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Friday, June 26, 2009

Allentown


It's amazing what you can do when it doesn't rain.

I jumped in the car because I felt the need to get away for a little while. Destination: Allentown. There was really no good reason, other than all this Lackawanna County Stadium talk got me thinking about Coca Cola Park. I was there just before it opened, and I wanted to see the finished product. Allentown is also home to one of the two Office Depot stores left in eastern Pennsylvania, but that's another story for another time.

The size of the stadium is deceiving. Coca Cola Park has a listed capacity of about 10,000. Yet, it looks smaller. It's not a tall structure. It features wide concourses, and the fans are close to the action.

Ballpark advertising is something we all have to live with. Coca Cola park features a couple giant outfield structures dedicated to ads. It's not quite as bad as I thought, but it's still something I'd rather not see. Unfortunately, there are big bills to pay.

The last time I looked, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs are second in attendance in the International League. The team is in its second season, so the novelty factor is still there. Plus, the Lehigh Valley is a decent sized metropolitan area, with a large fan base. The team is the AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The fan connection created by the parent club being an hour down the road certainly doesn't hurt.

I'm not doing this to launch into an unfavorable rant on Lackawanna County Stadium. Considering its age, the Moosic ballpark still delivers a mostly favorable fan experience. Traffic is always a nightmare, but you'll have that when you put thousands of people in the same place at the same time. Coca Cola park has two ways in and two ways out. That has to be a good thing. It's unfair to compare a 20 year old ballpark with one that's state of the art. I doubt the chance to build a new stadium is in the near future, and as I've noted earlier, a new stadium might not be the answer to the issues here.

Still, if you're going to do it over, Allentown would be a nice model to follow.