Results tagged ‘ Old Shakey ’

On the Road: Capitol Improvements in Harrisburg

The sixth and final stop on my most recent road trip was Harrisburg’s Metro Bank Park, a facility that has been almost entirely remodeled over the past two seasons. The $45 million dollar renovation transformed the ballpark from this:

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 To this:

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On Saturday I was there as a mascot, an experience that will be detailed in a post and article later this week. The following afternoon, I had the chance to check things out sans body pod and vision-impairing fake head. Needless to say, it was an entirely different (and far more comfortable) perspective.

I arrived early and met gm Randy Whitaker for a pre-game tour of the facility. One of the first things we checked out were the suites that ring the top edge of the grandstand seating area.

The view from the front:

The view from behind amply showcases the Susquehanna River and Harrisburg skyline:

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And the view inside:

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In order to provide the best possible view from the suites, the outdoor press box was nudged to the right (“TV and radio are great, but they don’t pay the bills,” said Whitaker):

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And then there’s the Press Box Club. A $30 ticket includes a padded seat behind home plate and all-you-can-eat food in the bar and restaurant located directly behind the seating area.

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While $30 tickets are pricey by Minor League standards, the food is excellent. Sunday’s offerings included an omelet station, but I opted for breaded pork chops, string beans, and grits (!!!). It was some of the best food I’ve ever had in a Minor League ballpark (albeit not as memorable as a deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich) My photos of the food offerings at the Press Box Club were substandard, however, and deleted by third-party Ben’s Biz Blog quality control arbiters.

And speaking of “sub”standard, the ground-level concourse area is ringed with submarine-style sliding doors designed to protect the stadium from flooding (Metro Bank Park is located on City Island, surrounded on all sides by the Susquehanna, and flooding is a legitimate concern):

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That is one well-protected Women’s Restroom!

But it’s one thing to mention that the ballpark is located on an island, it’s another thing to show it. With an hour to go before game time, I went outside to explore the area outside of the stadium.

The Walnut St. Bridge is located directly outside of the ballpark, commemorated with this relentlessly self-deprecating historical plaque:

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Okay, we get it: it’s old, closed to automobiles, heavily damaged, and known by a derogatory nickname. It’s also a scenic way to get to and from the ballpark:

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And while cars have been banned, horses are still welcome:

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Upon arriving on the “mainland”, one can see the ballpark from a different perspective:

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I soon stumbled upon this statue, which houses a time capsule buried in conjunction with Harrisburg’s 1960 centennial celebration:


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Forgive this indulgence, but I was immensely charmed by the (poorly-maintained) plaque on the statue’s base. It read:

Greetings to Future Harrisburgers!

In a shaft, directly beneath this monument in a metal cylinder is contained a documented history of Harrisburg from its early beginnings along with evidence of the way of life of our time.

It is our fervent hope that you will bring them to light during 2060 prior to your bicentennial celebrations, sort them out and again inter some of them along with your own for evaluation of future generations.

May God Guide Your Endeavors!

If anyone would like to accompany me to Harrisburg’s bicentennial celebrations (I’ll be 81 and hopefully still kicking) then please send an email. I’m serious — it never hurts to plan ahead!

But anyway…I walked back to the ballpark across a far less pedestrian-friendly adjacent bridge, taking in the sight of yet more bridges:

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Back on the island, overlooking the (limited) parking area:

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Approaching the stadium, the atmosphere resembles an old-fashioned amusement park. There are train crossings, carriage rides, batting cages, and an arcade:

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I know what you’re all asking: Did the arcade have pinball?

Yes! Yes it did:

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The main entrance is situated down the left field line, providing almost immediate access to the brand-new boardwalk area. It is presided over by an inflatable local entrepreneur, and includes concessions, a team store, picnic areas, rail seating, the Bullseye Bar, and more:

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The team store register area recycles old ballpark bleachers:

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The Bullseye Bar (so named because if a batter hits the bar, everyone gets free beer) is located directly beneath the massive scoreboard (one of the biggest in the Minors):

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That picture was taken in the fifth inning, just after a power outage reset the scoreboard. It also caused some momentary deflation in the Kid’s Zone:

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Keep Your Friends Close:

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But your enemies closer:

Hburg<br />
_visitingpen.JPG” src=”http://mlblogsbensbiz.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/hburg_visitingpen-thumb-450×337-22576812.jpg” class=”mt-image-none” width=”450″ height=”337″ /></a></span></p>
<p>The Spot, a Harrisburg fast food institution, has a stand in the area underneath the third base bleachers: </p>
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Views, views, and more views:

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The bleachers down the third base line were spared in the renovations, and therefore serve as a reverberating metal link to the past:

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Dugout Suites, Dugout Dancing:

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C Battery wins a controversial recycling-themed mascot race:

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But there was nothing controversial about the Sens’ decisive 13-4 victory:

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All that was left for me to do was watch the kids run the bases in the enervating heat:

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And then, finally, I was able to return to New York City’s comforting embrace.

The Pennsylvania Road Trip is done, but there is more to come: Look for a Mascot Camp, Pt. II article and blog on Friday. Until then, I’ll be trying to resurrect what little (if anything) remains of my social life.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

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