Featured / Local

Matchday 2011: What’s new?

Featured image: Paul Rudderow

With the March 26 home opener just around the corner, the PSP takes a look at any changes that may have been put in place compared to last year when it comes to the matchday experience. Here’s a look at what to expect, from parking, to using the new season ticket card scanners, to food and beverage options within PPL Park.

Parking at PPL in 2011

Part of the fun that is the Union matchday experience is tailgating at PPL Park. Tailgating means parking lots so the PSP talked to Michael Scanlon, Regional Vice President of Global Spectrum, which is itself a subsidiary of Comcast-Spectacor. Scanlon is the Global Spectrum general manager for PPL Park.

One major change that is out of the hands of the Union is the construction of the off ramp from the Commodore Barry Bridge. When asked when the off ramp would be opened, Scanlon said, “We are being told a mid-summer date but that is controlled by PENNDOT.”

For those who park in Lot A, Scanlon told the PSP that the surface of the lot will be the same as last year. Scanlon said of the lot, “although not paved it is a crushed gravel, striped and hard compacted surface.

One of the joys of parking in Lot A last season was watching the progress of the landscaping improvements along the river. Scanlon said, “The Riverwalk extension and green space construction between Lot A and the river extending from the stadium to Norris Street has been completed and includes a beautiful walk over a bridge and along the river.” He added, “the grass in Toyota Plaza that was damaged in the oppressive heat last summer has also been replaced.”

Speaking of Toyota Plaza, Scanlon confirmed that food and beverage service would continue to be available there.

When asked about shuttle bus service, Scanlon told the PSP, “Shuttle bus service will remain the same from Chester Train Station. We will not be using the other shuttle lots this year as we have reviewed our parking plans and we will have more than ample space to accommodate all vehicles within walking distance to the Stadium”

Season parking passes are still available for purchase and Scanlon urged those who have not already purchased one to do so. “They are an excellent value compared to paying each individual game and guarantee reserved on-site parking within walking distance of the stadium.”

One final note. If tailgating means parking lots, it also means portable toilets, and the more the merrier. Scanlon assured the PSP that “We are evaluating both the needs and locations.”

The new season ticket cards

So, you have finished your tailgating and are walking over to the stadium. What’s new to expect now?

The most obvious change, of course, will be the new electronic turnstiles that will read both the new season ticket card and paper tickets.

The process seems simple enough. As the message from the Union to season ticket holders explains, you “simply hold your Season Ticket Card still against the reader (orange area on the turnstile).” If the scan shows your card is valid for the game, a green light will display and you can pass through the turnstile. If the reader encounters an error reading your card, or if your card is not valid, a red light will display and a staff member will be on hand to help you or direct you to the box office.

For those with paper tickets, “all you have to do is insert the barcode area of the ticket face up into the scanner below (flat red area towards the bottom).”

As the message to season ticket holders makes clear, the new season ticket cards and electronic turnstiles are “very much a touch-and-go system.” The message continues, “As with all new initiatives it may take some time to get acclimated, so we encourage fans to arrive early.” So get to your gate nice and early—you don’t want to be your own Biden.

To accommodate fans who do arrive early, gates at PPL will open one hour before kickoff, with the Club and Suite entrance opening 90 minutes before kickoff. If you are a season ticket holder, it would be a good idea to read the message linked to above just to make sure you know what to expect and how the new Loyalty Rewards System works. For example, did you know that you earn bonus points by having your card scanned at least 30 minutes before kickoff? Neither did I until I read the press release.

Of note for fans who sit/stand in and around the East End of PPL (sections 120-136), a new walking area has been created behind the River End to ease access to their seats when players are moving on and off the field. “After entering the Supporters Gate, fans with seats on the East Side of the stadium will now be able to go around the back of the supporter sections and re-enter through the River Gate.”

Inside PPL Park

Food and beverage services at PPL are managed by Ovations, another subsidiary of Comcast-Spectacor. The PSP asked Linda Recke, Ovations’ general manager at PPL Park, what will be new in 2011.

The good news is that there will be new items on the menu. The bad news is that some prices have gone up.

Recke told the PSP that all of last year’s vendors inside PPL will be on hand in 2011. Among the new menu items are “a crab cake sandwich basket, pork Italiano sandwich, smoked hot sausage with toppings and additional dessert items.” Recke added that additional seasonal menu items will also be available.

The PSP supports local brewers so Recke was asked if there might be local beer options available inside PPL. Recke said “We are still finalizing the beer offerings for this season but we will have a great variety of options available as we did last season.”

“Unfortunately,” Recke continued, “we will have to raise some of the prices this year due to the increase we are taking from suppliers.”

The stadium concourses can get pretty congested during the half. Recke told the PSP, “We will continue to keep the lines moving to help with the congestion.”

One tool to alleviate the congestion is the Mangia in-seat food and beverage delivery system. Recke said that use of the system increased throughout the 2010 season and that the Union hopes the number of users will continue to increase. Recke told the PSP that, one way the Union is helping to increase use of the system is to make it easier to use. ” Beginning this season, “fans will not have to sign up in advance” to order food from their seats.

For now, at least, food and beverage purchases will not count toward the Loyalty Reward System. “While this is a long term goal and something that we are working towards,” Recke said, “it will not be in place at the start of the season.”

And, just so you know, Los Tacos will be back in Toyota Plaza in 2011.

Image of electronic turnstile courtesy of the Philadelphia Union.

12 Comments

  1. Way to save the best for last, Ed.

  2. Ed. Its 11 days before the home season starts and I still haven’t received my tickets, so pardon me if this is a question others know the answer to. Will I be getting a single credit card for my seat for the entire year? or a card AND a set of paper tickets? It seems insane for that one card to be worth so much. People share season tickets all the time and while I intend to go to as many home matches as I physically can, are the Union telling me that I’m supposed to hand my season ticket card to friends who are using my seats and then trust that I’ll get them back? That seems insane.

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      Eli, you are a very lazy boy.

      You will get a season ticket card for each seat on your season ticket plan. So, if you have two seats on your plan, you will get two cards.

      The Union are not telling you to hand out your season ticket cards. Here’s what the fan message linked to above says:

      “Each seat you have on your account will have its own card that will have all 18 games in the season ticket plan loaded on to it. Each card will feature the account holders name, account number, and seat location…

      “For those of you that share your seats with other friends or family members, the card system will make things even easier for you. Now you won’t have to worry about trying to meet up with anyone to give them the tickets, all you have to do is log into your online Account Manager and use the Transfer Tickets function. This will send an email with a PDF attachment of the tickets, allowing the recipient to print out a paper ticket. This year the forwarding of tickets and the print at home feature will be free for card carrying season ticket holders…

      “You can transfer your tickets via email on a game-by-game basis by logging into your online Account Manager. After logging in, click on “Transfer Tickets” under the Manage My Tickets area. Click on the “Transfer” link under the event that you want to transfer. You will then be taken to a page where you need to select which seats you want to transfer and enter the recipient’s contact info. Once the transfer request is submitted, both the transferor and the recipient will receive emails confirming the transfer. When tickets are transferred, your Season Ticket Card associated with the transferred tickets will automatically be voided for that particular game.

      “Season Ticket Cards must be re-printed in advance and cannot be done on game day. Any reprints on game day will be printed as paper tickets for a fee of $6, and loyalty points will not be accrued.”

      I haven’t received my tickets yet either but a friend who lives two blocks from me got his yesterday (along with some nifty scarfs) so I think both your and my tickets ought to be arriving today or tomorrow. A message from the Union on Monday said that if you haven’t received your tickets by Monday, March 21 to contact your ticket representative.

      The only thing that is insane at the moment is the amount of anticipation I have for this freaking season to get started. And I’m not talking about tonight’s game!

  3. Eli,
    It’s been explained that if you can’t make a game, you can get paper tickets printed very easily. No need to hand your card to another person.

  4. @Eli, I think if you sign onto your ticket account on the Union’s website you can enter the email address of the friend you want to give the tickets to and it sends them a PDF that they can print out and use as their tickets to that specific game, that’s the way I understand it anyway

  5. I don’t have to walk across the roof of the River End to get to 135 anymore? But that was part of the fun…

  6. Did anyone tell Eli he can print tickets?

  7. Josh Trott says:

    “You don’t want to be your own Biden.” This is gold. I’m nominating you for the Pulitzer. Can blogs win Pulitzers?

  8. So you’re saying I can print tickets?

  9. Dear Ed,

    Thanks for a very informative article. I am glad to hear about the walkway behind the River End. Last year it was a problem when I had my elderly father with me and we entered through the Supporters Gate (closest to ADA parking) and had to get to midfield on the Bridge Side. This should be helpful for people.

  10. What happens when the ticket scanners become self-aware?

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