Good Article today in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/05/sports/baseball/05stadium.html?_r=1&ref=sports
I was fortunate to get a ticket to the St. Johns -Georgetown game at the end of the month. It will be exciting to be at the first game at the new park, regardless who plays.
Shea was a great place. All the bashing and shortcomings people make of it, well, that's their loss.
Sure, I once sat in the last row of the loge in left field and couldn't see an outfielder (or two). Did I care? NO! I was at a baseball game.
The excitement is back. I'm worried about Santana's elbow a bit, but, let's face it, I rather he be safe and someone else pitch than to rush it for pomp and circumstance.
Before you read Belson and Sandomir's article, repeat this soothing mantra (NO, It is not "ommmmmmm" it's LET'S GO METS!
March 5, 2009
The Mets’ New Home: Call It the Anti-Shea
By KEN BELSON and RICHARD SANDOMIR
For those fans who hated Shea Stadium, fear not: Citi Field is nothing like its predecessor, the last bits of which lie in ruins a few hundreds yards away.
The Mets’ new park, which will open its doors for a Georgetown-St. John’s game March 29, is far more intimate than Shea and corrects some of the old stadium’s worst faults.
Citi Field will hold about 42,000 fans, 15,000 fewer than Shea. The park is enclosed and many seats wrap around the outfield, so it feels much cozier than Shea’s open-ended bowl, which favored watching football.
During an extensive tour of Citi Field on Tuesday, Jeff Wilpon, the team’s chief operating officer, spoke in the Acela Club, a restaurant in left field that will have 550 seats, table service, a bar and wine cabinets for frequent patrons.
“There’s all this light and air, and then you’re looking back at the field,” Wilpon said. “We want to make people feel they’re in a living room.”
The seats throughout the stadium are angled toward the center of the infield, reducing the need for fans, particularly on the field level, to crane their necks toward home plate.
Sitting in their seats, few fans will see the chop shops in Willets Point, the cars roaring past on the Van Wyck Expressway, the subway yards to the south or the U-Haul sign. They will still get a crystal-clear view of the planes on their final approach to La Guardia Airport. Some things never change.
Citi Field has many nooks and crannies that are nothing like Shea’s tired symmetry. The grandstand that hangs over right field, for instance, was inspired by the old Tiger Stadium, which Wilpon visited with his grandparents as a child. Fans in center field will get a bull’s-eye view of the bullpens, with Aaron Heilman only in the visitors’ half, which is on a slightly raised level, with some protection from fan saliva.
The 16-foot wall that rings much of the outfield means an Endy Chávez-like catch is unlikely, though.
Going for food or a bathroom break will be a lot easier. The concourses are far wider, bathrooms are more numerous and beer drinkers will not have to wander far for a microbrew. Gabila’s knishes will return thanks to convection ovens. (The old knishes were fried, which helps explain the heartburn they generated.)
The chance of a plumbing malfunction has also been reduced: the Mets have installed waterless urinals, an eco-friendly touch.
The walk from the subway station to Citi Field’s front entrance will take about as long as it took to reach Gate E at Shea, but an acre of planters, trees and other landscaping will usher fans to the new park’s brick exterior and ornate rotunda named for Jackie Robinson. Bricks embedded in the capacious plaza include inscriptions from fans who paid $195 to $345 for the privilege. Several applications were rejected because the language was deemed insulting of New York’s other baseball team.
Citi Field’s exterior is a splendid architectural response to the dullness of Shea, while the inner bowl is muted. Shea’s candy-colored plastic seats are gone (along with generations of chipped paint on the handrails) in favor of dark green seats everywhere.
“Dark green is the color of a classic ballpark,” said Dave Howard, the team’s executive vice president for business operations, as he stood ankle deep in snow. “And we thought the other team in town would use blue.”
Citi Field, with 28 different seating categories, also feels more fragmented than Shea, which had sections of box and reserved seats that stretched from one foul pole to the other. The collection of far smaller blocks of luxury suites, party rooms, restaurants and exclusive box seats spells exclusivity or exclusion, depending on your point of view.
Everything has a new name, as well. There’s the Ebbets Club, the Delta Sky360 Club and the Caesars Club. Seaver, Hodges and Stengel have their names on three of the five party suites. The name game is not done, either.
“In this economy, you don’t turn down sponsors,” Wilpon said. “Anyone who’s willing to pay. ...”
The suites, apparently, will not be just for baseball. Howard said that the club had already booked bar mitzvahs in the Caesars Club. A 150-seat auditorium could host corporate events.
While all the major construction is finished, many little touches remain. The kitchens are filled with refrigerators and even French fry baskets, but much of the equipment is unplugged, out of position and covered with layers of dust.
The much-improved sound system and scoreboards were getting a workout. A version of Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” played loud and clear. The LED scoreboards that line the facades were ready for June. One read: “David Wright .320 AVG 15 HR 66 RBI.”
Wilpon said the team had not decided who would throw out the first pitch on opening day April 13. But he said it would be great if President Obama did it on Jackie Robinson Day two nights later.
With the sun setting, dozens of employees were waiting in the parking lot next to the park before their orientation sessions. Gary Brown, who worked at a concession stand for two years at Shea, said he and his friend Faruk Stokes were looking forward to their new workplace.
“Any type of progress is a good thing,” said Brown, who lives in Corona, Queens. “It’s a beautiful facility. I just hope the team is more successful here.”