Ah, my first trip to Citi Field. I have the 15-game Friday pack, and it is the first time I have ever had a ticket plan with the Mets. My tickets are in Left Field in the Promenade Level. The ticket is $20 per game.
There is plenty of parking, with about 14,000 less seats and the more spots available due to the construction being completed this makes it easier to get to Citi Field by car. Be prepared to pay $18 to park. I like to park by the Marina, it is the easiest way out after the game. If you can take the 7 train, it’s only about a 15 minute trip from Grand Central Station.
Shea is nothing but a square piece of dirt right now. Only the memories remain. Many of those memories are shown around the walls of Citi Field, which does have an Ebbets Field facade to it.
Anything was better than Shea. This is true on so many levels. Escalators that work perfectly, there are even elevators, and the support staff at Citi Field are nice and friendly, and you almost forget you are in New York City. They must have hired a 1,000 people. Luckily, most of the people that worked at Shea seem to be living at Shady Acres.
This place is about the concession stands. They surround the concourses. The prices were about the same as Shea. The food options were robust. I ate before the game. A hot dog is $4.75, $6.50 to $7.50 for a beer, there are burger places, pizza, sausage & peppers, tacos, burritos, etc. Behind Center field is the Shake Shack that is very popular with even more options. The one problem with that place is that the scoreboard blocks your view of the field while you are there. It was cool to see the old Mets sign with the NYC skyline above it that used to be over the old Shea scoreboard.
Bill Veeck once said that, “The knowledge of the game is inversely proportional to the price of the seat.” He said this decades ago long before there would be 5 levels of club seating, seat licenses, waitress service to seat, etc. God, if he was alive today, what he would say. There are 5 Clubs at Citi Field, a different one for the ticket you hold. I do not have access to any of them. I have sat in Club Seats before, it is nice, but it is only good if you get free food with your ticket. Most of the Clubs at Citi do not give you free food. The real Met fans who probably sat in the Orange and Blue Levels in the past have mostly migrated to the top. The infamous Cow-Bell Man is up with us. Most of the “Let’s Go Mets” chants started with our sections, the people who paid 3 figures for the seats seemed content to sit on their hands, and hope the Mets win by at least 2 points.
My seat is no wider than it was at Shea, but there is more leg room and cup holders at every seat. And the rows are situated where you can see over someone regardless of height instead of looking between people’s shoulders. I am in the 6th row of section 534, I have a very nice view of the field, every seat faces home plate, which was something that was an adventure at Shea where you had to turn your body to see the pitcher. The height of my seat is about the equivalent to the Mezzanine level at Shea, so the view is not necessarily a nose bleed view. There are obstructed views and my seats are not immune from that. Because the seats overlap the Left Field wall, anything hit to the wall cannot be seen below you. I knew this when I bought my tickets, but, I wanted to be part of this place, and I was not going to spend thousands to get the perfect seat.
It is not a big deal to me that the seats are green and the wall is black. Everyone will learn to live with that. The Phillies have blue seats and a green wall at their park which does not really match their colors either. I would have rather seen a nice design built into the seats like the ones that exist for the Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles and Manchester United.
The Jackie Robinson Rotunda is very nice, but it is 45 years too late. This should have been part of Shea and not Citi Field. The Mets have 47 years of history on their own. Yes, most of it is tragic and laughable, but some it is actually historic. The Mets are only one of three teams since the 1962 expansion to capture multiple World Series titles. The Blue Jays and the Marlins are the other two, and the only team to capture 4 Pennants. While, I am huge Brooklyn Dodger fan, I am in the 90 per cent majority who was not alive to see Jackie play. I would say only about 2 or 3 per cent of last night’s attendance actually saw a game at Ebbets Field, my father, who is 68, is in that 2 or 3 per cent.
While Dodger fans loved Jackie, he was not their favorite Dodger, the fans of dem Bums favorites were Pee Wee Reese, the most beloved, the Duke of Flatbush, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, who also managed the Miracle Mets (and should be in the Hall of Fame!), Roy Campanella, and the Reading Rifle, Carl Furillo were all more popular in Brooklyn than #42. What I would have done with the Rotunda would be to incorporate all 3 New York National League teams, the Dodgers, the Giants, and the Mets into one. The Field does not really have much at all in terms of Mets items associated with it. The banners hang from high flag poles out in Right Field and are hardly noticeable. Citi Field almost makes the Mets feel like a first-year expansion team with hardly any history. Now, I am not saying we needed to make a Benny Agbayani, Mel Rojas, or Tsuyoshi Shinjo Rotunda, but I think true Met fans wanted to see pictures of Tom Terrific, Doc, Darryl, the Kid, I’m Keith Hernandez, Ronny Darling, Mike Piazza, Johnny Franco, Gil Hodges, Davey, and some pictures of today’s Mets stars adorn the building. Everyone likes to wax poetic about Brooklyn, and it is a special place, and the borough is making a renaissance, but if Brooklyn was so great, how come the team moved just 2 years after a championship. You can blame Walter O’Malley and the city all you want, but attendance numbers dwindled, and the Trolley Dodgers are never coming back. We have the Mets, and the true fans bleed orange and blue, not blue and white. I look at the New England Patriots, a team that has been around for the same number of years, and with actually less history, now has a new stadium, a team Hall of Fame, a shopping area called Patriot Place, pretty good ticket prices except for the Club Seats, and that place is all about the Patriots. Citi Field should be all about the Mets.
Now to the actual game, seeing Gary Sheffield hit his 500th Home Run was special, and only done 24 other times, but what made it even more memorable was that it tied the game. A game that the Mets were cruising after the first inning, but fell asleep for the next 6 innings and trailed 4-3. Gary’s pop off the bench gave the Mets a spark that in recent years was sorely missing. The bullpen was tremendous, keeping the Brewers off the scoreboard for 4 innings, and Luis Castillo, a cross to bear for Met fans, comes through again in ’09 with a walk-off winning RBI infield single.
The crowd was about 36,000, last night, about 6,000 short of a sellout. Unfortunately, I think there will be fewer sellouts due to the high ticket prices, and that the celebs and CEO’s that that the Wilpons thought would flock to the park, are here, but the demand was not overwhelming, due to the economy and the greed of the Wilpons’ favorite season ticket holder, Bernie “Arthur Ponzarelli” Madoff.
I will be making a trip to the new Yankee Stadium this season; I drove past it last night, and it looks jaw droppingly good. I will have a write up about the $1.6 Billion new Coliseum for the Bombers. I think the Mets $800 Million was pretty well spent, it will take a while to get used to the home field, but it is our home, and hopefully the memories, like the one I had last night, will add to the Ulti-Met times to come.