In November, 2008, following a media tour, I left Citi Field thinking it was very sterile, cold, ‘cookie cutter,’ and much too similar to PNC and Citizen’s Bank Park.
This is no longer the case.
Citi Field will have its own unique feel, and Mets fans are going to love it.
The organization continues to trumpet the words cozy and intimate.
However, I felt the opposite; and in a good way.
There will be a strong feeling of community in Citi Field, mark my words – more than was ever the case in Shea Stadium.
There are endless spots to hang out with friends, fans and family, grab a hot dog, grab a beer, watch the game, and walk around experiencing different angles and elements, with ease, and lots of freedom to move about, yet always feeling connected to the game and the team, which is unlike any ballpark I have been to. In fact, there are large, flat-panel monitors that can be easily be seen throughout the Promenades, so at any given moment you can look up, and catch a highlight or score from the ‘850 screens,’ and keep moving.
I always got lost in Shea Stadium. I attended 163 games in that building, yet even on the last day, I got lost trying to get from the Upper Deck to Field Level, because I kept using the wrong ramp.
In Citi Field, it is a breeze to get from right field to left field, or to get from the Promenade to the Field Level – all the while, should you need to, you can suddenly stop off, regardless of your ticket level, lean on any railing, and watch the on-field action.
That said, when you do stop and settle in your seat, the team is correct, Citi Field suddenly takes on a more intimate, cozy feeling.
Speaking of seats and angles, a) the seats are all slightly angled to face the field, which, until you actually sit and experience it, is hard to convey just how awesome and comfortable this is, and b), despite it feeling rhetorical, the team is correct, even when sitting in the worst seat in the house, I felt closer to the action than had been the case in a comparable seat in Shea.
The only concern I have will be for fans sitting behind home plate, up in Promenade Reserve, towards the back, because it appears, though you can see home plate, if there is a pass ball or a pop up behind home, the landing and railing may obstruct your view… I think.
There are plenty of bathrooms. However, what I think will limit long lines is not the actual number, but that each level, with their respective clubs, like the Delta Club, Cesars Club, etc., all have designated facilities, and so I believe there will be less of a mad rush with everyone scrambling for the restroom at one time and waiting. However, if you must wait, know there are big, flat-screen televisions above the door, so you can keep an eye on the game.
Speaking of the different, exclusive clubs, they are amazing, as are the suites and the press box, and the media room.
Fans who sit in a Promenade Club seat will have access to the Promenade Club, which has bistro dining, high top tables, restrooms, and a full bar and kitchen, and huge glass windows, that open, to see the field. This area is super nice.
Yes, we can still bring in sandwiches and food from home, to eat in our seats while watching the game. However, the ballpark will offer all sorts of food, including Taste of the City from Danny Meyer, which will include a Shake Shack and Blue Smoke, in addition to a Taqueria. There will also be Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, Crinkle Cut French Fries, Corn Dogs, Premio Sausage and Peppers, a Subway, Dunkin' Donuts with hot and iced coffee, your standard peanuts, pretzels, popcorn and Cracker Jacks, Carvel ice cream, Mama's of Corona, and Cascarino's Pizza, among other things.
The old Home Run Apple from Shea Stadium is on display beyond right field, behind the bullpens, in what is called the Bullpen Plaza, which is accessible to fans who enter the ballpark through the Right Bullpen gate from 126th Street. I think it’s interesting too that, after so many years of going to this area for baseball games, 126th Street is about to be more relevant and will become a big part of the fan’s lexicon.
Also, the bullpens are protected by black chain-link fencing, and fans can see through it to watch – or heckle, I would think, since the visitor’s pen is closest to the entrance, while the home pen is below the stands and closer to the field, where fans in their seats can look down on who is warming up.
Next to the bullpens, on the ground level, behind the right field wall, is the Mo Zone Party Suite, sponsored by Modells. It’s tremendous, and I cannot wait to try and organize a MetsBlog.com Get-Together for this space. There are high-tables, a bar and food service, all in one spot. I believe this will essentially replace what was the picnic area at Shea, though it services only 150 people.
Gigantic, black-and-white, Mets murals are hanging outside, also viewable from the inside, over the left-field entrance.
Beyond center field is a wide-open space, behind the massive scoreboard, where you will find Beer Island, Shake Shack, and other restaurants, including a kiddie field, with the same dimensions as the main field, but about 90 percent smaller, where ‘kids of all ages’ can rent the space and play wiffle ball with their face on a mini scoreboard. The concession stand here, which will be the Shack Shake, features the electronic skyline from the top of Shea Stadium’s scoreboard. This made me nostalgic.
The team takes a ton of pride in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda; but, honestly, while I can tell it will be impressive, there is still construction being done and it is difficult to get a sense of its power. That said, it’s fairly obvious this will be an easy meet-up spot before the game.
The fan-purchased bricks are set in to the ground in front of the Rotunda, and I can kick myself for not buying one.
What was I thinking?
Speaking of the Rotunda, it is the only element in the ballpark that references the Dodgers, and it is a more of an homage to the player and his accomplishments than anything to do with the team he played for. I say this because, on this site, I criticized Fred Wilpon for designing Citi Field in honor of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who he grew up cheering for. The thing is, once you move two feet beyond the Rotunda, you are clearly in the home of the Mets – there is nothing that will make you think otherwise. I jumped the gun, as did others. This Ebbets-Dodgers thing is no longer a concern for me.
Above the Rotunda, behind home plate, behind the Promenade seats, is a second wide-open, uncovered, gathering spot, again, where fans can collect, eat, drink and watch the games on TV, while walking from right to left field. This is a common theme, and, as someone who is too antsy to sit, it’s something I’m very excited about.
The view and experience from the Pepsi Porch will be unique. Technically, some of these seats are in play, because when sitting in the seat against the railing, when I stood up and looked down, I could see the warning track. The home run wall, technically, is beneath you, behind you, and out of view. There will be a bleacher-crowd mentality in this space, I believe. There is an outdoor, uncovered concession area behind the Porch seats, essentially cut off from the rest of the ballpark. This is a cool spot. I will be watching a lot of games from the Porch.
In short, what struck me most about the ballpark is the variety of experiences, elements and places to watch the game from. There is something for everyone, whether you’re looking to dress nicely and go to dinner; whether you’re a family of four looking for a day in the sun; whether you are a rabid fan, looking to be with other fans, or just sit and keep score; or whether you’re like me, anxious and jumpy and looking to wander around; you could go to Citi Field 10 times and have 10 different experiences, all with the Mets and a baseball game as the common theme.
To watch MLB.com’s Tour of Citi Field, go here.
To watch my video from Citi Field, go here.
To access the 50 hi-res photos from my tour, go here.