The second go-round at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown went well last night and yeah, I do agree the ballpark is better than I initially thought it was. I still hate that, small, unassuming exterior, which makes it seems like your entering a two-level shopping center. But inside, the concourses and food make this a place to “hang-out”. Not sure if that’s good or bad, but it brings people in. Allentown does not really have any stand-out local cuisine, so I like how the team went with the “Pig” theme. Items like the Porker Sandwich (a delicious pulled pork), Nachos Porker and Three Little Pigs (pulled pork, fried ham and bacon on a kaiser role) is a great idea. Still love that corn on the cob that is widely available, “Aw-Shucks” style with butter, seasoning and Parmesan. Just makes it feel like summer. Philly-style stuff like twisted pretzels, cheese steaks and fries are also a great touch. You definitely could eat your way through this ballpark and it would take a month.
I warmed up to the seating design too as the intimacy is nice and it feels a lot more personable for a Triple A ballpark. Those exclusive seats really aren’t that bad when you consider the “Dugout Suites” only cut into about a 1/3rd of the seating bowl behind home plate. Also, the upper-deck club level seats are a great deal as $14 gets you the seat and access to the enclosed club/bar up there. In fact, the whole experience is a deal with reasonable concessions, most seats under $10 and parking at $3. The feel of a hang-out continues here with the abundance of places to stand and watch the game, including many rails for your food and drink. Though, I still feel the park is more geared to a place for convening, rather than watching baseball, I got to hand it to the fans who continue to come out in droves. LV led the ENTIRE minor league baseball circuit last year in attendance at 9,227 per game and continues to lead the minors again this year (at 9,161 as of July 30th). This area certainly is deserving of baseball and its great to see it here. Most of the region is comprised of Phillies fans and they care very much as it seems like there is a good relationship of rooting for the Ironpigs and watching the young Phillies grow.
If you want to see a great range of stadiums. I highly suggest visiting the Philadelphia Phillies organization, all within a short drive of each other. Start at the bottom in “A” level ball with the Lakewood (NJ) Blueclaws and their excellent shore ballpark. Then check out Reading’s old school AA FirstEnergy Stadium. After the Ironpigs, finish with one of the best ballparks in the majors, Citizens Bank Park. It’s hard to find a better slew of stadiums from top to bottom in a baseball class system.
As for the game, I am in an awful rut. The losing streak now stands at six (including four at new ballparks) as the Ironpigs were beat bad by basement-dwellers Buffalo. C’mon Hudson Valley Renegades, don’t fear when I’m in the park this Friday Night, play well and please get a win!