|FirstEnergy Stadium is proof that a city does not need a new stadium in order to draw fans. As long as improvements are constantly made to the park, and prices remain affordable, people will come out to the park. How else to explain Reading being near the top of the Eastern League attendance leaders on a yearly basis, ahead of many cities which have shinier new ballparks? I've attended three games here, and have been amazed to see the crowds of people waiting to get in when the gates open. Known as "Baseballtown", it is hard to argue with the moniker.
- Everywhere you look, there is colorful signage and history on display. Literally, there are no walls or spaces that go undecorated. It gives the ballpark a carnival-like feel, which is certainly a good thing since the ballpark by itself is nothing special.
- There are numerous places where fans can sit and enjoy their concessions. Any place where the team could squeeze in a table, they have. And they have done this without compromising concourse space for fans just walking around. I especially love how this old batting cage was turned into a picnic area.
- The concourse under the original grandstand has displays about the history of the various teams which have called this ballpark home. In addition, the old-school signage is a great touch.
- There are numerous activities for kids, both pre-game and during the game. The team has five different mascots, all of which are on hand to entertain. Free mascot photos are provided for kids to get signed. Also, there is a small train available before game for kids to ride on. A small kidís area with several inflatables is located in the right field corner.
- While the grandstand isnít that of a classic minor league ballpark, it does have a small cantilevered roof which covers some of the seating area behind home plate.
- Behind the right field fence, there is a group area that features a small pool. This is something not found at many minor league ballparks!
- The exterior of the ballpark is meticulously maintained and beautifully landscaped.
- Along the first base side, there is a "dugout" are where fans can enjoy the game at field level and be shaded by a roof over their heads. Pretty cool!
- Though the team has multiple mascots, the most famous character here is definitely the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor. He usually makes one appearance during each game where he tosses free hot dogs into the crowd.
- Everything is extremely affordable. Almost all the tickets are $10 or less, parking is free, and programs are free.
- The seating is not the most comfortable here. While it all chairbacks, the seats are the plastic molded type which donít fold up. This makes it difficult to get out of an aisle. The legroom is also not as much as newer parks have.
- It would be really great if they could incorporate a full wraparound concourse. This would seem be an obvious improvement that could be made as there is plenty of room for one.
- As can be expected with several mascots (and the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor), the atmosphere is not always focused on baseball. There are lots of distractions here, but I guess thatís one of the ways that they get so fans to come out.
In the early 2000ís, there was rumors about the team wanting a new ballpark being built in Reading, but now it definitely seems that the owners are very content with staying put at FirstEnergy Stadium. Reading should be an example for all those cities complaining because they can't draw with their "old" , luxury box-less parks. Simply put, it is a classic minor league experience that cannot be beat.
- At the minor league level, you probably wonít find a better variety of concessions anywhere. There truly is something for everyone here. And for the most part, the prices are very reasonable.
- The most popular food item seems to be Mannyís Fries. The servings are huge and seemingly every fan has to get one at some point during the game.
- The Bud & Burgers stand along the first base side features burgers, cheesesteaks and the famous "Churgerí (a burger and chicken breast on the same sandwich).
- The hot dogs are just $2 and are some of the best you will find at any ballpark. They are always hot and the bun is always fresh.
- Other unique items include stuffed pretzels, corn on the cob, and buffalo chicken tenders. For those looking for healthier options, wraps, salads, and soups are available.
- Bar areas are located on both the first and third base sides as well as behind the left field fence. And as mentioned previously, there are plenty of tables where fans can enjoy their food.