Enhancing the Fan Experience at
Citizens Bank Park

Off-season plaza renovations rely on field-applied Kynar Aquatec®-based coating to meet demands for accelerated construction and durable factory-like quality finishes.

Citizens Bank Park—the home of Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies—opened in 2004 and is rated one of the best ballparks in the country. Prior to the 2018 season, the team announced a major multi-year transformation of the stadium’s entry plazas to provide a more cohesive look and to enhance the game-day experience for fans of all ages.  

Perhaps one of the most exciting changes came in 2018 with the revamped left-field plaza, which became something of a shrine for fans to learn about and honor the team’s baseball history. The revitalized concourse also featured a new visually appealing boardwalk-themed food area—with concession stands colored in “Phillies Red”, naturally. This included a prominently branded Bull’s BBQ—named in honor of former slugger and fan favorite Greg "The Bull" Luzinski.

Accelerated Construction Challenges

There was a high sense of urgency in working on the plaza makeovers during the off-season in harsh outdoor winter conditions. Strict adherence to a four-month accelerated construction schedule was vital to ensure the large-scale renovations were completed prior to 2019 Opening Day at the stadium.   

For Robert Ganter Contractors, the timeline for installing Bull’s BBQ and the other concessions proved especially challenging. “We were the last to go in the plaza reconstruction and couldn’t wait 12 to 16 weeks for 4,200 square feet of metal panels, trim, and louvers to be produced with factory-baked custom-color finishes,” said Bob Ganter, vice president at Ganter Contractors. “To meet the fast-track schedule, we needed a field-applied coating that would expedite our work process, provide a high-quality aesthetic, and meet demanding performance specifications.”

Colorfastness a Top Priority

To ensure the new concessions retained their vibrant Phillies Red appearance for many years ahead, the team’s primary goal was to use a highly durable custom-color coating with exceptional color-retention and weathering-resistance properties. With brightly colored architectural structures, reds are notorious for their propensity to fade the fastest of all color shades.   

In search of an ideal solution, the team turned to the experts at locally based Acrymax Technologies for recommendations. “We have been working with Acrymax for many years and their long-lasting coatings produce a beautiful high-end quality finish,” said Harry Sioutis, project manager at Sioutis Coating Enterprise. “From an applicator’s point of view, their products are easy to work with and offer significant labor cost-saving benefits, as other coatings can take our crews double the amount of time to apply.”

Selected as the topcoat for the galvanized steel wall and roof panels was Acrymax AF-5500, which was precision blended to accurately match the custom Phillies Red color. The coating is based on Kynar Aquatec® PVDF emulsions, which provide similar long-lasting durability, extreme weatherability, and color-retention properties as to Kynar 500® PVDF resin-based coatings. Unlike factory-applied Kynar 500®-based coatings, waterborne coatings formulated with Kynar Aquatec® PVDF emulsions can be field applied to a variety of substrates. They also offer outstanding resistance to dirt, staining, algae, mold, and corrosion.

 

To ensure optimal color retention, Acrymax consulted with Dr. Kurt Wood, a scientist in Arkema Inc.’s Kynar® coatings R&D group in King of Prussia, PA, where the Kynar Aquatec® technology was developed. With hundreds of test panels in a rainbow of colors on exposure in Florida for as long as 20 years, Wood was able to recommend red pigments that would provide multi-decade color retention in Kynar Aquatec® formulations. The test panels shown here illustrate the outstanding fade-resistance of Kynar Aquatec® (left) versus urethane coatings (right) after 13 years exposure in Florida.

 

Indoor Coating Application Goes Smoothly

Because of the region’s freezing winter temperatures, it was not possible to apply the Acrymax AF-5500 coating to the concession structures after they were assembled outdoors. To overcome this obstacle and ensure the coating would cure properly, the team set up indoor controlled heating workspaces—at the stadium and at Ganter facilities—to precoat the metal wall and roof panels prior to their installation.   

The process started with cleaning the metal profiles with pressure washers to remove dirt and other contaminants and then etching the surfaces to ensure proper coating adhesion. Next, one coat of Acrymax PC-125 waterborne primer was applied to both sides of the metalwork and then lighted sanded. As the final step, two topcoats of the Kynar Aquatec®-based AF-5500 product were spray applied to provide a uniform and continuous finish over the entire surface. The coated metal profiles were then left to air dry in the controlled heated environment. “The AF-5500 coating was consistent, sprayed well, and air dried quickly, which are what’s nice about working with the product,” Sioutis said.  

Stunning On-Time Transformation

Fans were greeted with several surprises at Citizens Bank Park when they arrived for Opening Day in 2018. The dramatic renovations to the left-field plaza were completed with time to spare, and Bull’s BBQ and other Phillies vendors were ready to go in catering an exciting new gameday experience.

“The new vibrant Phillies Red concession area looks fantastic and will long shine as a symbol of Phillies resilience and pride,” said Ganter. “The durable Acrymax AF-5500 product provided us with a great time-saving solution and a beautiful factory-like finish in a field-applied coating that will stand the test of time.” 

With the makeover of the left-field concourse finished, the team turned to renovating 24,500 square feet of space adjacent to the Third Base Plaza. Completed in the offseason prior to the 2019 season, the revamped concessions experience includes a beer garden, family-friendly food venues, and much more. When fans arrive, they are greeted by vibrant custom retro green and maroon team colors on 3,000 square feet of exteriors made possible by Acrymax’s Kynar Aquatec®-based AF-5500 coating.

“Our company—as well as the partners we collaborated with—take great pride in our custom work for the Philadelphia Phillies,” said Eric Bennung, vice president at Acrymax. “From custom-color matches to small-batch production quantities, these projects had many moving parts that were executed flawlessly with top-notch Kynar Aquatec® resins from Arkema, superior coating manufacturing by Acymax, high-quality coating applications by Sioutis, and seamless installation by Ganter Contractors.”

In this multiyear series of renovations, the Philadelphia Phillies delivered an exciting new game-day experience for fans of all ages. In recognition of this significant accomplishment, the project was singled out for the very first Best Continual Ballpark Improvement award from Ballpark Digest.     

 

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