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IRONPIGS FAN GUIDE


IRONPIGS FAN GUIDE
It's Season 2 for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Philadelphia Phillies' top minor league Baseball team, and their state-of-the-art stadium in Allentown -- Coca-Cola Park.

The 'Pigs are a big hit, offering affordable entertainment, even if you're not that big on Baseball.

There are 58 more home games between now and mid-August. Our fan guide will help you make the most of your time at the ballpark -- from finding the best place to sit to the best food. Read on. Go 'Pigs!

WHERE TO SIT?

There's room for 10,000 people in Coca-Cola Park, with 8,100 seats. No matter where you sit you are closer to the action than at any major league park such as the Phillies' Citizens Bank Park. No doubt the best view in the park is from the Dugout Suites right behind home plate, where you're closer to the batters than the pitcher is, but that is a $1,200 a night proposition. So what's the average fan to do? Check out the bird's-eye view from above right field below the Bud Light Trough, the bar area that was upgraded this year. Many, however, prefer the first-base side since it's closer to the entrance/exit. Still others prefer the third-base side because that's the area behind the IronPigs dugout and you can get closer looks at the players. A cheaper, fun alternative is the Capital Blue Cross lawn below the scoreboard -- you can't sit on a blanket and watch a game at most ballparks. There's not much shade, so be prepared. Also note that for night games, the right-field seating area will face the setting sun and it can be difficult to see the action for a few innings. By the way, season ticket holders get first choice at seats.

WHERE TO PARK?

The park sits on a plot between Union Boulevard, American Parkway and Dauphin Street and there are entrances off of each. Dauphin Street is the least used, so there's less traffic. It leads to the parking area farthest from the park, but that means less traffic as you leave. And there's a golf cart-style shuttle that can take you to the park. There's also not as much traffic at the Union Boulevard entrance. The busiest entrance is on American Parkway. While there are almost 3,000 spaces, depending on attendance, there may not be enough parking, so arriving early is wise. Latecomers may have to park on side streets but it's hit or miss. Don't worry too much about beating the crowd to leave, although people do generally start to leave around the seventh inning. Even a full lot only takes about 15 minutes to empty. Parking costs $3. Preferred parking closest to the park is available to club-level season ticket holders and other VIPs.

WHEN TO ARRIVE ON GAME NIGHT?

Parking lots are open 2 /2 hours before game time. Ballpark gates open an hour and five minutes before game time. The club level gates open one hour and 35 minutes before the game. Why would you want to arrive 21/2 hours before the game? To tailgate of course. Tailgate rules include no alcohol and only gas and propane units with fuel valve turn-offs. No charcoal allowed. No vehicle may occupy more than one space, so cozy up to a grass median for more area to spread out.

HOW TO GET TICKETS?

Buy tickets by phone, online or at the park. Single game tickets are $6 for general admission, which means you get into the park, but don't have a reserved seat. You can lay out a blanket and sit with several hundred others on the lawn below the scoreboard, stand on the Concourse or hang out at the Bud Light Trough bar area. Tickets are $9 for reserved seats at field level, which are most of the seats, and $14 for club level seats, which are the second tier seats, and generally not available at the gate. You can also buy 9-, 18- and 36-game ticket packages, which aren't cheaper than buying single game tickets, but will get you the same seat for each game and some perks. Season passes are still available for field level seats but club level season passes are sold out.

BEST FOOD?

This is really a matter of personal taste. Food is everywhere: there are seven permanent concession stands and 16-18 portable kiosks. It's standard ballpark fare, with the most expensive thing on the menu being chicken fingers and fries at $7.50. A half-pound burger and the popular Philly cheesesteak are $6. Sportswriter Keith Groller likes the offerings at the Third Base Lunch Pail, which has three stands side-by-side with lots of variety for one-stop shopping. Here you can get everything from sweet potato fries to burgers to funnel cakes and Coke floats. Food for a family can get expensive, so if you're watching your money, hot dogs are a reasonable $2 each. If you want a little spice in your life, the popular Big Porker, a barbecue pulled pork sandwich at $6.50, is a belly-filler without breaking the budget. New this year is the Jaindl Smoke House, with turkey legs and pork kabobs. For quickest service, avoid looking for chow at the start of the game when the lines are longest. Lines thin after the fourth inning.

BEER, LIQUOR?

Beer is plentiful in permanent stands and kiosks throughout the park. The renovated Bud Light Trough above right field is like a real bar, with a deck and seating. Beer prices aren't bad -- $5 for a 16 oz. draft and $5.50 for 16 oz. bottle, poured into cups, of course. The variety is pretty good, too. Along with the basics like Bud, Bud Light and Coors Light, there are two choices from the Brew Works and brands like a popular Belgian beer called Shock Top, Blue Moon, Corona and Land Shark. Last call is at the end of the seventh inning. The only spot to get alcoholic drinks and wine is the Club Bar, which is only open to season ticket holders or club level ticket holders.

SPECIAL AREAS OF THE PARK?

This ballpark has a number of special areas. Here's a rundown.

Party Porches: There are two Party Porches available for rent on the Club Level. They overlook the field on the first and third baselines. They are covered, but open air on the sides. These are fun areas for groups of 30-65 and rent for $35 a person, which include a two-hour buffet of ballpark-type food and non-alcoholic beverages. You also get access to the Club Level bar.

PPL Picnic Patio: This area above left field is for groups of 24 or more and can hold up to 500. Similar to the Party Porches, it includes a two-hour buffet and non-alcoholic beverages, but is not as intimate and costs less -- $25 per person. The area includes picnic-style tables and regular seats.

Suites: There are four Dugout Suites right behind home plate, which are generally rented to corporations and sponsors and others with big bucks to spend. They can accommodate 30 guests and cost $1,200 a night. For the ultimate experience, there's a Team Suite for $1,200, with an indoor lounge, outdoor area with padded seats.

WHAT CAN YOU BRING INTO THE PARK?

You can bring in strollers, portable radios and TVs, but no food or beverages. Your bags will be checked at the entrance and your water bottles and other contraband will be confiscated.

FREE STUFF?

There are very few nights that you don't get something just for coming through the gate. Promotions include everything from bobbleheads to collectors' cups to replicas of the Phillies' World Series rings. Sometimes the freebies run out, so it's always best to get there early. See the promotions schedule at www.ironpigsbaseball.com.

HOW TO KEEP THE KIDS ENTERTAINED?

Coca-Cola Park promotes its KidZone, a play area on the first base side of the park. KidZone includes a free area with slides and a lookout tower. There's also a pay-to-play area. Tickets, at $1 each, will buy one ride on an inflatable slide, two pitches at the speed pitch, five swings at the waffle ball game or five skee ball shots. Or buy an all access pass for $10. The area does get crowded at times, but thins out later in the game. Other ideas: Take the kids for a walk around the park on the 360-degree concourse level, a rarity in Baseball stadiums. They'll get to see the game from a variety of vantage points while burning off some energy. Or teach your kids to keep score, a longtime Baseball tradition. The free game program offers a Kid's Corner with a couple of puzzles and scrambles.

HOW TO GET YOUR KIDS INTO THE ON-FIELD ENTERTAINMENT?

IronPigs games aren't just about Baseball. There's lots of on-field entertainment. You'll see mascot races and balloon-catch contests between innings. Go to the Fan Services Center on the first base side of the Concourse to sign up your child to be a Morning Call Delivery Kid who delivers water to the umpires or to put on a pink piggy suit and participate in a piglet race.

WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR?

Friday night fireworks: There's a fireworks demonstration every Friday night after the game. It lasts about 15 minutes and is worth staying for, that is, unless you have a little one scared of the noise.

Home run fireworks: Fireworks also arrive whenever a 'Pig hits a home run. They shoot from the big Coke bottle atop the scoreboard. It's a cool, fun feature.

Majestic Clubhouse store: It's 3,000 square feet filled with everything from caps to jerseys to the all important foam fingers. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. It's also open during games. There are two other retail spots open during games -- the Majestic Dugout and the Pig Pile Kiosk.

By Keith Groller

and Jodi Duckett

COCA-COLA PARK

Where: 1050 IronPigs Way, Allentown

2009 Games: 144; 72 home games

Info: www.ironpigsbaseball.com, 610-841-PIGS


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 2, 2009

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