The Vet – Veterans Stadium

The Vet – Veterans Stadium

Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia was home to the National League Phillies from 1971 until 2003.

Phillies at Veterans Stadium (Philadelphia Post Card Co./photo by Frank Burd)

The stadium was part of a larger sports complex located south of downtown Philadelphia adjacent to Interstate 95 at Broad Street.

Stadium Complex (Art Color Card Distributors)

The only sports venue still standing in the postcard pictured above is the Spectrum, which was once home to Philadelphia’s hockey and basketball teams.

Veterans Stadium Visible from I-95 Heading North

The “Vet,” as it also was known, dominated the landscape along Interstate 95 heading north into Philadelphia.

Veterans Stadium along Pattison Avenue with Broad Street Subway Stop in Forground

Veterans Stadium was dedicated on April 4, 1971, to the “brave men and women of Philadelphia who served in defense of their country.”

Philadelphia Veterans Stadium Bronze Plaque Posted on Pillar Outside Stadium

Like many of the so called “cookie-cutter” stadiums constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, Veterans Stadium’s playing field was mainly artificial turf. During summer days like the one in the picture below, it was not uncommon for the field temperature to reach 120 degrees.

View of Veterans Stadium from Center Field

A flattened version of Philadelphia’s famed Liberty Bell stood high above the stadium’s the center field seats.

Veterans Stadium Liberty Bell

Veterans Stadium section signs continued the Liberty Bell theme.

Veterans Stadium Sections Signage

The Vet’s original yellow and red plastic seats were replaced during the 1990s with blue plastic seats, making the seating area more uniform, if less colorful.

Giants Players In Pre-game Stretch on Veterans Stadium’s Light Green Turf

One advantage of the artificial turf, as opposed to natural grass, was it allowed fans the opportunity to sit on the field during firework night without any fear of damaging the playing field.

Baseball Fans Cover Veterans Stadium Outfield in Anticipation of Fourth of July Fireworks Display

The Vet’s linoleum floor on the concourse behind the 200 level looked more like something out of a high school cafeteria than a professional baseball venue.

Veteran Stadium’s Red and White Linoleum Tile

In an effort to attract more fans, the Phillies added several family-friendly activities in the concourse, including speed pitch. Such additions, however, could not hide the fact that the Vet was not designed with such activities in mind – an approach the designers of the new ballpark were certain to change.

Veterans Stadium Speed Pitch

As with just about every other multi-purpose ballpark, the Vets days were numbered, both literally and figuratively.

Only 644 Days Left Until the Death of Veterans Stadium

During the final two seasons of Veterans Stadium, the new ballpark, later named Citizens Bank Park, could be seen rising in a parking lot east of the Vet.

New Scoreboard Under Construction as Seen from Veterans Stadium

Although not visible from inside the ballpark’s seating bowl, construction of Citizens Bank Park was easily monitored standing along the outer concourse.

New Light Stanchions as Seen from Veterans Stadium

In late winter 2003 and early spring 2004, the Phillies and the City of Philadelphia put finishing touches on the new ballpark, while the Vet stat silently by, awaiting demolition.

The New and the Old

The end came quickly for Veterans Stadium. During the summer of 2004, fans were treated with live action views of the stadium’s demolition site as city workers carted away stadium debris.

Veterans Stadium Lies in Ruins, As seen From the Upper Deck of Citizens Bank park

Although the former site of Veterans Stadium is now a parking lot, the Phillies ballclub and City of Philadelphia have included several markers and monuments recognizing the lost ballpark. The entrance to parking area, Lot T, is a good place to start.

Lot T – Former Site of Veterans Stadium

A state historical marker pay tribute to significant milestones of Veterans Stadium.

Veterans Stadium State Historical Marker

The Phillies also relocated the Veterans Stadium dedication plaque to a garden on Pattison Avenue.

Veterans Stadium Dedication Plaque Relocated Along Pattison Avenue

Recognizing that the City of Philadelphia had dedicated Veterans Stadium in honor of Philadelphia’s veterans, the Phillies erected a new monument at the former site of Veterans Stadium as an “everlasting memorial to veterans who have defended America’s freedom since its inception in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. ”

Memorial to Philadelphia’s Veterans

The Phillies also restored four sports-themed statutes that once stood outside the entrances to Veterans Stadium. Designed and produced by Joe Brown, a Philadelphia native, the statues now ring the parking lot that sits atop the Vet’s former site.

Statutes of Ballplayers Produced in 1976 by Joe Brown

The statute of a player sliding into base sits along Pattison Avenue, while the statue of a batter sits across the parking lot on South 1oth Street.

Joe Brown’s Batter Statute

The Phillies also relocated between Citizens Bank Park and the site of Veterans Stadium a statute of former Philadelphia Athletics manager and owner Connie Mack. The statue dates to the 1950s and originally was located on Lehigh Avenue in a park across from Connie Mack Stadium.

Connie Mack Statute Sandwiched Alongside Porta-potties

Parking Lot U, Area 3, marks the spot of the Veterans Stadium infield.

Parking Area, Lot U

A granite marker sits in the former location of home plate .

No Place Like Home

The marker is located in a driving lane as opposed to a parking space.

Veterans Stadium Home Plate with Spectrum in Background
Veterans Stadium Home Plate with Citizens Bank Park in Background

The same is true for the pitchers mound, now flattened, which also resides in a Lot U driving lane.

Location of Veterans Stadium Pitching Rubber

The Phillies have marked the former location of each bases as well.

Location of Veterans Stadium First Base

The granite marker for third base provides baseball fans the unique opportunity of parking their cars atop the spot where Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt once roamed the hot corner. Let me just say what a thrill it was to park my car there. A tip for those who want to experience the same thrill – arrive early.

Third Base Parking Space

The one vestige of Veterans Stadium that remains, still in its original location, is an electronic Phillies sign visible from I-76 (the Schuylkill Expressway) that resides near the entrance to parking Lots W and X.

Veterans Stadium-Era Phillies Sign Still Standing

That sign likewise is visible from inside Citizens Bank Park, out beyond center field.

Citizens Bank Park with Veterans Stadium Sign Visible Beyond Center Field

The many tributes and monuments to Veterans Stadium are well worth a stop for baseball fans visiting Citizens Bank Park. The Vet may be long gone, but, thanks to the Phillies and the City of Philadelphia, she clearly has not been forgotten.

Byron Bennett