Checking out Citi Field
We’ve been looking forward to Citi Field, henceforth still called by me as Shea Stadium since construction began. Driving over the Whitestone Bridge Sunday morning, we looked for a new silhouette to replace the familiar one but couldn’t quite spot it. When we did see it coming over a rise on the Whitestone Expressway, it looked odd.
Arriving just over two hours before game time meant little traffic coming south and no problem finding parking. There were even people directing us, polite people at that, and more than I ever recall handling traffic.
Walking across the parking lot to the stadium, it’s clearly designed to fit in with one of New York’s boroughs. I could easily see taking a subway or trolley to arrive at the park so it looked just a tad out of place. We did stroll the entire exterior and noted various digital boards letting people driving by know there was game, who the Mets were playing and so on.
Our loop around Citi Field noted the many billboards plastered around the exterior and then we wound up at the main entrance known as the rotunda, the part designed to evoke memories of Ebbets Field, one time home to the Dodgers and still fondly recalled by our Greatest Generation. In front of the entrance were the memorial bricks and we easily found the one Bob & Laurie Rozakis so kindly purchased in Robbie’s memory. We took pictures and one day our software will allow me to actually post pictures here.
Within the rotunda were the elements saluting Jackie Robinson and his accomplishments along with the main Mets Clubhouse store. We went browsing within and ran into Patti & Gerry Mucha, the only people who were bigger Mets fans in Fairfield than us. Their daughter Allie and Kate are close chums, too. It was their fist game at the new stadium, too, and we were marveling over the amenities.
We wandered every level, checking out the shops, the food options, the views, etc. Once we took in the field, I noted how many more nooks and crannies there were for advertisements. Given the $20 million a year from Citibank, plus the interior and exterior ads, one would think their ticket, parking and concession prices would be more moderate. Instead, parking was up to $18 and the food was ridiculously overpriced (a bag of Cracker Jack I bought at Stop & Shop for $.99 yesterday, sold for $4.75 today).
The food choices, though, are vastly improved and we sampled a Blue Smoke pulled pork sandwich that was damned impressive. Thanks to fellow Fairfielder Michael Hahn, I was steered towards the link sausage which was as good as usual.
The stadium feels smaller, which makes sense since there’s less foul territory and 10,000 fewer seats. Unlike the cold Shea, this was idiosyncratic and successfully made you feel like this was a cozier environment for baseball. There were two video scoreboards and mini-boards ringing the stadium so you could follow the game, out-of-town scores, and see plenty of ads.
Our seats were in one of the key areas that was different: our seats were in the outfield. Shea, er Citi, has seating in a full circle so we were in the “Excelsior” section just to the left of center (I expected Stan Lee to be greeting us at the top of the escalator). Our view was nice but far from perfect so plays deep in the outfield, such as the doubles and Mike Cameron’s homerun, were missed requiring us to see the scoreboard replay.
We settled in about half an hour before the game and were comfortable. Michael Amante, a recording artist and regular, sang the National Anthem and some Union guy tossed the first pitch. The game unfolded over the next 3:03 and we watched an ineffective Mets team. Despite double-digit hits, they managed a mere two runs despite hittable pitching from Jeff Suppan. Not that the Mets’ Nelson Figueroa was much better. Both fell behind in the count a lot, neither impressive. Still, they gutted it out and the Brewers scratched out four runs.
My team? Once again, they left too many men on base and couldn’t capitalize on opportunities. Bases loaded and one out? Sure enough, a double play. Sigh. It was a dispiriting game to see such lackluster pitching and offense.
Our first experience at the new Shea was a pleasant enough one. We enjoyed ourselves, the weather didn’t betray us and the team could have done better. What a shame.