Citizens Bank Park is part of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, and home of the Philadelphia Phillies. Citizens Bank Park opened on April 3, 2004 and hosted its first regular season baseball game on April 12 of the same year, with the Phillies losing to the Cincinnati Reds, 4–1. The ballpark was built to replace the now-demolished Veterans Stadium (a football/baseball multipurpose facility), and features natural grass and dirt playing field and also features a number of Philadelphia-style food stands, including several which serve cheesesteaks, hoagies, and other regional specialties. The ballpark lies on the northeast corner of the Sports Complex, which includes Lincoln Financial Field and the Wachovia Center.
In 1998, the Phillies and the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League joined their Western Pennsylvania counterparts, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Steelers in making requests to replace both Veterans Stadium and Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh with separate stadiums. Pressure for new Philadelphia stadiums increased after a railing collapsed at The Vet during the Army–Navy Game, injuring eight cadets. The Pirates threatened to leave Pittsburgh in 1997, which helped convince the legislature to approve funding for the four proposed stadiums. While Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh approved the pacts swiftly, due to plans already being in place at the time of legislative approval, debate within Philadelphia's city leadership carried on as Pittsburgh opened their stadiums (PNC Park for the Pirates and Heinz Field for the Steelers) in 2001. The Eagles agreed to a site slightly southeast of Veterans Stadium, which would become Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles' stadium was built on the site of an old food warehouse and celebrated its grand opening in August 2003.
The Phillies originally wanted a downtown ballpark similar to Baltimore, Denver, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit and San Francisco. Various locations were proposed, initially at Broad and Spring Garden streets, Spring Garden and Delaware Avenue and next to 30th Street Station, where the main post office is located. The team and the city announced that the site would be at 13th and Vine streets, just north of Interstate 676, within walking distance of the Center City downtown district. There was considerable support for a downtown ball park from business and labor and the city at large, but residents of the city's Chinatown section protested. The City and team eventually settled on building at the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, on the site of an old food warehouse much like Lincoln Financial Field. In the years that followed, residents, fans and owner Bill Giles expressed regret that the new ball park was not located in Center City. Regardless of location, the team set records in 2009 for attendance (3,600,649 fans) and sellouts (73, including 42 straight at the end of the season).
The unveiling of the park and ground breaking ceremonies were on June 28, 2001. Following the game that evening, the location of the left-field foul pole was unveiled at the outset of the team's annual 4th of July fireworks display. On June 17, 2003 Citizens Bank agreed with the team to a 25-year, US $95 million deal for naming rights and advertising on telecasts, radio broadcasts, publications and inside the facility. The ballpark was officially topped off on August 12, 2003, and opened in April 2004.
Shortly after the park opened in 2004, the bullpens were reassigned so the Phillies' pitchers used the lower pen and visitors use the upper pen. This was done to give Phillies' pitchers a better view of the game and to protect them from heckling by rowdy fans.
In its first years, Citizens Bank Park allowed 218 home runs in 2004 and 201 in 2005. More than half of those home runs were to left-field. Following the 2005 season, the left-field wall was moved back 5 feet (1.5 m).
Even with these modifications, the park has a reputation as one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball. In 2009, it gave up 149 home runs, the most in the National League and second in the majors behind only the new Yankee Stadium.
Features: Ashburn Alley
Behind center field is Ashburn Alley, named after Phillies Hall of Fame center fielder Richie Ashburn, who played for the team from 1948 to 1959 and was a Phillies broadcaster from 1963 to 1997. It is seen by Phillies fans as a compromise between the Phillies and their fans, many of whom wanted Citizens Bank Park named in honor of Ashburn.
Ashburn Alley is named for the slightly-overgrown grass which bordered the third base line at Shibe Park where Ashburn was famous for laying down bunts that stayed fair. The new Ashburn Alley, located near Ashburn's defensive position, is a walkway featuring restaurants, games and memorabilia from Phillies history. Ashburn Alley also features a memorabilia shop and a large bronze statue of Ashburn directly behind center field, as well as the U.S. flag, the flags of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia, a POW/MIA flag and the flags from the Phillies' championships
This area opens two-and-a-half hours before the scheduled first pitch, similar to Eutaw Street at Oriole Park at Camden Yards via the Left Field Gate, with two exceptions: Opening Day, when all gates open three hours before the scheduled first pitch and on the team's annual Photo Day, when all gates open two-and-a-half hours before the scheduled first pitch to allow fans with cameras onto the warning track to take pictures (or videos) of the team's players.
Features of the Alley are:
Bull's BBQ in Ashburn Alley and The Schmitter
* All-Star Walk — Granite markers pay tribute to Phillies players that have played in the MLB All-Star Game since its inception in 1933 and runs the length of Ashburn Alley.
* Bull's BBQ — Located at the eastern end of the Alley, it is named in honor of and owned in part by former Phillies outfielder Greg "The Bull" Luzinski. This southern-style barbecue features ribs, turkey legs along with pork, beef and chicken sandwiches and "Bulldogs" (kielbasa).
* Seasons Pizza - A new pizza franchise in CBP that took over for Peace A Pizza starting in the 2008 season.
* Planet Hoagie - Local franchise that makes hoagies, including one named after a Phillies player each series. * Campo's — Philadelphia cheesesteaks, replaced Rick's Steaks in 2009. The original Campo's opened in 1947.
* Tony Luke's — Tony Luke's famous cheesesteaks and roast pork.
* Games of Baseball — Sponsored by Citizens Bank, this interactive area features a giant baseball-themed pinball machine, a run-the-bases game with the Phillie Phanatic, and a "Pitch 'Em and Tip 'Em" game where you can throw at moving targets of a catcher. Players earn coupons and exchange them for prizes at a kiosk such as hats, shirts and other ballpark-imprinted memorabilia.
* Harry The K's Bar and Grille — Named for late Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, the bi-level bar and grill is built into the base of the scoreboard, and serves finger foods and sandwiches, including "The Schmitter".
* Memory Lane and Phillies Wall of Fame — A history of baseball in Philadelphia is located behind the brick batting eye in center field, while the opposite wall commemorates members of the franchise who contributed to the franchise's history. It was in this area where Ryan Howard hit two of the park's longest home runs, on April 23, 2006 against the Marlins off Sergio Mitre, and against Aaron Harang of the Reds on June 27, 2007, as well as second baseman Chase Utley's homer into this area against the Astros on April 23, 2007 clearing the center wall and becoming the second player to reach the Memory Lane area one year after Howard's feat.
* Exposed Bullpens — Located in right-center field, the bi-level bullpens allow the fans to get very close to the players (especially the visiting team, who sit in the top level). Fans are allowed to heckle but must keep it clean. The section above the bullpen that contains the Phillies Wall of Fame is closed to the public about 30 minutes prior to first pitch and remains closed throughout the game, re-opening at the game's conclusion.
* Rooftop Bleachers — Inspired by the 1920s and 1930s stands on North 20th Street outside Shibe Park, this area replicates the seating similar to that outside Wrigley Field in Chicago. During the 2008 season, fans could go on top for $15 on Thursday home dates and get special food offers and events.
* Starting Lineup — The Phillies starting lineup that day is illustrated by giant ten foot tall by five foot wide baseball cards as fans enter the left field gate.
In 2004 and 2005, organist Paul Richardson performed from Ashburn Alley, as Citizens Bank Park was built without an organ booth.
The food at CBP was named as Best Ballpark Food in a survey of Food Network viewers in the first annual Food Network Awards which first aired on April 22, 2007. On August 14, it was announced that Citizens Bank Park was voted #1 by PETA as America's most vegetarian-friendly ballpark, which was repeated in 2008 and again in 2009.
* Build-A-Bear Workshop Make-Your-Own-Phanatic — The first store of its kind in sports, fans are invited to buy and stuff a Phillie Phanatic doll and dress it up. Similar shops have since been set up in Cleveland's Progressive Field, Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, AT&T Park in San Francisco, Busch Stadium in St. Louis and Nationals Park in Washington, DC.
* Diamond and Hall of Fame Clubs — Two premium seating areas in the park. The Diamond Club, located behind home plate, includes an air-conditioned indoor club area with exclusive food and souvenir shops where ticket holders can watch batting practice on either side of the club (especially on rainy days). A second level, called the Hall of Fame Club, is located between Sections 212 through 232. This air-conditioned area features exclusive food and souvenir stands akin to The Diamond Club, and also houses memorabilia from the teams' past going as far back as the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1900s. In addition to being an attraction to fans, the Hall of Fame level also houses the A/V crew on the first-base side of that level that controls the scoreboard and all other monitors throughout the park, as well as the press box, television, and radio booths.
* High and Inside Pub — Located on the Terrace Level behind home plate, the area is open to groups before the ballgame, and the public once the games start. * Liberty Bell Home Run Celebration — Standing 102 feet (31 m) above street level, this 52-foot (15.8 m) by 35-foot (10.7 m) wide mechanical, lighted replica of the Liberty Bell "rings" and lights up after every Phillies home run and victory.
* Majestic Clubhouse Store and Alley Store — The clubhouse store is open year-round, and serves as the starting point for tours of the ballpark. The bi-level store features regular merchandise on the first level and Phanatic-themed items on the second level, while the Alley Store is open during all home games and features customizable Phillies jerseys. During the off-season, the customizable jerseys are available in the main store as are customizable Louisville Slugger bats. * McFadden's Bar and Grille — Open year-round, this restaurant combines the McFadden's and Zanzibar Blue menus at the Third Base Gate. Since its opening, it has become a popular post-game (or event) site for the nearby Wachovia Complex and Lincoln Financial Field. * Phanatic Phun Zone — Located at the First Base Gate plaza, this playground offers fun for guests eight years old and younger with slides, climb, explore and play games. A separate area for toddlers three years old and younger is found inside. * Phanatic Giant Shoe Slide — Located on the Terrace Level near home plate, kids can slide in and out of a replica of one of the Phanatic's sneakers.
Besides the Richie Ashburn statue in Ashburn Alley, statues of three other famous Phillies — Robin Roberts (at the First Base Gate) Mike Schmidt (at the Third Base Gate) and Steve Carlton (at the Left Field Gate) — ring the outside of the facility. Each of the ten-foot high statues were made by local sculptor Zenos Frudakis.
Other art found throughout the park includes tile mosaics, murals and terazzo floors with outlined images of famous players in Phillies history.
The Philadelphia Phillies are the first Major League Baseball team to join the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership Program which motivates organizations across the world to purchase green power in order to minimize environmental impact. The Phillies announced on April 30, 2008 that their home field, Citizens Bank Park, will be powered with 20 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green energy purchased in Green-e Energy Certified Renewable Certificates (RECs). The EPA stated that this purchase holds the record in professional sports for the largest purchase of 100% renewable energy. The Phillies are among the top three purchasers of green power in Philadelphia, and the executive director of the Center for Resource Solutions, Arthur O'Donnell, wants "other clubs to take their lead." Aramark Corporation is the Phillies' food and beverage provider at Citizens Bank Park and they are taking major actions in improving the environmental impact of the Phillies' stadium. Glass, cardboard, and plastics used during game day are recycled; frying oil is being recycled to produce bio-diesel fuel, and biodegradable, recyclable, and compostable products, serviceware, and plastics have been introduced.
The first concert at the park was Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band on August 25, 2005; they returned on June 14, 2008. Bon Jovi, and The Police subsequently played concerts in the ballpark. Billy Joel and Elton John performed together on July 30 and August 1, 2009.
Other stadium information
Due to the City of Philadelphia's Smoking Ban, smoking is only permitted at the first base gate, the third base gate and the left field gate.
Dan Baker, public address announcer for the Phillies since 1972, continues to introduce the players. During each player's first at-bat, Baker, in an excited voice, says, "Now batting for the Phillies, number (#), (position), (player's name)".
For example, a first at-bat introduction would have Baker say, "Now batting for the Phillies, number eight, center fielder Shane Victorino!" During subsequent at-bats, players are only announced by their position and name, for example, "Phillies first baseman, Ryan Howard!"
Baker only uses the city of the opposing team when he announces their players rather than the team nickname, for example, "Now batting for Atlanta, number ten, third baseman Chipper Jones", and makes the announcement in a more-subdued tone.