This past Sunday was an unseasonably warm day in the northeast, so we decided to take in our first ballgame of the new season at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, PA. I’d been here twice before, but it is always fun to re-visit ballparks to see what has changed. In general, I’m not a huge fan of AAA baseball, mostly because the players are mostly non-prospects and the stadiums are not that intimate. Allentown no exception to this, but there is no denying that this Coca-Cola Park is a fun place to take in a game.
We arrived about 1 hour before the first pitch and there was already a rather long line of traffic waiting to get into the parking lots. The IronPigs charge a very reasonable $3 for parking, which is great because the lot is paved and it is a very short walk from the main entrance of the ballpark.
After entering the park we were handed an IronPigs house flag – it is always nice to get a giveaway item, though I suspect this one will either go up on eBay or be stashed away in a box alongside many other SGA’s I’ve gotten over the years. Also at the entrances are stacks of free programs, of which fans can help themselves. Unfortunately, the programs were already out of date and did not contain roster sheets for either team. Still, I love to see teams giving out free programs. Besides the giveaway, Sunday was also “Bark in the Park” day, so fans could bring in their dogs and sit on the grassy berm in the outfield. Not being a dog lover , I don’t really understand the point of this promotion, but for the most part the dogs that were there did seem well behaved.
Before the game, I needed to grab something for lunch. But how to choose with so many different options ? For a minor league park, Coca-Cola Park has one of the best varieties you will find anywhere. Cheese steaks, burgers, Gyros, sausages, pierogies, pizza, meatball sandwiches, pulled pork, corn on the cob. It is impossible not to find something you won’t like. This time I opted for a walking taco. For those not familiar with what this is, it is a bit like a taco salad in a bag. Usually they will take a bag of tortilla chips that have been crushed a bit and then add taco meat, lettuce, cheese, salsa, and sour cream. I had a very tasty one in State College last year, but this one was not quite as good. It was made with nacho cheese chips instead of regular tortilla chips and the toppings were a bit skimpy. Later in the game I also had a pretzel from the Philly Pretzel Factory – that was more to my liking.
The ballpark itself has not had many changes since my last visit in 2009. Apparently the only new feature for 2012 is the “Oasis” seats behind the left field fence. As can be seen in the photo below, these are seats which come with a table and must be bought in groups of four (for a reasonable $60).
Our seats were in section 101, which is the last section down the right field line. The seats in this section are angled towards home plate, so the view of the field is pretty good. On one of my prior visits here I had sat a couple sections over where the seats are not angled, which meant you had to crank your neck the whole night to see the action. Legroom is greater here than at most parks, so that’s definitely a positive. My only complaint with the seating is that that the slope could be steeper. Sometimes your view will be blocked by someone sitting directly in front of you. On this day, I had a bozo with an IronPigs mascot hat sitting in front of me for a couple innings. That really blocked my view. Is it really necessary for a grown man to be wearing a hat that is meant for kids ?
As for the game, it was both quick and uneventful. After the visiting Rochester Red Wings took a 1-0 lead in the second, the IronPigs answered with 3 in the third. There was no more scoring after that as Lehigh Valley ended up winning by a score of 3-1. Announced attendance was 9501.