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Ranking the Stadiums of Philadelphia

Posted by Sean Rowland on January 27, 2016

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A few months ago,  a trip to McGonigle Hall on the north side of Philadelphia completed a journey to all of the stadiums on The List within The City of Brotherly Love. Only Drexel’s basketball arena could be considered as missing, but it was not visited as the Daskalakis Athletic Center only seats about 2500. I’ve really enjoyed checking out games in Philly and I’ve found that their fans have been unfairly stereotyped. Every city has bad seeds and that includes Philadelphia, but the brush fans get painted with here is grossly unfair. As for the stadiums, there are many really good ones that range from modern to classic:

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1)  Citizens Bank Park  –  Philadelphia Phillies  –  Ranking: 79.5

Despite the overplayed “Retro” style, this is a stellar ballpark. Along with a well-designed seating bowl, I really enjoyed Ashburn Alley in the outfield, where fans gather nearly two hours before the game. The historical displays in this area are well done and CBP has food that could sustain fans for an entire homestand. The rating may be a little high because of the inflated Atmosphere ranking since I went in the middle of their World Series runs, but even with an adjustment, this would still be Philly’s best stadium.

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2)  Lincoln Financial Field  –  Philadelphia Eagles  –  Ranking: 75.5

Not far behind is this building just a short walk away in the same Sports Complex. It’s another design that is friendly to the fans and what really makes the home of the Eagles special is the consistent fan support and very loud atmosphere. In many NFL stadiums, it’s easy to spot empty seats, but that’s not the case here. Fly Eagles Fly.

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3)  The Palestra  –  Penn Quakers  –  Ranking: 75.0

Not many cities can boast three sports facilities that are Bucket List worthy, but Philadelphia can and for a college basketball nut like me, The Palestra is near the top. I can still remember that sensation I had five years ago, walking thru the narrow concourse opening inside to a crescendo of noise and a historic gym like no other. 

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4)  Wells Fargo Center  –  Philadelphia Flyers  –  Ranking: 71.5

If you like hockey and are not a Flyers fan, then I’m sure you hate them. As a Sabres fan, I was squirmy in my seat with an uncomfortable feeling at a Flyers game, but from a neutral perspective, the arena experience is decent. The focus is solely on the game and while the arena is kind of blah, it is nice to not see distractions in every corner.

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5)  Liacouras Center  –  Temple Owls  –  Ranking: 69.0

The original “Apollo at Temple” is a much better name, but regardless, the Liacouras Center is a very nice mid-sized arena. As it approaches 20 years in age, it looks much younger and many schools would desire a building this nice. Keeping in mind that Villanova is a suburban school, it is surprising that more Philadelphian’s don’t come out to the games. Temple’s campus is only a few miles north of Center City.

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6)  Franklin Field  –  Penn Quakers  –  Ranking: 66.0

The University of Pennsylvania is just full of history and right next door to The Palestra is the football stadium, At over 100 years old, Franklin Field not only hosts Quaker football, but it also is home to the popular Penn Relays. This place is so much better than any old bowl stadium as Franklin Field has character and unique spots. Check out this corner seat. As for the game, make sure to be in the stands at the third quarter for the traditional Toast Toss.

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7)  Hagen Arena  –  Saint Joseph’s Hawks  –  Ranking: 63.5

I visited Saint Joe’s after the old Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse transformed into Hagen Arena, an expanded and upgraded facility that is still quite cozy. It’s a little claustrophobic inside, but that’s part of the charm. Can you imagine watching the 2004 undefeated Hawks team here and what an enjoyable place it was. After the game, I highly recommend a cheesesteak across the street at Larry’s.

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8)  Tom Gola Arena  –  LaSalle Explorers  –  Ranking: 53.5

This is the only stadium of the bunch that I did enjoy all that much. LaSalle is a pain to get to on the north side of the city and the building is surprisingly cramped for something built in the late 1990s. At the least the game was terrific, as I saw a double OT thriller that the Explorers lost against Manhattan.

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9)  McGonigle Hall  –  Temple Owls  –  Ranking: 48.0

McGonigle used to host all of those John Chaney basketball teams back in the 80s and 90s. Despite the Liacouras Center being built next door, I love how they kept McGonigle alive by having the women’s basketball and volleyball teams play here. I saw volleyball on a Sunday Afternoon in front of a handful of fans and the Owls win meant that Philadelphia home teams went 6-3 in games I attended.

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