For almost 25-years stood a small, unattractive ballpark located in the middle of a small island in the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, Pa. This ballpark quickly became a reminder of how far the architects have progressed in their designs of our minor league stadiums. Like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, it’s been given a fresh makeover and has become a beacon of man’s imagination and resourcefulness. The home of the Harrisburg Senators of the Double-A Eastern League has changed from a simple day of watching baseball, to a night of rejoicing and celebrating.
Metro Bank Park can be reached either by motor car or by foot via the downtown bridge. The traffic can become somewhat cumbersome as opposed to a leisurely stroll across the river; however, the Senator’s crew that directs traffic will get you in and out as quickly as possible. Attendance, once mired towards the bottom of the league’s ladder, has now increased since the renovations were completed. The Senators are averaging close to 4,000 fans through 45 home dates this season — numbers that make GM Randy Whitaker smile and have possibly created word-of-mouth advertising throughout the region.
“The Harrisburg Senators put on one of the best shows in baseball,” Whitaker stated via email. “Our game presentation is tightly programmed to appeal to a variety of fans, from the hard core baseball fan to the casual group looking for broad-based family entertainment. There is something for everyone.”
The team’s impressive modernized ballpark may have the look of other venues in the league, but it has an array of individualism. Gone are the cramped concourses in favor of a wooden boardwalk that leads patrons from the main entrance of the stadium. Because Pennsylvania never acquired that sea port entry to the Atlantic Ocean, it can mirror the feeling of being at the Jersey Shore with vendors selling anything from the latest gadgets, contests and home service on its wooden marque. This area also features a row of umbrella-covered picnic tables.
Another fan attraction is the wrap-around concourse that leads to the outfield. There the fan has a choice of seating options, including the porch seating in the left field corner or the snug swiveling chairs that line towards centerfield. The concession stand in right field is roofed by the stadium’s giant scoreboard and screen. If one should feel the slight nostalgic, they can simply purchase a ticket for the aluminum seating that still adorns the right-field base line.
For this seasoned ballpark hunter, who last visited the stadium in 2002 on a cold spring afternoon, the aluminum bleachers and steel surroundings were uninspiring as they were depressing. The vapid ballpark could have been razed and replaced with a structure that mirrors its fellow Eastern League contemporaries in Manchester, N.H., Altoona, Pa., and Trenton, N.J. Instead, the decision to upgrade the ballpark has resulted in this once inglorious structure becoming one of those facilities a ballpark hunter may have to revisit from time to time in the future.
Marc Viquez is a contributing author for Ballpark Business (www.ballparkbiz.com). A fan of baseball for most of his life, Marc has been traveling around the country writing about minor league baseball since 2001 for various websites and print publications. When he is not searching down a ballpark, he can be found teaching middle school in Indianapolis, Indiana.