Over this past weekend, we headed into Reading, Pennsylvania to check out the R-Phils and some fireworks. We wanted to get to a minor-league park for a fireworks display, but any nearby new ones didn’t have anything going on. I loved Reading’s stadium, so that seemed like a good option. The Kutztown Folk Festival was in our plans too, but it was so freakin hot we just went to the game. Parking still really sucks at FirstEnergy Stadium as there’s pretty much no room and little direction. We just kept driving, following the masses, luckily finding an empty lot where a lot of people were starting to fill it up. Getting out when your far from the stadium was not pleasant with the masses exiting the fireworks show as it took a half-hour to get moving well on the two-lane Rt. 61. Food is my only other complaint as the burger I had looked like a flattened piece of putty, with cheese that was like liquid.
Didn’t mean to get sidetracked with complaining as I really enjoy this ballpark as it is so different than the other common minor league experiences. I still am amazed at what they have done with this park, it’s like they’ve turned this place into a festival with how much outdoor/concourse festivities go on. Despite the cramped concourse, I don’t mind when there is so much life to it. With all of these distractions the focus is still on the game. Reading continues to lead the league in attendance and the game atmosphere is tremendous. I also think that it is key to have affiliations partnered by region. I saw so many Reading and Philadelphia jerseys. Just look at the success even on the Double A level that nearby affiliations have seen: Portland-Boston, Trenton-New York, Reading-Philadelphia (all in the Top 4 in Eastern League attendance), Texas-Frisco (#1 in the Texas League), Florida-Jacksonville (#1 as well in the Southern League). Even though a lot of the ballpark is kind of pieced together through the years, the main seating bowl from the 1950s is refreshing to sit in. There probably is no minor league park in the country even close to FirstEnergy in terms of what’s inside…and it’s certainly a great place to watch game.
For those interested, the R-Phils took down the first place Altoona Curve, 6-4. Four runs in the early innings for Reading held up. Also, the fireworks display at the end of the game was awesome and probably better than any local shows as I’m sure they cheapened some of them in NJ thanks to all of those budget cuts.