So yesterday, Joeadig and I hit our first game ever at “the Mets’ new home of Amazin’,” Citi Field. Unfortunately, the game we chose happened to see the Mets suffer the worst loss in the young history of the new ballpark, an 8-1 defeat at the hands of the lowly Washington Nationals, as Oliver Perez looks more and more like this year’s Luis Castillo. But we can talk about on-field matters another day…here is one man’s opinion of Citi Field:
The Jackie Robinson Rotunda
I like it – it gives Mets fans something that Shea Stadium lacked, which is a true universal gate for people to meet with friends to head on out to the game. It’s at the most convenient of locations, right off of the subway platform, and it has access to all levels, so it’s easy to get where you need to go fast from this entrance point. The homages to Jackie Robinson were nice, although I will admit I didn’t really look at them particularly closely. I hope this serves as a place for young fans throughout the life of the ballpark to learn more about how great Jackie Robinson was and how important he was.
The Mets Dugout Shop
I will admit – I was a bit underwhelmed. It’s huge, but I didn’t really see anything I felt like I had to get; nothing stood out to me as particularly must-buy, and considering this was my first time in the ballpark and I was in a spending mood, this was disappointing. Some of this stuff was insane – they had an autographed Wally Backman jersey available for the low, low price of $1,000. Who the heck likes Wally Backman that much that they have to spend $1,000 to get his autographed jersey? They also had a rack of jerseys featuring Mets no longer on the team (Heilman, Schoeneweis, Cancel, even Ken Oberfell in case anybody wanted the jersey of the 2008 second half Mets first base coach), but these didn’t appear to be marked down so the cost of owning that Gustavo Molina jersey was still $250. Interestingly, Pedro Feliciano’s jersey was on the rack, even though he is not yet a former Met.
The Pepsi Porch
Joe and I sat first row in the Pepsi Porch area right next to the foul pole, first row. I believe there is even a picture of the two of us posing next to the foul pole that perhaps one day we can show off over here. I enjoyed these seats quite a bit, even if the odds of us actually getting these seats again in our lifetimes are quite low. You get a really good view of the field of play itself. There was a foul ball that went to the section below us, and I thought we had an interesting viewpoint from where we sat of the projectory of the ball. I would definitely sit in that area again, although I do want to check out some of the other areas of the ballpark to see what they have to offer. The only low point; the only beer option I saw in that area was Coors Light, which is a terrible beer.
The Outfield Plaza
This is where you’re going to find your high-end food options…having walked around the stadium, the stands between the dugouts are pretty generic, your usual dogs, burgers, fries, and chicken fingers. In the outfield, you’ll find the World’s Fare area with the various tastes of New York, the Danny Meyer eateries, the Catch of the Day stand, and other tasty options. I decided to go with Blue Smoke and the pulled pork sandwich, while also trying the Box Frittes with the chipotle garlic dipping sauce. I enjoyed both quite a bit, although the pulled pork was a little dryer than I like (I only saw the freefloating BBQ stand with the extra sauce afterwards). Joe had the taco combo from the taco stand, and enjoyed the chicken and steak options, but did not like the fish and didn’t feel full after eating his tacos. I did think the pork sandwich was a little on the small side for $9, but it was still really good.
The Bullpen Plaza
Joe and I checked out this area after the Mets game got out of hand. We had our picture taken in front of the apple, another picture that will hopefully will make its way to the site one day. We didn’t stay long, so we didn’t really get to interact with the Nationals pitchers in the bullpen, and after our discussion of Doc Gooden last week, I decided not to reopen that can of worms by looking at the signed autograph wall with Joe (I will have to check that out another time). I’d like to sit in the Mo Zone for a game at some point, but I didn’t really investigate that much during the game.
I do think there was a cookie cutter aspect to the park, but ever since they showed the first designs of the ballpark, I have kind of expected that. To be honest, ever since Camden Yards, every new ballpark has had that same basic blueprint (in fact, I’m pretty sure Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia is a brick for brick replica of Camden Yards). That didn’t bother me much at all. At this point, that’s just the direction new baseball park construction has taken. It’s good for the teams, good for the fans of the teams, bad for the taxpayer who doesn’t give a crap about the teams (and not particularly great for the taxpayer that does, either).
As far as fan experience goes, it’s a better place to watch a game than Shea, though I do wish they had tried to figure out ways to get more fans into the ballpark. Obviously, I will be back again, and again, and again, and I will try other food options (the Shake Shack line was insane), check out parts of the ballpark I haven’t, sit in other seats, and have other experiences. Before, Mets fans had really three basic experiences; left field, right field, and bleachers, with various degrees of length from those areas. Citi Field gives you different looks, and I like that, it will be a year or two before I’ve seen everything there is to see about Citi Field.
I do think we will see more Mets stuff as the years progress, which seems to be a major complaint from other fans. I didn’t really notice or care much, to be honest. To me, I’ve always preferred a more subtle approach; I don’t need the Mets to beat over my heads when I enter the ballpark that this is the Mets’ home, like other teams seem to do. Shea never had to beat that over your head, either; other than the big banners near the various ramps leading you to and from the seating areas, where was the collection of Mets things there? I know it’s the home of the Mets, because that’s where the Mets play 81 games a year, and because what other ballpark has a giant Mets apple sticking out of a top hat? Mets fans need to stop having an inferiority complex about these things.
I’ve stated before that I’m a pretty big Shea diehard, and how I was sad to see it go, and how I even didn’t want to see it go. I still think the team could have given it a better go with Shea than it did, but I’m not going to harp on it, either. Shea is gone, I’m sad it’s gone, and though it was flawed, I loved it. That said, Citi Field is a better place to see a baseball game. Is it an $800 million better place to see a game than Shea Stadium? I guess that’s not for me to say, but Citi Field is an enjoyable place to watch baseball and to watch the Mets. Now, we just need to bring some good history into the new ballpark, some new signature moments that Mets fans will remember fondly, much like our great memories of Shea!