I had a free Saturday Night and with the completion of an earlier game postponement before the second of a doubleheader, it was a good time to make another visit to Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, PA. The stadium is about an hour from my house and when I arrived at 5 PM, they needlessly had the tarp on the field. The game was delayed 50 minutes without a drop of rain before we got started (they need a weather service!) That was about the only thing the organization did wrong though on this night as I was thoroughly impressed by how Lehigh Valley is first class all the way around. Let’s count up the little things because they add up and matter in the end:
- Many team employees direct cars and traffic, making entry and departure for drivers easy
- Golf carts capable of shuttling 3-6 people from further away spots to the main gate
- They have their own TV Broadcast team and the production is stellar
- During the rain delay, the Phillies game (their affiliate and closest MLB team) was shown on the huge videoboard
- Ushers politely hold all fans back from walking down during the middle of an at-bat
I’ll add one more, but it is a personal one. Whoever runs the music portion of the game production clearly is an old-school wrestling fan. I counted at least six different tunes during the game, including the ancient WrestleMania theme, which I love. Typically, I don’t get too distracted by the side entertainment, but I do have to tip my cap to the mascot, Ferrus. As little brother to the famous Phillie Phanatac, Ferrus does his best to live up to his legacy and he is quite funny at times. I also love the scoreboard graphics where he pops up to do something goofy (like draw a mustache on the visiting batter’s picture). The ballpark itself is decent and while it may not be in the league’s top tier in terms of design, it has some good features. I like the 360 concourse, along with the upper-deck club level that is affordable ($18) and offers indoor club access. There are several corner and outfield special sections that focus on a bar-atmosphere / social space. They all have names with some derivation on the pig and that is a prominent thing here. That’s fine and fun and all, but I would have liked to seen some team displays more instead of facts and quips on bacon. There is also a ridiculous abundance of ads in the building and my feelings on that haven’t changed as I remember that clearly from my first visit in 2008. Lehigh Valley still draws well and even though only individual seats were being sold, we had about 70% in the house. Crowd atmosphere was just ok, nothing special as they were reactionary as opposed to getting involved on their own. They were also slow to recognize well-hit balls that were on their way to being long home runs. At least a few got to their feet to bring the team home when the visitors were on their last strike. The IronPigs went on to win 4-1 and they look playoff-bound next month. A fine ballpark, where the little things by the team add up to a great stadium experience.