MacPhail says Phillies to upgrade ballpark

Improvements to fan experience, security on agenda

MacPhail says Phillies to upgrade ballpark

PHILADELPHIA -- Changes are coming to Citizens Bank Park.

Phillies president Andy MacPhail pointed out Tuesday that it is the oldest ballpark in the National League East, opening in 2004 and preceding Nationals Park (2008), Citi Field (2009), Marlins Park (2012) and SunTrust Park (2017). Subjectively, it remains one of the better ballparks in baseball, particularly with sightlines for fans, but the Phillies are planning to invest millions to improve the fan experience, upgrade security and more.

"While our payroll is not at an accustomed level that we've had in the past, this is the time to make investments in the ballpark and in the fan experience," MacPhail said Tuesday in a state-of-the-team news conference.

MacPhail briefly mentioned some of those changes and hinted at others. There will be upgrades to security, which likely means bollards around the ballpark. A new public-address system will be installed. There will be new lighting. There also will be upgrades to the fan experience, but MacPhail declined to provide specifics because the Phillies are still working with the city for approval.

But expect those experiences to be geared toward fans who prefer to wander the ballpark, rather than sit in their seat from first pitch to last pitch. The Rockies have a wildly successful party deck in the upper deck in right field at Coors Field. Ballparks like AT&T Park and Citi Field have Wiffle ball fields for kids, which are huge hits with families. Both are possibilities in the redesign.

The Phillies are not expected to tinker too much with the home clubhouse, but they are looking to add a more sophisticated area for players to prepare pregame. The Phillies' analytics department has expanded from one to 14 members, and the organization wants to take advantage of it. Currently, the Phillies hold their pregame hitting and pitching meetings in the weight room. They hope to build a state-of-the-art room for that.

"We think we have some very exciting things on the horizon," MacPhail said. "We're certainly going to do some of that for '18 and some of it in '19. We just don't know yet what's coming in '18 and what we have to defer until '19."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.