|PNC Field, which was originally a huge hulking structure that opened as Lackawanna County Stadium, was almost completely rebuilt for the 2013 season. Besides the field and lower bowl, very little remains from the old park. And that's certainly a good thing. While the old park was state of the art when it opened in 1989, nobody could have foreseen the building boom that went on in the minor leagues during the 1990's which would make the place obsolete by the 2000's. Along with the new park came a new nickname for the Scranton-Wilkes Barre franchise - a name the team contest resulted in the RailRiders being picked, but because the Porcupines names finished second it is featured prominently in the team's logo. Apparently they didn't think the RailRiders name was kid friendly enough, so it's odd that they decided to go with that name in the first place. Attendance had been dwindling at the old park, so it will be interesting to see how much of a boost they will get from the new PNC Field.
- The wraparound concourse is a must have now at minor league parks, so it is nice to see that it was included with the new park. The outfield area is quite spacious as it features two grassy berms and a kid's play area. I especially like the area of the outfield concourse in right field that features some trees - it gives you the feeling of walking through a park.
- The atmosphere continues to be pretty laid back at the new park. While the team does employ a "Pinstripe Patrol", they are only seen a few times between innings and don't ruin the overall atmosphere. During the action, there is very little in the way of sound effects, so it feels pretty pure.
- One aspect that I always loves at the old park and which was kept intact at the new park is the steepness of the lower seating bowl. It allows for unobstructed views and seats which are closer to the action. Why more parks aren't built with a steeper seating bowl makes no sense to me.
- Free parking and free programs ! There have been some complaints about there not being enough parking, but as long as you get here early, you will have no problem getting a spot.
- Lower ticket prices - amazingly the team actually lowered their ticket prices for the first season in the new park. The most expensive seat is now a very reasonable $12.
- The RailHouse seating in the right field corner features bar-style seating with counters. This is a cool feature that is popping up at more and more ballparks.
- The exterior, which is almost entirely metal and glass (sort of like Nationals Park, gives the place a rather sterile feel before you even enter the park. As of my first visit in April of 2013, no landscaping had been done outside the park, so perhaps it will have a better feel once completed.
- Like the exterior, the interior has a cold feel to it right now. There is just too much unpainted concrete along the concourse. Again, hopefully this is just a result of the park not being 100% complete at the beginning of 2013.
- For some reason (perhaps so the club level could be bigger), the press box is located along the main level. This creates a dark space along the concourse where fans are not able to see the field from. I've seen this "feature" in other parks and am not a fan.
- Does a team really need 3 mascots ? More mascots does not mean more fans.
Overall, the new PNC Field is an improvement over the previous incarnation, but it certainly did not blow me away. Compared to other newer AAA ballparks, like those in Columbus and Allentown, it simply does not stack up. I'm hoping that some of my dislikes are a result of the park not being quite finished, so I will be making at least one more visit later in the 2013 season and will update this review if anything has changed.
- The main concessions stands on each side feature jumbo hot dogs, Jr. hot dogs, burger, chicken sandwiches, sausage bites, and fries. Both hot dog and burger combos are available which provide a decent value.
- Other concession carts along the concourse offer Mexican options (walking tacos, nachos supreme), gyros, Italian sausages, and BBQ. The Bent Buckle BBQ stand, located in the right field corner, has both pork and beef sandwiches as well as perogies. I sampled the Perogie Pork sandwich ($7.50), which was quite tasty.
- Once again, Revello's is serving up pizza at two different stands. It is Sicilian style pizza and runs $4.75 for two "cuts" (slices).
- Overall, prices seem pretty reasonable for a new park. They may be slightly higher than the old park, but there certainly was not a huge jump.
- I was slightly disappointed by the overall variety of food. For a AAA park, I expect more options. Also, the fact that one cart (which was supposed to be offering potato pancakes) was completely closed so early in the season does not give a good impression.