I’ve been to a lot of sporting events in my lifetime, but until this year I’ve never been so priviledged to even be close enough to catch a foul ball, let alone bask in a luxury box. Every squirrel finds an acorn now and then, though, and in the last two months I’ve lucked into seats in fully-catered luxury boxes at both Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia and FedEx Field in Washington. It’s enough to overwhelm you, but man, is it a good way to watch the game.
Just in case anyone thinks we’re raking it in on advertising, I paid nothing for the tickets and was more or less ‘along for the ride’ with some friends that had connections. These booths are typically purchased by corporations for use of their employees or to entertain new clients. Are the guys in those booths eating caviar, drinking red wine, and maybe packing down a truffle or two? We’ll take a look at each park, as they provided very different luxury experiences.
Citizen’s Bank Park (Philadephia, PA – Phillies Baseball)
The Phils’ still-mostly-new stadium is absolutely gorgeous, and the luxury suites are no different. Entering one was really a marvel for me, considering that in the past my greatest luxury was when there were no fans on either side of me (Nationals fans must love this). Oh man, room! The real dilemma comes in deciding where you want to sit. You can grab a plush chair that’s more recessed in the back of the room, or sit outside with the rest of the fans in upgraded (padded) stadium seats.
When we entered, there was a lot of food ready for us. On the indoor tables there were soft pretzels, kettle chips, and hoagie segments (chipolte turkey, anyone?). Nice start! On the side of the room, there was a bunch of catering trays supporting hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken fingers, cheese steaks, and all the condiments we’d need. Our in-room waiter, who served only us, took drink orders. They had a small selection of domestic and imported beer, but no mixed drinks. While I waited for my miller lite to show up, I cracked open the bag of roasted peanuts on my seat and watched warm-ups. Before the first pitch I would already have eaten a fairly decent amount of food.
Just when I thought I was satisfied with my plan of attack, they busted out the sliders in the 3rd inning. Pulled pork, chicken, and beef .. absolutely delicious. By this time I’d already had a burger and cheesesteak, not to mention the handfuls of chips and peanuts. Throw in some beer for good measure and after a pork -and- chicken slider on top of things I was tapped out. The 6th inning cookies weren’t anything to write home about, but did it matter? Apparently they usually had italian ice, but the machine wasn’t working. The humanity! The Phils went into extra innings, won the game, and I couldnt have asked for a more enjoyable night.
FedEx Field (Landover, MD – Washington Reskins)
FedEx field is one of the hardest tickets to get, and if I recall, has the longest active waiting list for season tickets. To get a seat anywhere seems like a priviledge, but to have an opportunity to watch a game in a luxury box? Yeah, pretty sweet. They do ‘luxury’ a bit differently than the Phils’ ballpark, though, making it a bit more of a community event.
After multiple ticket checks (more than the Phils), we eventually found our way to the Owner’s Suites, a spacious central meeting place for those with the most prestigous tickets. Almost like a mini nightclub, there was a full bar, dozens of chairs, LCDs everywhere, and plenty of food. Suprisingly, there were no burgers or hotdogs, but a much wider selection compared to Citizen’s Bank Park. You could start out with cheese and grapes, pita with spinach and artichoke dip, terra chips, or pretzel rods to snack on. When you were ready for something more substantial, you could move up to chicken tenders, sloppy joe, meatballs, pulled pork, and even a stir-fry bar with a full-time stir-fryer waiting for your request. Nice.
What was crazy about the food selection – and it was larger than CBP’s – was that everything had a a faint-to-obvious kick to it. Even the chicken tenders were spicy. I guess the ‘Skins owners really like good ole’ fashioned heat! The best part of the service, though, was the full open bar that CBP doesn’t provide. I ordered two long island ice teas which were among the most potent I’ve ever had. Lots of places dumb down the liquor when it’s free – not the ‘Skins!
I didn’t think our server was as friendly as the one we had at CBP, but he was also helping the room next to us and Im sure with all that free alcohol he was mighty busy. The room itself was substantially smaller than CBP variety, likely because all the food was outside of the room. Otherwise, it was plenty big for the 8 of us that were there watching and eating. The view was simply amazing. In the late 3rd quarter, we were treated to ice cream novelties. Autumn and I split an ice cream sandwich and called it a night. Like in CBP, the home team won which made things even better.
Overall, the food was good without being over the top. Both places had plenty to eat and were a considerable upgrade to the other stadium food. Obviously, you can’t beat a full bar at FedEx and the sheer majesty of its community-based suites adorned with hardwood accents, but CBP made up for it with its comfortable, sprawling rooms and dedicated wait service. I’d be absolutely elated to hang out in either one again!
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