time and temp” stands, along the club level fascia on first base and third base, as well as behind the plate. You’ll notice better brightness and resolution in those locations as well.
Finally, you’ll notice that everything seems to work better. That’s because all the “back-end” electronics controlling all of the LED displays have been upgraded–and they’ll all work together from time to time to celebrate home runs, strike-outs and other happenings. Coca Cola Park has always had a bit more “big league” feel than other minor league parks–expect an enhancement to that feeling starting on Tuesday April 4 when Reading drops by for the annual “222 Showcase” game.
The next thing you might notice is the totally re-done pic-nic patio. Gone are the picnic tables, and in their place will be double rows of seating all facing the field. The first row will be mesh chairs, while the second row will be bar-height chairs. Both rows will have generous space to place your food and drink, similar to what you get in the “hot corner” and “pig pen.” Because the seats aren’t divided into tables, and they all now face the field, this should allow for different sized groups to make use of this seating option, which includes an all-you-can-eat buffet. Season ticket
holders members will get to try it out in April with a free preview included with your package–available now for pick-up. As per usual, this area will often be occupied by groups, but single seats are available to select games. Below is a list of games for which you can purchase single-seats or multiples of your choosing. Supplies and dates are limited–but I’d imagine that more will become available as the season rolls on.
- Sunday, April 9 at 1:35 p.m. vs. Pawtucket
- Saturday, April 22 at 6:35 p.m. vs. Toledo
- Sunday, April 23 at 1:35 p.m. vs. Toledo
- Thursday, May 11 at 7:05 p.m. vs. Buffalo
- Tuesday, May 23 at 7:05 p.m. vs. Indianapolis
- Thursday, May 25 at 7:05 p.m. vs. Indianapolis
- Saturday, May 27 at 6:35 p.m. vs. Louisville
- Sunday, May 28 at 1:35 p.m. vs. Louisville
Each ticket includes a game ticket and the following:
- Two and a half hour all-you-can-eat buffet featuring a ballpark-style menu.
- Unlimited soft drinks through the middle of the 8th inning.
- Adult beverages available for purchase.
I’m sure there will be other goodies on tap for us–but we’ll have to wait to hear more. Two things, however, might not be quite so evident:
First, major infrastructure improvements have been ongoing this off-season, as the concrete seating bowl is being repaired in certain areas–an ongoing process which will take place over the next two years and for which Lehigh County has set aside $592,000.
Second–and most interesting to me–is the replacement of the playing surface. Sure, there were little spots here and there on the 9-season-old turf, but it always looked in good condition to my eye. But the Horn and Bell Blog has learned, from a high-ranking official close to the team, that the surface was completely replaced at the behest of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Over the course of the past 9 seasons of baseball–and other shenanigans like food trucks and Willie Nelson–the surface had become a bit “soft” for the Phillies liking. And, perhaps, wasn’t playing as “true” as it once did. The softness of the field caused it to play a bit differently than the rock-hard surface at Citizen’s Bank Park, so the Phillies requested that the IronPigs put in an all-new surface. One of the other benefits of the new, quicker surface is that the new laser-grading and increased firmness will help the field drain better than it has in recent years.
Hey, this isn’t Scranton. We don’t want to be missing any games because of a wet field! But joking aside, I think the quantity and quality of top-prospects due to play in East Allentown has the Phillies on high alert to make sure every aspect of the AAA experience is appropriate to prepare those young men for the big leagues.
See you at the park,
PS: Also I’ve heard tell of a 3-lb hamburger which will appear only on the club-bar menu. Stay tuned for details!