Reading Fightin Phils Announce New “Dugout Suite”

The Reading Fightin Phils will open a $25-a-seat, 56-person VIP area in an extra dugout along the first base line at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Reading Fightin Phils dugout suite

Courtesy of the Reading Fightin Phils

The Reading Fightin Phils are giving fans a chance to watch games next season like the players do.

Yesterday, the Phillies’ AA affiliate announced the creation of the Dugout Suite. Directly next to the home team’s dugout, 56 fans will be able to enjoy the game at field level. Everyone who buys one of the $25 tickets is also invited to an on-field cocktail party on the warning track before the game. For $70 — $25 ticket, $25 for food and $20 for a four-hour open bar — fans can have all-you-can-eat-and-drink service all game. Groups can even rent out the entire suite.

“Unlike most other club levels, or even the Diamond Club, we’re actually in front of the seating area,” Reading Fightin Phils GM Scott Hunsicker says. “It allows you go get out on the warning track before the game and kind of crunch around on it. It feels like it was the first-ever VIP club.”

Reading Fightin Phils Dugout Suite

Courtesy of the Reading Fightin Phils

Hunsicker says they’re not the first stadium to do this kind of set-up, but this kind of VIP experience is a first for FirstEnergy Stadium. Built in 1951, the stadium still has a retro feel despite recent upgrades. Hunsicker says it was important to make the new suite fit with the feel of the stadium.

“We are not on any historic register,” he says. “But we kind of hold ourselves to those same sort of struggles to keep it the way it was. … We kind of flip the narrative and do ‘new retro.'”

That thinking prohibits the type of super-fancy VIP section seen in newer minor league stadiums. The team could never offer its top-level corporate clients waitress service, because the most expensive R-Phils tickets (previously about $11) were basically just front row. A group of Reading Fightin Phils officials were standing on the field in October talking about this struggle when they realized they could fix this problem by creating another dugout.

To go with the retro feel, waitresses in the new dugout box will dress like the players in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (the league immortalized in A League of Their Own). The team will be serving the same food that comes at Reading’s well-regarded concession stands.

Reading’s first game this season is on March 31st, where the Phillies will be taking on a team of the organization’s top-20 prospects. Next, the Fightin Phils will play the Phillies’ AAA affiliate, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, on April 5th. Reading’s actual minor league season opens April 7th.

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