Phillies are hottest draw in town

 Posted by at 1:58 pm
Aug 192010

Ashburn Alley at Citizens Bank Park

August 19 Philadelphia Inquirer

“To Francesca Green and Augusta Harris, both 17 and from Berwyn, attending a Phillies game means an overflowing ballpark with a view of Center City, a nose-pleasing aroma of Bull’s BBQ and Tony Luke’s cheesesteaks in Ashburn Alley, and a perpetually contending team of all-stars.

Both girls said they had no recollection of Veterans Stadium, where the Phillies played before they moved in 2004 to the new Citizens Bank Park, which has become a major destination for baseball fans, including young people such as Green and Harris.

“Our friends have some seats from the Vet,” Harris said, sounding as if she was talking about some 19th-century antiques.

The Phillies are expected to reach a milestone Thursday night with their 100th straight home sellout, an unthinkable occurrence in the days of the Vet. While the Phillies sold out only 47 regular-season games in 33 years at the large and unfriendly Vet, they already have 271 regular-season sellouts in less than seven years at Citizens Bank Park.

“The Vet was bad,” said Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. “You’d look up and see something like 20,000 on the official attendance and you’d look in the stands and it was like 12,000. There were times you could hear someone whisper.”

The Phillies have sold out just over half of their 539 regular-season dates since the current ballpark opened. The last game the Phillies did not sell out was July 6 of last season when they drew 41,548 for a game against the Cincinnati Reds. It was among only eight games that did not sell out a year ago, as the team drew a record 3,600,693 fans in 81 regular-season games.

This season, the Phillies are averaging more than 45,000 fans per game and rank first in the National League and second in baseball to the New York Yankees in average attendance.

In order to qualify as a sellout, Weber said, the Phillies must attract between 42,900 and 43,100 paid spectators.

“If we hit that number, we would consider it a sellout,” said John Weber, the Phillies‘ vice president of sales and ticket operations.

Capacity at the ballpark is listed as 43,651, which means more than 1,000 fans on a typical night watch the game in standing-room only areas. Many of those hang out in Ashburn Alley, a wide-open corridor beyond the outfield walls that typically attracts the Phillies’ younger fans.

Michael Harris, the Phillies’ director of marketing and special projects, said the team does demographic studies, but said that it is team policy to not release that information. He said when the new ballpark was built the Phillies had a younger clientele in mind.

“There was a rebranding at the facility,” Harris said. “Suddenly there was a cool factor that did not exist before. The openness of the ballpark creates a natural social atmosphere.””

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