Chronological Tour: Stop 51

A Stadium in the Middle of the Susquehanna

Left-field (main) entrance to the renovated Metro Bank Park, Aug-2010.

The main seating bowl, as seen from center field on the new wrap-around concourse.

Greenery still obscures any view of the Susquehanna River from the stands.

Quick Facts: Rating: 3 baseballs
RiverSide Stadium is located on City Island, smack dab in the middle of the Susquehanna River between Harrisburg and Wormleysburg. The attractions on City Island include a kiddie train ride that circles the island; the trains can often be heard chugging around the ballpark as the games go on.

With the stadium in the middle of the Susquehanna, it has been imperiled by the rushing waters on occasion. During a flood in January 1996, ice floes from upstream knocked out half of the Walnut Street bridge that crosses the island; the section is no longer used. The stadium suffered flood damage as well, but opened in time for the season. The island and stadium also flooded in September 2004, as the remnants of Hurricane Ivan dumped too much rain in the valley for the river to handle. And the ballpark lost the fight against Mother Nature again in September 2011, as the Senators had to play an entire playoff series in Richmond, Va., following the double whammy of Hurricane Irene and the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.

There had been talk of bringing Triple-A baseball to City Island, as the Ottawa Lynx, a Baltimore Orioles farm club, were fixing to move, forcing the Eastern League team to relocate to another Pennsylvania location. As it turned out, though, the Lynx were purchased by an owner who moved them to Allentown, 80 miles to the east-northeast along Route 22.

During 2009, the Senators embarked on a major renovation of the park; it was complete for the 2010 season and the photos you see above are after that renovation.

Another stadium located on a City Island is Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Getting to the Game

Since the stadium is on an island, vehicle access is limited to the Market Street bridge. There is paid parking on the island, which is shared by the other attractions. The half of the 1890-vintage Walnut Street bridge that remains is accessible by pedestrians, many of whom park in downtown Harrisburg and walk to the stadium.

Market Street is closest to I-83, using the first exit on either side of the Susquehanna and heading north toward downtown. It is also accessible from I-81, but that is a longer drive from the freeway. That said, Front Street is a state secondary highway, posted 35 mph through most of Harrisburg, and it is a pleasant ride downstream from I-81.

Watching the Game

Tickets are in several price tiers, ranging in 2012 from $8 for general admission to $14 for box seats. There is also a club seating option.

In an unusual twist, the outfield concourse has reserved bar stools, so you can buy a ticket and be assured of being able to watch the game from a spot along the rail.

Lineups are posted on the wall behind home plate; names of batters and pitchers are also displayed prominently on the video and ribbon boards. The public address announcer is quite proficient and pleasant to listen to. There is a program sold at the game; purchase gives the buyer a chance to win lucky-number prizes. (In 1993, I won a $50 savings bond because my lucky number was called for a Three Up, Three Down promotion sponsored by a local bank, and the Senators pitcher retired the side in order. That particular promotion was no longer in evidence on my 2012 visit.)

All concessions are located behind the stands, out of view of the game, a setup that is not unusual for a late-1980s ballpark. The main seating bowl was not affected by the 2010 renovation, although the areas behind it were modified.

Enjoying the Game

The main “box” seats, in the 200 level behind home plate, are sheltered from the elements by an overhanging roof. An extensive bleacher is located down the first-base line; since the field faces south, this puts those seats in front of the sun for early-evening games. The bleachers on the third-base (sun) side were removed in the renovation, replaced with a field-level kids’ play zone.

The park now features a walk-around outfield concourse, although the walkway disappears well out of view of the field near the right-field foul pole due to a covered private picnic area. As noted, some of the spots along the rail on the outfield concourse are reserved bar stools.

While the game features plenty of canned music, as usual, the club also hires an organist for at least some games, a nice touch at Double-A. There is also a live organ at North Little Rock.

The view is of the island park itself; the kiddie train can often be heard chugging and tooting around the stadium. There is too much greenery here to allow for any river view.

Insect repellent is not a bad idea here, especially at night games, as mayflies have a tendency to descend on the ballpark as the sun sets.

Views of RiverSide Stadium, pre-renovation: One ... Another

Game # Date League Level Result
101 Sun 29-Aug-1993 Eastern AA HARRISBURG 8, Binghamton 3
212 Fri 9-Aug-1996 Eastern AA HARRISBURG 3, Binghamton 2
352 Sat 10-Apr-1999 Eastern AA Erie 9, HARRISBURG 6, 1st
353 Sat 10-Apr-1999 Eastern AA Erie 4, HARRISBURG 1, 2d
582 Sat 5-Apr-2003 Eastern AA Bowie 4, HARRISBURG 1
758 Sun 31-Jul-2005 Eastern AA HARRISBURG 10, Bowie 0
1067 Sun 1-Aug-2010 Eastern AA HARRISBURG 12, Portland 11, 11 inn
1232 Sat 1-Sep-2012 Eastern AA Bowie 8, HARRISBURG 5, 1st
1233 Sat 1-Sep-2012 Eastern AA HARRISBURG 4, Bowie 0, 2d
1253 Mon 27-May-2013 Eastern AA HARRISBURG 3, Reading 1
1329 Sun 3-Aug-2014 Eastern AA Akron 6, HARRISBURG 5
1512 Mon 5-Sep-2016 Eastern AA HARRISBURG 5, Hartford 4
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