Citi Field? Feh.
The Mets have played in cookie-cutter Shea Stadium since 1964 and they feel they need something new. Interestingly, they’re growing smaller, ensuring more sellouts, and the basic design for the new stadium evokes old Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. What I find interesting about this is that the team is based in Queens, an entirely different borough. Still, the Mets were born in the void left when the Dodgers and the New York Giants abandoned New York City for the west coast.
Even though they broke ground four months ago on the new Mets stadium, the Wilpons had a ground breaking ceremony in the Shea Stadium parking lot yesterday. The event was to call attention to the $20 million a year naming rights that had been secured by Citibank and to also give Jackie Robinson his due by naming the forthcoming rotunda after him.
Among the dignitaries in attendance was outgoing Governor George Pataki who admitted to his Yankee bias. He even showed how incredibly ill-prepared he was by referring to the west coast move as an event from the 1960s. Sheesh.
The new ballpark, scheduled to open in time for the 2009 season, will be named Citi Field. Given the choices Citibank surveyed, this one is fairly inoffensive. (OK, I take a lot of online surveys and one happened to be all about how I felt about Citibank being the sponsor and picking names. I thought selling naming rights was silly since they did little to lower my ticket prices. Since Citibank had no previous relationship with the Mets and that MLB is affiliated with Bank of America, I thought it sounded bad. The names were also fairly bad to merely pedestrian.) The entire naming rights thing has drained the personality out of ballparks. You had names like Solider Field or Jack Murphy Stadium, names that meant something. In the past decade, a lot of the corporations that overspent for naming rights changed hands or went out of business so something cool like the BOB (Bank One Ballpark) suddenly became Chase Field (yawn).
There’s no question Shea was aging and impersonal. Still, it had one of the best organized scoreboards I’d seen across the country and it’s where I’ve been going to games since I was a wee lad. It’ll take quite some time before saying “We’re going to Opening Day at Citi Field” sounds the least bit comfortable.
My team came really close this season and is already laying the ground work for 2007. Re-signing Jose Valentin was a somewhat surprising move but he certainly deserved consideration and pairing him with someone a little younger and with a little more pop in his bat wouldn’t be such a terrible move.
In one of those poetic justice moments, they open the new season on Sunday, April 1, a night game in St. Louis, facing the very team that prematurely ended the quest for the World Series. I can’t wait.