Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 2/22/12

Harrisburg's Metro Bank Park, home of the Washington Nationals AA affiliate Harrisburg Senators, is my home park. I usually end up going to about half a dozen games there each season, as I live about 15 minutes from the stadium. Going to games at the park has a special significance for me, as I almost always go with my dad. My father lives downtown, a short 10 minute walk from the stadium. So we'll usually go out for a drink before the game, and then walk across the bridge to the stadium.

Wait, the bridge? Metro Bank Park is unique for the fact that it's on an island called City Island, located in the middle of the Susquehanna River. Many fans like myself walk across the Walnut Street Bridge to get to the park, while other fans drive across the Market Street Bridge and park. City Island is a nirvana for someone who just likes to do stuff. In addition to the Senators' park, there is an arcade, batting cages, a mini golf course, a riverside beach, soccer fields, and a path lapping the entire island that many people jog or bike on. During the summer, City Island is bustling with activity, even when there isn't a Senators game.

As for the stadium, it was recently re-designed. The remodel began in January of 2009 and was completed for the beginning of the 2010 season. The bleachers that took up the entire first base and left field side of the stadium were replaced with a boardwalk with various stands on it, and underneath the boardwalk, various kids games were set up. The outfield, which was once just a mess of trees and nothingness, had the boardwalk expanded out there as well. The outfield now features the team store and Senators team office in left field, multiple concession stands, seats, and a bar-like setup from left to center field, made out of the former bleachers from the first place line. 

Between the bases behind the plate, comfortable seats now take residence, replacing the stiff plastic that once reigned supreme. There's also an MVP club type bar in the concourse behind the plate. The stadium used to be a relic of the cookie cutter minor league parks of the mid-1980s, but it is now a modern, fun place to watch a game. The on-field talent is good, as one game I went to last year featured the home debut of Bryce Harper (for what it's worth, I thought he was a very leveled and humble kid), and the last game I went to featured a rehab start from Stephen Strasburg (where he hit 98 miles per hour with ease).

It almost used to be a chore to make the trek to City Island. Now, it's a pleasure to go. With the Nationals making the jump to respectability last season and the farm system churning out excellent drafts, talent will continue to flow through Harrisburg and make Metro Bank Park one of the top minor league ballparks to visit in the country.

Photos courtesy of Joe Lucia

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This article first appeared on The Outside Corner and was syndicated with permission.

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