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Event Spotlight:
Phillies Preview Center...Catch It If You Can

Wednesday, February 5, 2003

By Mike Costantino
SJSports Staff Writer

I was recently fortunate enough to be invited to the Phillies Ballpark Preview Center along with other media contingents. The Ballpark Preview Center is a 12,000 square foot building situated on South 7th street, not far from the ongoing construction of Philadelphia’s other new stadiums. Chief communication officer Sharon Swainson greets us along with her assistant Deborah. Sharon is also the spokesperson for the new ballpark. Having worked in television, as an executive for Disney, and assisted in opening other ballparks, Sharon’s experience is very impressive. The Preview Center features full-scale mock-ups of suite and club areas. These areas are used as display sites for the championship trophy, briefing and closer rooms. So far it’s been a great marketing tool for selling 58 of the 71 suites available. Ewing Cole Cherry Brott, the architecture firm that assisted the Phillies in creating the new ballpark, designed and created the Center along with (AEI Digital) the firm’s digital imaging division.

We begin our tour in the briefing room, which is revealed behind a wall that slides open. We’re treated to a three-minute video with Larry Bowa sharing his enthusiasm for the new stadium. Next we enter the championship room, where the 1980 trophy is on display in the center of the room. Joining us in the model room is Kevin Beale, Premium Sales Representative. Kevin reviews some of the seating distinctions. For example, there will be 1000 seats behind home plate at ground level called the Diamond section. These will be premium seats with access to private dining. Although the price has not been finalized, these seats will probably price in the seventy-dollar range. The “Hall Of Fame Club” level will be located between home and third base and contain 2600 seats. As of today, these seats will only be sold as full season tickets. Additionally, the costs of the “Hall of Fame Club” seats have not been finalized. We are then shown a luxury suite that has a baseball motif and seats 16 people. From the walls lined with baseballs, to the bar stools with seats shaped like bases and a restroom floor having tile with a grass likeness, this room has a true nostalgic feel. We end our tour in the closer room. As they shut the door, there is a life-sized poster of Jose Mesa hanging on the back of the door. This is where the sales are finalized. Lined along the walls of the closer room are baseballs with suite numbers and company names of those who have already purchased suites.

My editor asked me to describe the experience and the best analogy I thought of is as follows:

“Many of us have been on a time-share presentation, where they show you a video, take you on a tour of the grounds, see a sample condo and then back to the office to see what you can afford. Usually your wife is giving you that look, and you just want to get your free gift and leave. Well, this is the exact opposite. I can’t wait till the new stadium opens. Although some of the seats maybe out of our price range, they will have what’s called fan-affordable seating. Everyone will be able to enjoy the park.”

Sharon tells us the Phillies Ballpark Preview Center is estimated to be available for all fans to tour by summer 2003. If you get the opportunity, catch it if you can!

Photos by Mark Fletcher

©2003 South Jersey Sports Online Inc.