Fans find ballpark's fare is not foul Wet and cold, they turned to the food, which got mostly positive reviews.

Posted: April 13, 2004

What to do at the new stadium on a wet, cold opening day, when the game begins to lag?

Eat.

The concession lines during the Phillies' regular-season home opener at Citizens Bank Park formed early yesterday. They lasted through much of the game, as fans went back and forth from their seats and into the concourses, to move around, warm up, and chow down.

The reaction was generally positive.

"I come to the game for the hot dog! That's what I want - a regular, old ballpark hot dog," said Carrie Batty, who works with the Federal Aviation Administration and was relishing her mustard-laden treat.

FOR THE RECORD - CLEARING THE RECORD, PUBLISHED APRIL 15, 2004, FOLLOWS: An article Tuesday about fans' reaction to the food at Citizens Bank Park on opening day credited the wrong Philadelphia tavern for one of the selections. McNally's, in Chestnut Hill, is cooking the Schmitter, its signature sandwich, at the ballpark.

Several sections away, Adam Paul shrugged 4-year-old shoulders when asked about his doggie; his father, Michael, a resident physician at Temple University, was less noncommittal: "They're definitely more tasty than they were at the Vet, not as soggy."

In fact, several types of hot dogs are available at Citizens Bank Park, where, in the spirit of new ballparks around the country, bunts and line drives are still the focus but food is no longer served on the fly. In addition to ubiquitous food stands in mid-concourse and around the ballpark rim - all constantly busy yesterday - the three main restaurants had nonstop table turnover.

Lines at McFadden's Restaurant & Saloon, which allows diners and drinkers to enter from outside the park as well as inside, were unending. The wait to get into Harry the K's roof-covered dining level was about 20 minutes - and that was during the seventh inning, as things were calming down.

"The first thing we asked for was hot chocolate," said Amy Brennan of Trevose, who was eating at Harry the K's with her husband, Tom, and son Tommy, 2.

Bull's BBQ, whose rich, charcoal-grilled aroma filled the main level at right field, attracted a constant stream of hungry fans.

"This is real good - a very good size, and the beans and coleslaw are also good," said Sandi Whiteman of Folsom, handling a beef sandwich on a kaiser roll while sitting with friends under a welcome umbrella-shielded table.

Many concessions are named for parts of the city, and their signs carry small descriptions of the places: Fairmount Fries ("in beauty and breadth, few city parks can compare") or Old City Creamery (nightlife is "hip and hopping") or South Philadelphia Ninth Street Market ("a unique Philadelphia treasure"). These sell the basic fare of a ball game - standard hot dogs ($3); nachos ($4); pizza ($3.75); and, of course, popcorn and Cracker Jack ($3.50 and $3.75).

They also sell basic cheesesteaks ($6.75). The ballpark's "name" cheesesteaks - from places like Geno's, Tony Luke's and McMenamin's - were quite well-received by fans.

The standard ones from regular concessions were getting mixed reviews, or worse. "Mine was horrible. It was dry," said Chuck Gill, an accountant from Horsham. His wife, Jeannie, seconded the critique, and said she couldn't even taste the cheese on hers. (Their two elementary-school children, playing time-honored hooky on opening day, liked their chicken tenders.)

"Mine was cold," said Jeff Wing, 36, of Delaware County, after he finished a cheesesteak outside one of the regular concessions. Did it do some justice to the city that makes it famous? "Not even close."

Contact staff writer Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727 or hshapiro@phillynews.com.

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