FNB Field – Harrisburg Senators

by | Jun 14, 2018 | Jay Wagner, MiLB |

Fanfare Score

Total Score
3.57

Crowd Score

Total Score
3.57

 

 

Island Time Baseball

In the state of Pennsylvania, the two Major League cities that bookend the state are Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Both towns are home to great venues of their own, but perhaps the most unique ballpark is FNB Field, home of the Nationals’ Double-A affiliate, the Harrisburg Senators.

FNB Field originally opened in 1987 as Riverside Stadium, which was appropriately named. The ballpark sits on City Island; a 62-acre island surrounded by the Susquehanna River. FNB Field shares the 62 acres with riverboats, mini trains, and a soccer stadium. Ironically, Penn FC- the city’s USL soccer team- also play at FNB Field. It has been torn down and built back up multiple times, both due to scheduled renovations as well as flooding. Because the ballpark is on a small island, it has been prone to flooding. The most significant flood occurred in 1935, which essentially washed away every trace of civilization on City Island. Today, the playing field is in the exact same spot as it was over a century ago.

FNB Field currently seats 6,187 fans, although the capacity has fluctuated over the years for the oft-renovated ballpark. A whopping 8,637 packed the park on September 1st, 2011 for a game that featured Stephen Strasburg and Ivan Rodriguez as battery mates. The Sens also clinched their Eastern League’s division that night in front of the record crowd.

Food & Beverage 3

FNB Field’s concourse features a few generic concession stands with typical options. Pepsi provides relatively cheap soft drinks with the “souvenir soda” costing under $5. In the landscape we live in where most stadiums over price everything, it is refreshing to see places that don’t cost a fortune.

The food quality is about what you would expect from a stadium’s standard concession stand. Hot dogs, chicken tenders, and cheeseburgers seem to be the main items, which can be accompanied by peanuts, cracker jacks and various other snack foods. Unfortunately, there are not any unique restaurants in the park. Smaller versions of local restaurants are appearing more and more in stadiums nationwide, but FNB Field doesn’t really have anything like that. Harrisburg may not be known for Primanti Bros. sandwiches or Philly Cheesesteaks, but every town of a decent size has good restaurants that the locals know and love. Given how often the Senators have strong hometown crowds, the lack of local restaurants situation seems like untapped potential.

The workers at the concession stand have a lot of fun making the food, which catches visitor’s attention. I tried a “Bacon Cheese Corn dog” which is actually quite tasty. It consists of bacon, cheese, beans, cole slaw and the corndog itself. The sporks they give out with them are basically useless, so be prepared to get your hands dirty and make a mess.

Atmosphere 4

The Senators have one of the most knowledgeable and attentive fan bases in Minor League Baseball. Fans come to these games to have fun and relax, but their focus is on the playing field.

FNB Field’s grandstand is easily one of the biggest in AA baseball. It is tall and steep, putting the folks sitting higher up right on top of the action. There is a roof on top of the grandstand which covers about half of the seats in the 200 sections. The seats are some of the widest and roomiest in baseball. They feel like you’re sitting in a first class seat on a plane.

There is reserved seating most of the way down the left field line, while the right field line features general admission bleachers beyond the grandstand along with a picnic area in the right field corner. Behind the outfield confines from foul pole to foul pole is a continuous patch of thick green trees. There is a 360 degree concourse that wraps around FNB Field.

The sharp video board is good compared to other Double-A venues, although the scoreboard’s box score on the bottom is clearly very old and clunky. Still, it gets the job done. Based on where you’re sitting, the sound system can be either very loud or very quiet. With how often this facility gets improved, I’m sure that will be ironed out sooner rather than later.

Neighborhood 4

City Island is home to many fun leisure activities, which include mini golf, paddle boats, mini trains, and cruises around the Susquehanna River.  This is one of the rare venues that does not have any restaurants or bars within walking distance. Harrisburg has some good restaurants downtown. Unfortunately, none of them are within the general vicinity of FNB Field. However, what City Island lacks in pregame restaurants, it makes up for in other activities. What other sporting venue is on an relaxing island with paddle boats, cruises, and baseball? Although everybody loves good food, this different kind of laid back vacation-like setup is truly one of a kind.

Fans 4

Minor League baseball has always been about good, wholesome fun for all ages. Many teams try and provide that with loud gimmicky chants and cheesy music. Aside from the “We Want Breadsticks” chant a few times per inning, the focus of Harrisburg Senators fans is on the game. Most of the sounds played throughout the stadium are classic baseball jingles and cheers.

FNB Field always seems to find its way onto the MiLB attendance leaderboard, both due to a great park and dedicated fanbase. It surely helps that their parent club in the Nationals is only a few hours away. I even observed a gentleman watching one minor league game on his phone while attending this game. Now that’s dedication!

Access 4

FNB Field is probably not the best model for accessibility, but it doesn’t take too much effort to get in and out. Interstate 81 goes through the city, and if you’re coming from north or south of Harrisburg, I-81, it will be the road you spend most of your time on. A highway circles the city called the Capital Beltway, which was obviously named by somebody with a sense of humor. For those of you not from the east coast, Capital Beltway is also the name of I-495 in Washington, D.C. which is the one of the busiest roads in America. Fortunately, Harrisburg’s beltway is a bit less crowded.

Getting to City Island means you must first enter the city through a bridge across the Susquehanna River before turning 180 degrees and taking another bridge across the same river to the island. It makes you wonder if that is the most efficient way to get there. At any rate, you should get there without much headache. The $5 parking lots are plentiful about a half mile away from the gates. A few folks take the beautiful long walk across the bridge from downtown.

As far as accessibility inside FNB Field, the concourses are wide and easy to figure out. It doesn’t have the open concourse that has become so common in all sporting venues, but it is still very nice. In fact, instead of being able to see the field from the concourse, there is a cutout behind the plate where you can see the skyline of the capital city. Restrooms are big and clean. Overall, getting in, out and through FNB Field is very simple.

Return on Investment 4

In terms of bang for your buck, Minor League Baseball is as good as it gets for sports fans. You can spend hundreds of dollars at Major League Baseball games, or you can watch professional baseball for easily under $50 total. High-end seats go for $36, but the self proclaimed “cheap seats” are priced at $9. Box seats range from $11-$15, but the $11 box seats may very well be better seats than the $15 dugout box seats. Because the grandstand is so steep, you feel like you are hovering above the field. Overall, the return on investment is about average for the minors, which is a very high compliment. Nobody does affordable professional sports quite like Minor League Baseball, and the Harrisburg Senators follow that system to a tee.

Extras 3

The team store at FNB Field is located near the left field foul pole, and it is big. Not only are there plenty of options for souvenirs, but you won’t feel cramped inside while deciding. There are also a few cool features down the left field line, such as life-sized bobbleheads on the concourse and an expansive play area for young Sens fans.

Final Thoughts

Overall, FNB Field is probably not the most luxurious place to watch a game, and it’s certainly not the most conventional. A ballpark on an island in Central Pennsylvania is unexpected, but it manages to pull it off with great alacrity. We often talk about the uniqueness of various sporting venues, but FNB Field truly is one of a kind. In so many ways, FNB Field is the antithesis of what rural Pennsylvania is believed to be. In a working class city, FNB Field is a mini vacation. It’s a place to escape the cramped-up nature of downtown and kick back on a calm summer night with Island Time Baseball.

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Food and Drink Recommendations

Arepa City Latin Eatery

316 N 2nd St

Harrisburg, PA 17101

(717) 233-3332

http://arepacity.com/


Anthony’s Micro Pub & Pizza

225 N 2nd St

Harrisburg, PA 17101

(717) 238-2009

http://www.yelp.com/biz/anthonys-micro-pub-harrisburg


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Entertainment Recommendations

Hersheypark

100 W Hersheypark Dr

Hershey, PA 17033

(717) 534-3860

http://www.hersheypark.com/


National Civil War Museum

100 Concert Dr

Harrisburg, PA 17103

(717) 260-1861

http://www.nationalcivilwarmuseum.org/


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Lodging Recommendations

Comfort Inn Harrisburg

5680 Allentown Blvd

Harrisburg, PA 17112

(717) 657-2200

http://www.comfortinn.com/hotel-harrisburg-pennsylvania-PA267


Crowne Plaza Harrisburg-Hershey

23 S 2nd St

Harrisburg, PA 17101

(717) 234-5021

http://www.cpharrisburg.com/


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Crowd Reviews

Latest Crowd Reviews

Date: 2018-06-14 09:01:58
By: Legacy Review

Total Score
3.57

Antiquated Riverside Stadium is an afterthought here in Harrisburg. Now it is FNB Field and it offers a great value baseball experience in one of the most unique settings around. A baseball fan, or even a fan of a good entertainment experience should make a trip to see the stadium and surroundings. -Review by Richard Smith, Regional Correspondent, November 2017

Stadium Info

FNB Field
245 Champion Way
Harrisburg, PA 17101

Harrisburg Senators website

FNB Field website

Year Opened: 1987

Capacity: 6,187

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