Empty nesters downsize to townhouse just two blocks from downtown

Phillies fan enjoys Vet stadium seats
Mike and Christy Holland with their two seats from the old Philadelphia Phillies stadium.
Mike and Christy Holland with their two seats from the old Philadelphia Phillies stadium.

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Mike and Christy Holland raised their four kids in a large five-bedroom house off of Lake Avenue in Saratoga Springs. They had a huge lawn with plenty of room for kids and pets to play. But when their children grew up and left home, the Hollands wanted to downsize and move closer to downtown.

The couple was watching when Bonacio Construction was building a row of spacious townhouses just two blocks from downtown, and when they became available, the Hollands jumped at the chance to relocate. “We didn’t need all of this space and we wanted to downsize,” Mike Holland said.

The move is not unusual for couples with an empty nest. They don’t have need of a large house anymore, and living downtown or close to it opens up a whole new set of possibilities. “Saratoga has a beautiful downtown,” Holland said. “There are great restaurants and entertainment and all sorts of stuff going on.”

And all of it is within walking distance. In fact, Holland said that when they first moved there, they didn’t have to drive at all. They just walked or rode their bikes.

158 High Rock Ave, in Saratoga Springs, home of Mike and Christy Holland on Friday, September 21, 2018.Photo by Erica Miller/Gazette Photographer: Home of Mike and Christy Holland at 158 High Rock Ave. in Saratoga Springs on Friday, September 21, 2018.

While some furniture had to go in the move, there was one piece that was a must to take with them to the new home — a pair of stadium seats from the old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. When the Hollands aren’t out and about enjoying downtown, you might find them in the backyard of their home, relaxing in the pair of stadium seats, indulging in a bit of nostalgia and team pride.

Veterans Stadium was home to Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies and the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles from 1971 to 2003. The Hollands are fans of both teams and have been since before they wed in 1983. “We went to games all the time in the stadium,” Holland said. 

Read more stories from Fall Home 2018.The night before they flew to Mexico for their honeymoon, the couple stayed in Philadelphia and went to a game.

In 2003, both teams played their last games in the stadium, as there were plans to build new stadiums for each team, Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field. Veterans Stadium would be demolished the following year.

When Christy found out that the Phillies were selling the stadium seats, she decided they would be a great gift for her husband on their twentieth wedding anniversary.

Still awaiting the arrival of the actual seats, Christy gave Mike an anniversary card. Inside, he found a certificate of authenticity for a pair of the signature blue stadium seats. A couple of weeks later, when Mike’s brother was in Philadelphia for business, he picked them up and brought them to the couple. He liked them so much that he decided to purchase a pair for himself.

People do enjoy having a piece of history in their homes. In the past decade, stadium chair dealers have seen an increase in popularity of this kind of décor. Steve Archer, owner of Archer Seating in Vineland, New Jersey, said that it is usually women who purchase the stadium seats. “They buy them for their husbands, fathers or sons, because that’s who used to take them to the ballpark,” he said.

Coincidentally, Archer’s company’s first job was to remove the terra cotta-colored seats from Veterans Stadium in 1995. They were replaced by the blue seats, two of which the Hollands have in their backyard. Later, Archer Seating ended up with the leftover seats after the Phillies sold the blue ones in 2003. 

Stadium seats make their rounds. Archer remembers a call from a representative of Salem Municipal Field in Salem Virginia, who wanted his company to remove the stadium’s wooden seats and put in 1,000 newer seats. Stadium staff thought they were seats from Yankee Stadium, but it turned out that they were seats from McNearney Stadium in Schenectady, where the Schenectady Blue Jays, an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, played from 1946 to 1957.

Archer Seating removed the seats from Camden Yards when the stadium closed. “They are all over the country,” Archer said. “They got scattered to the four winds — literally all over the place.”

He’s currently working on a job for the Washington Capitals, still flying high from their Stanley Cup win.

For fans who are looking for a bit of nostalgia, that means that the seats they want can probably be found. An Internet search for “vintage stadium seats for sale” nets a plethora of companiess offering seats from a variety of sports teams. People use them by the pool, in their foyers, in man caves, and as computer chairs. Some people even have them converted to bar stools.

For the Hollands, the stadium seats not only are a tribute to their love for their Philadelphia sports teams, but also as a sentimental reminder of when they were falling in love.

Want to go vintage?

Stadium seats, as well as their cousin, the theater seat, are becoming an increasingly popular interior design feature. Either in their original conditions, refurbished or reimagined with brightly colored paint and new fabric, people are finding new ways to incorporate the old.

Sean Walsh of Original Stadium Seats began selling old, mostly twentieth century vintage stadium seats in 1987. For most people, it represents a piece of their childhood, he said. Eighty percent of his inventory of roughly 300 stadium seats are of the old wooden type. Aisle seats, with a team’s logo, are particularly popular, Walsh said.

“A lot of people want them in the original conditions, with some gum stuck to the bottom and stuff,” Walsh said.

Theater seats, because they were used indoors, can be found in wood, leather, or upholstery. 

Because they fold up, they could be used in tight spaces, such as a hallway, for extra seating as needed. 

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