Citizens Bank Park is set for opening day

The Yard and smoked brisket tacos are among the new offerings

Photos provided by the Phillies

By Bill Gelman

The early season talk about the Philadelphia Phillies has centered around new manager Gabe Kapler and his decision-making through the first three games against the Atlanta Braves. With tomorrow being the team’s home opener at Citizens Bank Park, 1 Citizens Bank Way, it’s time to shift the focus to the fans and the new offerings available at the ballpark this season.

The Yard, a 13,000-square foot interactive kids’ baseball experience, is one of the new exciting highlights. It’s being billed as an “experience that literally gets kids in the game.”

“We are very excited to take the fan experience to the next level,” said David Buck, Phillies executive vice president. “We’ve added several attractions that complement our family fun atmosphere and continue to make Citizens Bank Park a top destination. We can’t wait for our fans to experience all of the new features, food and fun that our ballpark has to offer.”

The Yard features a Citizens Bank Phan Field designed to model the Phillies own major league field, a 30-foot Phanatic Rock Climbing Wall offering a chance to clamber around City landmarks, and a Hatfield Phanatic Hot Dog Launcher — the same size as the Phanatic’s — that hits targets with soft-foam hot dogs. A new bullpen speed pitch, dugout, a mini-PhanaVision and Liberty Bell amd a Turkey Hill ice cream bar for children are included.

Keeping up with today’s Instagram generation, there are new photo-ops in the renovated left field entrance plaza. The section is a celebration of Phillies history where fans can snap selfies with oversized World Series trophies and large retired numbers of former all-time greats.

Thursdays, more specifically Throwback Thursdays, will see the Phillies sporting those popular powder blue uniforms from the 1980s during select dates. There are other special events planned throughout the season, including the annual alumni celebration the first weekend in August. The Sunday, Aug. 5, pregame festivities against the Marlins will include a 10th anniversary celebration of the Phillies 2008 World Series win.

Like previous seasons, there are new food offerings to try, too.

P.J. Whelihan’s, the popular sports bar, will be offering boneless wings, loaded tater tots, Copper Lager and other items in Ashburn Alley.

Taco lovers may want to pencil in a trip to the concession stands behind sections 120 and 135 to grab a signature smoked brisket taco trio. They will consist of house smoked brisket topped with jalapenos, cilantro crema, queso fresco and sliced radishes in corn tortillas.

No matter what food items fans decide to order, it may be hard to pass up a sweet treat from Jane Dough cookie dough behind sections 110 and 142. The gourmet edible, small batch cookie dough will be available with or without soft serve and toppings.

The Backyard Bar is a new spot where fans can enjoy a variety of local brews while Boardwalk Eats in left field is the place to find boardwalk-style concessions.

Now that the lineup is set with the new ballpark and food offerings, it’s time to play ball. First pitch for tomorrow’s home opener against the Miami Marlins is 3:05 p.m. Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch along with 14-year old Kaji Jegan, who will be representing Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.

The pregame fun begins at noon with the Phillies Opening Day Block Party presented by Budweiser on Citizens Bank Way, Go Go Gadget is performing live. A temporary Ferris wheel will be set up along with a Gametrain. There will be plenty of samplings, too, from Diet Coke, Turkey Hill Dairy, J&J Snack Foods, Hatfield Quality Meats and others.

Inside the ballpark, members of the United States military will unfurl a large American flag followed by the singing of “America the Beautiful” and “Philadelphia Song” by the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Men’s Chorale. State flags will be carried on the field by members of the City of Philadelphia Police and Fire Departments. Prior to the singing of the national anthem by Kane Kalas, son of the late Phillie Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas, the team will play a tribute video and hold a moment of silence for former pitcher Roy Halladay, who died tragically in a plane crash last year. He will be inducted into the Toyota Wall of Fame later in the season.