I’m annoyed that the Mets sold out to Citi and renamed the stadium. Sure, they got paid a decent chunk of change and they certainly needed some of it to help defray the costs of building the gorgeous new stadium, but what a way to treat the guy. Sad, really. Now that I’ve got that out of my system, on to a review of the new ballpark and facilities.
Just about everything I’d read up until my visit extolled the new facility. But I’d heard that all before with regard to the new Yankee Stadium across town and I wasn’t particularly impressed there so I was somewhat reserved in my hopes for the Mets’ new digs. I’m happy to say that the new CitiField actually does live up to the hype. It is a great facility for both the team AND the fans.
The Jackie Robinson Rotunda entryway is beautiful. Large and wide open, it is a welcoming way to get in to the park. For reasons I do not quite comprehend they didn’t have the escalators running down at the end of the game, so that was a mild annoyance, but otherwise quite nice there. I found the metalwork and exposed rafters rather cool to see. And they do a very good job of controlling the flow of people in the area to make sure that things keep moving.
Once inside and up on the concourse level the most striking thing is the width of the concourses. They are REALLY wide. And unlike Yankee stadium they aren’t cluttered with a gift shop every 30 feet. Indeed, while waiting in line at the majority of the food vendors we could still watch the game as the field remained visible. That is a very nice touch.
The sight lines in the new stadium are equally impressive. We had seats in section 115 so we pretty much assumed that the view would be great – and it was. Equally impressive to me, however, was the view from the outfield looking in. There are picnic table seating areas and other bleacher seats still had pretty good views of the ball field. The back row in the picnic area looked like it probably couldn’t see the field right below it, but the views were not nearly as bad as those obstructed by the bar out in center field at Yankee Stadium.
|Section 115, Row 4||Looking back in from the picnic tables in the outfield|
OK…so we did our walkaround and saw the various field views. Now on to the most important bit – the food!
|Cooking up a sandwich at Mama’s of Corona|
Like most new ballparks these days the Mets have incorporated a bunch of local vendors in their concessions. Out in right field there is a food court with Shake Shack ($5.75 burgers, $6.50 shakes), Blue Smoke ($9 pulled pork sandwich, $10 ribs), Box Frites ($6.50 for a large box w/dipping sauce) and El Verano Taqueria ($7.25 for two soft tacos). There are a couple different pizza places ($5.50-6.50 slices; $9.50 eggplant or chicken parm subs), Catch of the Day ($12.75 shrimp po’ boy, $17 lobster roll, $4.75 clam & corn chowder) and Mama’s of Corona ($9.75 Italian hoagie or grilled chicken salad)tucked into the back of a little bodega-style deli along the right field line (I had the turkey & fresh mozzarella, with gravy, and was quite pleased). The bodega was actually pretty cool and reminds me of what jetBlue did with the food court of their new T5 terminal at JFK. Lots of options and easy to get through, and everyone can have what they want. I’m a fan.
There are also the more traditional concessions available in the main concourse areas, like Nathan’s hot dogs ($4.75-$5.75), hamburgers ($5.75) and french fries ($4.75). I don’t know if the serving size is different or it is something else, but the Nathan’s fries at CitiField are less than half the calories of the Nathan’s fries at Yankee stadium. That’s just strange. There is also the kosher grill with hot dogs, knishes (both $4.75), sweet sausage ($7.25) and – my personal favorite – pastrami dogs ($6.50). Take an A&H kosher dog, grilled up fresh and top with a handful of thinly sliced pastrami that has been warmed/greased on the griddle. YUM! If only Rabbi Katz (his real name, according to his name tag) could cook them a bit faster; the line was a bit annoying.
Beer, beer, everywhere! The beer prices were a dollar or two lower than those at Yankee Stadium making it rather tolerable for stadium prices. A typical beer at the concessions was $5, with a large beer available for $6.25 (roughly the same price as a small beer in the Bronx) and specialty bottles for $7.50. The specialty selection was rather impressive. Out in the food court area of right field there was a dedicated kiosk for beer, and there was a LOT of it. Among the options available for your drinking pleasure: Bass, Beck’s, Beck’s Premium Light, Beck’s Dark, Budweiser (ok, not a premium, but it was on the same list), Bud American Ale, Bud Light, Bud Light Lime, Bud Select, Czechvar, Goose Island Honker’s Ale, Goose Island IPA, Harbin Lager, Hoegaarden, Kirin Ichiban, Kirin Light, Kona Longboard Island Lager, Leffe Blonde, Michelob Ultra, O’Doul’s, Red Hook, Rolling Rock, Staropramen Pilsner, Stella Artois, Tennet’s Lager, Tiger Beer and Widmer. Yeah, that’s a lot of beer. There were also some varietals on tap, including a Brooklyn Lager in the bar in the Ebbet’s club where we were sitting and Stella at a few scattered stands.
There is a huge kids play area out in right field, with batting cages for the bigger kids and a mini whiffle ball field for the little kids. There is a game room (PS3, I think, but I’m not certain) with arm chairs and baseball available to play, too. They even brought the old Home Run apple over and have it out on display so you can get a photo with it.
The game we were there for was pretty good, with Johan Santana pitching well through 6 or 7. Sadly, they brought in Putz (I really find it hard to believe that they signed a guy named Putz to play in NYC) and he managed to blow the lead pretty quickly so the Mets lost, but the day was still quite enjoyable.
I almost forgot one of my favorite parts of going to games out in Flushing – sitting under the path for takeoffs and landing at LaGuardia airport. One of several plane shots I got that day:
Between the better concessions, cheaper prices and better sight lines into the field I have to say that CitiField is much, much nicer for the fans than the Yankees new digs. I’ll still go to both, I’m sure, but the options and architecture in Queens win hands down from my perspective.
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