Things are looking up for the Phillies this season, and not just because of Bryce Harper and the rest of the lineup Sports Illustrated called “loved in Philly — feared everywhere else.”
Fans who come out to cheer the team will find lots of upgraded amenities, the biggest of which is the brand new indoor-outdoor space at the third-base gate.
Renovations have swept away any memory of McFaddens, the sports bar known for its rowdy crowd, and instead left a bright, cheery, multi-venue beer garden with direct access to the field.
Fronted by the giant neon-outlined Liberty Bell that used to top Veterans Stadium, the new concession is anchored by a restaurant called Pass and Stow. Covered patio seating is joined by a brick-oven pizza stand and a four-sided bar pouring locally-brewed beer.
How attractive is the new concession? It’s telling that one of the most asked questions at a media preview was whether it would be accessible by the general public.
For now the answer is no — Pass and Stow and friends are behind the gate, so you need a ticket to get in. But there’s the possibility it’ll be opened up to everyone.
“If it’s popular, who knows?” said Phillies Executive Vice President David Buck. “But we’re a ballpark first. Our goal is for people to enjoy the game.”
Read on for more details about what’s new at Citizens Bank Park this spring — including our take on the plant-based Questlove’s Cheesesteak.
After the Vet was demolished, according to Buck, the Liberty Bell sign was sent to a salvage yard, where it languished for the next 14 years.
It was scooped up for just $9,000 or so to become the signature icon of — and inspiration for — the new Phillies beer garden.
Pass and Stow, you see, were the gents who fixed the Liberty Bell — although their work also ended up having a flaw.
The bell arrived from England in 1752, but the first time it was tested, the clapper cracked the rim. Leaders then turned to local founders, specifically the duo of John Pass and John Stow, who cast it anew. Their bell lasted nearly a century until it cracked again.
Fans can eat and drink at the covered patio seating outside Pass and Stow.
Next to the tables is a foursided bar serving Goose Island beer.
Goose is a Chicago-based brand that is owned by AB InBev, but it does have an outpost in Fishtown, and the beer on these taps is reportedly brewed right here in Philadelphia.
A walk-up pizzeria offers additional outdoor food options.
Firepits and a logo’d waterfall complete the al fresco amenities. The area is open on gamedays starting two hours before first pitch.
Inside Pass and Stow is more seating and a long bar, plus plenty of flatscreen TVs so you don’t miss the action when you’re nabbing a bite.
The bar is backed by a customizable split-flap display — similar to the one Amtrak just removed from 30th Street Station — by local production company Oat Foundry.
Pass and Stow’s seating flows directly into a new Shake Shack concession. Additional tables lead into the stands, placing you right near Section 126 behind home plate.
There are two ordering windows at Shake Shack, one on each side of the kitchen, and they’re designed to get people served fast.
Offered at stands in Sections 108 and 120 is the brand new Questlove’s Cheesesteak.
Citizens Bank Park will be the first place to serve the dish created by and named for The Roots drummer. Instead of beef, it’s built around plant-based Impossible 2.0 meat.
What’s it like? The signature pepper relish on top is killer. The white cheese sauce is salty and gooey and much less plasticky than Whiz. The Amoroso roll is properly soft with just enough chew.
The meat…isn’t meat. Obviously. And you can tell. It doesn’t taste bad — the whole thing is actually pretty good.
Definitely not the same, but a valid substitute for those who choose.
There’s no vegetarian alternative to the new donut burger, offered at Boardwalk Eats. We’re gonna call that a good thing.
Apparel options have also been given an upgrade. The New Era Phillies team store is the only place all starting player jerseys are sold, per management. There’s also the “largest cap wall in the country.”
It all kicks off on March 28, when Harper, Nola, Hoskins and Realmuto take on the Braves and try to recapture the magic of a championship-caliber team.