The Sixers are tanking, the Phillies’ age has finally caught up with them, the Flyers are a lot worse than most have expected and the Eagles are coming off a major late-season collapse.
So where can sports fanatics in Philly (like me) turn? Well, how about some of the minor league teams in the area? Are they, uh, any good…? Let’s take a look.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (formerly known as the Philadelphia and Adirondack Phantoms) of the American Hockey League (AHL):
- The Phantoms play at the PPL Center, which is located at 701 Hamilton Street in Allentown, PA.
- The average ticket price is about $31.14.
- Club seats are the most expensive, which cost $55.
- Glass seats are $43.50.
- The cheapest seats are the upper level, which cost $18.50.
- The seating-capacity is 8,420, and standing-room allows for about an extra 500 people.
- As for the team itself, they are about in the same position as the Flyers. They are third in their division, and 11th in their conference, with a 20-16-4-1 record, which equals 45 points.
- The team has not made the AHL playoffs since they were the Philadelphia Phantoms in 2008-09. The eventual champs, the Hershey Bears, swept them 4-0 that year.
- Then in the 2009-10 season, they became the “Adirondack Phantoms,” and were really bad.
- Now they are the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and they seem to be doing a lot better this year. They do not have any particularly strong candidates for future stars of the NHL, but Nick Cousins is starting to make some noise, and some guys such as goalie Rob Zepp are making decent contributions to the Flyers when called up.
- As a result, people have been coming out to see the team play, helping to the team boast a very good home-ice advantage.
- Also, their jerseys are pretty sweet.
Delaware 87ers of the NBA Developmental League (76ers minor league affiliate)
- This is the 87ers‘ second year in Delaware. Last season they finished with the worst record in the D-league at 12-38. They currently have a 10-14 record… which actually isn’t the worst record in the league… so there’s some progress, I guess.
- The top eight teams make the playoffs, so it will be a couple of years before the 87ers start to become a playoff contender
- They play their home games at the Bob Carpenter Center, which is located at the University of Delaware, and is also the home of the University of Delaware BlueHens.
- The seating capacity is 5,000
- Ticket prices range from $11 for bleacher and “chairback” seats
- $11 to 21 for “preferred” seats
- $21 to $77 for premium seats
- $77 to $97 for courtside seats
- The D-league is a middle ground between college and professional leagues where players who were not drafted get to develop their skills to try and make the NBA. Player development is most critical for this team.
- Former Temple player Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and former Cincinnati star Sean Kilpatrick are among the group of players on the 87ers roster.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Philadelphia Phillies AAA affiliate)
- The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs possess the Phillies most major-league ready prospects.
- They play at Coca-Cola Park, which seats about 10,000 people
- The home of the IronPigs has been a very good venue for the team. Attendance has been tremendous and the facility has a very good reputation.
- As of now, the team is in the process of inviting players to try out.
- After Spring Training, coaches and management will assign players to either the Phillies, IronPigs or another affiliate.
- Some players may have the benefit of playing for the Phillies this year, but most are still at least a year or two away.
Reading Fightin Phils (Philadelphia Phillies AA affiliate)
- The Fightins play at FirstEnergy Stadium, which is the oldest stadium in the Eastern League, and seats 9,000.
- * Yellow Box Seats (Yellow Sections 1-9)
- $24.00 with Deck Buffet** / $10.00 without Deck Buffet
- * Green Box Seats (Green Sections 1-9)
- $23.00 with Deck Buffet** / $9.00 without Deck Buffet
- * Adult General Admission Tickets – Ages 15-61
- $21.00 with Deck Buffet** / $7.00 without Deck Buffet
- * Child/Senior General Admission Tickets – Ages 5-14, 62+
- $19.00 with Deck Buffet** / $5.00 without Deck Buffet
- The Fightin Phils finished in last place in their division each of the last two years.
- Developing baseball players is a much slower process than in other professional sports. It will be at least a couple of years until we see anybody from this year’s roster wearing a Phillies uniform.
- With that being said, a couple key guys to keep your eyes on will be 2014 first-round draft pick Aaron Nola, as well as Ben Lively and Severino Gonzalez.
- Oh, and there’s a pool in the outfield.
Camden Riversharks of the Atlantic League
- The Riversharks play in Campbell’s Field, which seats 6,425. They have drawn an average of about 3,400 over the years.
- They have had a losing record every season since 2010, and have finished either at or near the bottom of the standings.
- Tickets average cost is about $10.60
- 100 Level are the most expensive at $14
- Family Sections are the cheapest at $5
- Children and seniors get discounts
- You can purchase tickets here.
- Based off of wins and losses, the Riversharks are trending down.
Losing in sports seems to be the trend here in Philadelphia. However, Lehigh Valley is starting to become a nice little sports town. Adding the Phantoms along with the IronPigs is great for the town. The people from the area seem to love each team, as they pack each venue to support their respective teams. Hockey is fast-paced and is filled with almost non-stop action. Combine that with a great home crowd, and you’ve got yourself a great sporting experience.
As for the IronPigs, watching that team is like watching the Philadelphia Phillies younger brother. People get to experience the young players fine-tune their skills before moving on to the professional level. It’s almost like seeing your kid graduate high school and going away to college.
Hey, at least the Lehigh Valley teams have momentum in the right direction. In the meantime, have your whiskey ready, and maybe hit the minor league circuit to remind you why you like sports in the first place.