Five things to know as the Phillies welcome fans back to Citizens Bank Park
There won’t be tailgating — but there will be beer and ice cream in tiny helmets.
When fans return to Citizens Bank Park on April 1 for the Phillies home opener — 550 days since the last time they were allowed at a game — they’ll see a changeup at the stadium, and not just on the baseball field.
From zip-tied seats to socially-distanced lines for eats, COVID-19 protocols have been implemented throughout the park. But fear not, Phillies fans, for there will still be Crabfries, cold beer, and the Phillie Phanatic to to help you feel right at home.
“Even though this is really different, it’s going to be great,” said Phillies executive vice president David Buck. “It’s still baseball. It’s still going to be a ton of fun.”
As workers spruced up the stadium Thursday, a week ahead of the season home opener, Phillies staff provided an update on what fans can expect when they return. Here are five things to know before you head to Citizens Bank Park this year.
Entering and seating
Pre-gamers beware: There will be no tailgating permitted at the Citizens Bank parking lots, so get your flip cup, beer pong, and corn hole games on at home before you go.
Once at the stadium, fans will not be allowed to bring in backpacks or bags, except for medical or diaper bags and single-compartment purses. A spokesperson said disposable plastic bags (like a Wawa bag) would be permissible to bring in food and water. The Phillies said the bag protocol was to quicken entry time and to reduce the amount of contact staffers have with fans.
For those who forget the new rule, a locker service will be available on Citizens Bank Way for a small fee.
Masks will be required at all times for fans 2 years and older, except for when they’re eating or drinking at their seats.
Ticketing is 100% mobile and each ticket will have a designated entrance gate for quicker entry into the park. Fans are also encouraged to prepurchase parking online. Attendance is currently limited to 20% capacity or 8,800 fans.
Seating inside the stadium is in pods of two, three, and four people, with a limited number of pods available for groups of five and six. Seats not in use are closed off with zip ties to prevent access.
So fresh and so Clean Team
The Phillies have put together a “Clean Team” — who will be highly visible in neon yellow polo shirts — to sanitize the stadium with EPA-certified disinfectants before, during, and after games.
Hundreds of hand sanitizers will also be spread throughout the stadium and all bathrooms will be open, except for those on the pavilion level, which will not be accessible to fans.
Of dogs and doughnuts
Yes, you will be able to get ice cream in a teeny tiny Phillies helmet. No, you will not be able to get it delivered to your seat.
Seat delivery will not be available at games, but concessions stands are equipped with social-distancing markers and acrylic-glass shields and all food will come prepackaged in closed containers. Vendors will only accept cashless payments, including credit and debit cards and Apple and Google Pay.
While not every concession stand will be open, Kevin Tedesco, general manager at Aramark at Citizens Bank Park, said fans will be able to “get your favorite foods that made us famous,” including Chickie’s & Pete’s, Tony Luke’s, Campo’s, and Federal Donuts. Vegan options will also be available, including Questlove’s vegan cheesesteak, and beer will “absolutely” be sold, Tedesco said.
And dollar dog night? Tedesco is hopeful there will be one this season, but he doesn’t know when yet (the hot dog cannon will not be shooting franks into fans’ faces anytime soon either, for obvious reasons).
Mascot, mask on
The city’s OG mascot, the Phanatic, will be on hand at games to throw his stomach around and harass opposing teams, but don’t expect to see him sticking his tongue out anytime soon. He’s got a custom-made snozzle mask which prohibits him from protruding his tongue to scare small dogs and children.
The Phillies are also building a new platform for the Phanatic so he can get his socially-distanced dancing on — Napoleon Dynamite style — during his fifth- and seventh-inning performances.
The Phandemic Krew, a group of die-hard Phillies fans who made a name for themselves by gathering outside Citizens Bank Park to watch the Phillies play through the gates last season, has leveled up this year. Not only are they headed back inside, but they’ve got their own section — 245 — at the ballpark.
While seating is still done in pods, the Phillies have reserved that section for the Krew and gave them the tickets to sell in it for the first 19 games, according to Krew cofounder Brett MacMinn, 44, of Audubon, N.J.
“If you come out there and you’re a Phillies supporter, you’re in the Krew,” MacMinn said. “We welcome all fans who are supportive and don’t act the way Philly fans have a reputation for acting.”
While air horns (which the Krew used to taunt opposing teams from outside the park last year), aren’t allowed in the stadium, the Krew will still bring the noise.
“It looks like we’ll be able to bring the cowbells, so they’ll be something to let you know we’re there,” MacMinn said.
Tickets are also still available through the Phillies for most games, aside from the home opener, which is sold out.