"We Shall Call This Place...Heaven"

<i>Last week, PhillyBaseballNews.com ran a review of the new Citizens Bank Park. Not all fans shared the thoughts of the review. One, Samantha Bloch, gave us her impressions of the new home of the Phillies. In the end, fans will develop their own impressions of the place, but we offer thoughts to ponder as we draw closer to the first official game ever to be played at Citizens Bank Park.</i>

In planning Citizens Bank Park for the fans of Philadelphia, there were a few things that the Phillies' brass wasn't shy about. One was spending the money. Another was how they were going to spend that money. They also were outspoken when it came to the design of the ballpark. Knowing that they were amongst the last teams to build, they had the advantage of taking what worked from some parks (Colorado, Houston, Baltimore), and scrapping ideas that didn't work from others. It wasn't any secret.

Guess what?

The fans of Philadelphia are pleased…very pleased. Make that, "extremely" pleased.

Well, most of us anyway. Most of us understood that on the first two days of the park being open, things weren't going to be done to perfection. Those of us who watched the news and paid attention knew that there were going to be some parts that needed to be finished before Opening Day on April 12th. Most of us expected that those who ventured out on those two rainy days in early April for the "run through, Spring Training games", would have spent more time on the concourses than in their seats, creating a logjam in certain areas of Ashburn Alley. We also know that it won't stay that way. That once fans have seen the place they will come for the games, that new ballparks take some time to work out the kinks and that before writing a negative article on a beautiful new park, he or she should wait until the final product is served up.

Despite the weather, crowded concourses of die-hard Phillies fans - walking around in awe with their jaws on the floor - and bathrooms that weren't in full working order yet, I am in love with Citizens Bank Park. As I said that Saturday afternoon, "In honor of Scott Rolen, we shall call this place…Heaven."

All of my life, I had wanted to go to a Phillies game in a good, old-fashioned ballpark. The Vet was home to me; it's all I've ever known. I was born the year after it opened its concrete doors. I've visited Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium, Shea Stadium and a few other parks. Nice, sure. Yankee Stadium has the mystique of course, but that comes over years and years of history. Being there was great, but it wasn't the home of my beloved Phils. The minute I walked in "Heaven's" gates, I felt at home.

The scoreboard was crystal clear, the grass was perfect, Thome's home run was fantastic and the food was wonderful. 'Bull's BBQ', in honor of the legendary Phils slugger Greg Luzinski, wasn't completed at that point (today it is), but 'The Bull' was still there, serving sandwiches, shaking hands and signing hundreds of autographs. His BBQ sandwiches were huge, with a sauce that I'll buy when it's finally marketed. Just another way the Phillies went all out to make the two spring training games special.

The design of the park is fantastic, regardless of the very tiny minority who thinks otherwise. I think its great that fans can practically talk to the players in the bullpens (feel bad for those visiting pitchers though!). I love the view of the skyline and the unique "angle" in centerfield, which is going to make for some very interesting plays in the outfield! The Phillies also honored past greats with beautiful statues within and around the park. Steve Carlton, Richie Ashburn, Robin Roberts and Mike Schmidt remind fans walking into the park of the past history.

For that one voice that thought there was nothing special about the park, there were 40,000 plus who thought otherwise.

I am one of them. I can't wait to go back. I love the low brick backstop behind home plate, the scoreboard, "Memory Lane" and the look and feel of the concourses. Its good to know that Philadelphia's version of "Heaven" will be around when I have kids and when they have kids so we can all enjoy it…for many, many, many years to come.

Check out Todd Tranausky's review of Citizens Bank Park. Call Me Crazy, But...

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