Citi Field – New York Mets
In the Citi
Opened in 2008 and positioned between the U.S. Open tennis arenas and auto-body shops of Flushing, Queens, Citi Field is a physical celebration of New York City baseball. Its outer facade is designed to reflect Ebbets Field, former home of the long-departed Brooklyn Dodgers. Its main entrance, the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, salutes a man who played neither for this franchise nor in this borough, but is nonetheless more than deserving of the honor. The brick and dark-marbled concrete concourses offer brilliant views of the field from all levels, and images of Mets legends past and present are unavoidable all over the ballpark. While the stadium’s name suggests that of a standard-issue, cold separation of dollar from fan (the $400 million naming rights agreement struck with Citibank amid the bank’s massive 2008 government bailout doesn’t help in this regard), there is an unmistakable warmth to Citi Field. It is, quite simply, a fun and inviting place to watch baseball. Citi Field is what a ballpark should be.
Food & Beverage 5
Citi Field’s food and beverage offerings are second to none. While standard stadium options like hot dogs and chicken tenders are available, they are blown out of the park by local favorites like Blue Smoke bbq, Fuku spicy chicken sandwiches, Pat LaFrieda’s burgers and steak sandwiches, Shake Shack burgers (complete with endless lines than can cost more than an inning to wait through), Two Boots pizza, and much, much more. The Foxwoods club (located on the 300 level behind home plate with sweeping views of the NYC skyline) requires special access and boasts Rao’s meatballs and Pressed by Josh Capon grilled cheese sandwiches. The Promenade Club, located on the 500 level overlooking home plate, offers Arancini Brothers rice balls, Dan & John’s wings, Nuchas Empanadas, and more.
A large picnic area sits behind the Promenade Club on the 500 level, flanked by concession stands and another Big Apple Brews location. The Acela club in the left field 300-level offers a full buffet, with seats overlooking the field available for an extra charge.
Reservations are generally required and, frankly, this is not worth it with so many tasty options available elsewhere in the park for less money. A full bar with beer, wine, and liquor overlooking the field sits at the entrance to the Acela Club (special access required), and is a good place to hide out during a rain shower.
Citi Field’s beer selections are equally impressive, anchored by the four-sided Big Apple Brews stand in center field boasting dozens of craft beers as well as standard mass-market domestics. Select brews are available at concession stands throughout the concourses as well, and in the clubs mentioned above. Full bars are located in the Foxwoods Club, the Delta Club (100-level behind home plate), and the 300-level concourse on the third base line.
While the food and beverage prices certainly reflect the standards of the New York metro area, most offerings are more than worth it. The spicy chicken sandwiches from famed Momofuku restauranteur David Chang’s Fuku in right field, in particular, are absolutely to die for (sauce included and delicious but absolutely not necessary).
The team’s fortunes improved greatly during the 2015 season, culminating in a World Series appearance, and the general atmosphere at the stadium has reflected the uptick in performance. The dark cloud that hung over this franchise for nearly three decades has shifted, though maybe temporarily, as young aces Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom, Matt Harvey, and Steven Matz have risen to prominence.
While the atmosphere at Citi Field has never been an abjectly negative one, the increased probability of seeing a home win has brought with it a friendlier, more positive vibe. Think what you will of the nightly occurrence of The Wave at Citi Field, but it’s not something that happens at a morose ballpark. The Billy Joel “Piano Man” singalong in the 8th inning also contributes to the positive atmosphere.
Outside the stadium sits a large apple similar to the famed Home Run Apple in center field, and there is often a festival-like atmosphere near the main entrances on game days with radio stations broadcasting remotely, street performers looking to make an extra buck, and other various activities for the kids. Images of Mets past and present adorn flags hanging from light poles and the building itself, and customized bricks on the ground create a broad walkway around the building.
Citi Field has something for everyone. For baseball historians, the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and adjacent Mets Hall of Fame & Museum offer a fun diversion before the game. The in-game promotions and entertainment segments include trivia, kids racing from the left field wall to third base and back, a race of four cars from center field to first base (similar to the Milwaukee Brewers’ famed sausage race) and more than a few appearances from the First Couple of Mets Baseball, Mr. and Mrs. Met. Kids are more than welcome, and many of the Mets pre-game giveaways and post-game activities (such as running the bases) are geared towards the younger set. Out in Center Field, a miniature wiffle ball park and a dunking booth with a speed gun provide further entertainment for young fans (and older ones mistakenly convinced they can throw as hard as a big leaguer). The Shea Bridge, a salute to the old stadium located in right-Center Field, is a great place to meet up with friends and have a beverage from Big Apple Brews.
On the field, what used to be a pitcher’s park second only to San Diego has become much more hitter-friendly, as the walls have been gradually moved in over the years to produce more home runs. The outfield wall runs in a meandering line that makes little sense to the eye, with home plate sitting 335 feet from left, 408 from center, and 330 from right. The foul poles are orange instead of the standard yellow, a nod to Shea Stadium.
While the immediate vicinity of Citi Field is essentially a large parking lot, a chop shop ghetto that should be avoided at all costs (literally in the shadows of the stadium just beyond right field) and the U.S. Open tennis stadium complex that goes unused much of the year, there is slightly more than meets the eye within walking distance of the stadium. The vast Flushing Meadows Corona Park, home of the 1940 and 1965 World’s Fairs, sits just past the tennis facilities and contains the Queens Museum, the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Zoo, and multiple mini-golf courses. The vast Citi Field parking lots are also great for pregame tailgating. Planes take off and land at nearby LaGuardia airport throughout the game, regularly passing directly over the stadium. There isn’t much food and beverage available, however, aside from a McFadden’s bar located on the outside of the stadium in Center Field.
These folks have been through quite a lot, and even the recent successes haven’t quite changed the fatalistic attitudes of the Flushing Faithful. That said, the low expectations of the fans (even with a recent pennant) create a fairly jovial atmosphere. There’s a certain sense of togetherness created by the fanbase, and many in the crowd are quite knowledgeable about the team’s history. The team has multiple noteworthy “Super Fans,” including Pin Man (who wears hundreds of Mets pins on a custom jersey), Cowbell Man (self-explanatory), and The Seven Line Army. The Seven Line Army, founded by lifelong fan Darren Meenan, regularly takes over the entire center field section of the stadium in matching t-shirts, cheering boisterously and banging thunder sticks throughout the game. This group has attended road games together in most MLB stadiums, and items from Meenan’s clothing line (The Seven Line), are available for sale in a concession stand located in Center Field, as well as t-shirt tosses throughout the game.
The famed 7 Line of the MTA subway system runs directly to Citi Field, with its station sitting less than a football field’s length from the entrance to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. The train generally runs express on game days, getting from Times Square in Manhattan to Citi Field in 20 minutes or so (also stopping at Grand Central Station). When running local, the train can take 40 minutes or more from Times Square to Citi Field and become quite crowded. The Port Washington Line of the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) runs from Penn Station to Citi Field in 15 minutes or so and serves as a great backup option when the 7 train is not operating correctly. Citi Field is the closest major team to Long Island (Queens is technically on Long Island, but don’t say that to any Queens natives), and is located just off the Long Island Expressway.
The vast parking lots provide easy access and exit without too much congestion. LaGuardia airport is located very close by, and can be accessed by taking the 7 to Junction Boulevard (one stop towards Manhattan on an express train, three on a local) and transferring to the Q72 bus. An Uber, however, is a much more convenient option and, given the proximity of the airport, not significantly more expensive.
The stadium is completely handicapped accessible, with elevators and ramps readily available and many areas designated for wheelchair seating. There are plenty of restrooms all over the stadium, though a recent Beyonce concert produced complaints of a lack of stalls in the women’s bathrooms. The concourses throughout the stadium are broad and generally not congested once the game begins.
Return on Investment 4
While the food and beverage inside the stadium can be quite expensive, the Mets have quite possibly the best bang for your buck of any team in the New York City. The team runs various ticket promotions all season (with plenty of BOGO and No Extra Fees deals), and secondary market tickets for most games can be purchased for very cheap if you buy them on game day (be aware that StubHub sales cut off two hours before the game, though other secondary market sites are not subject to this restriction). The best values can be found in the lower rows of the 400 level in the infield, which look directly down on home plate and give a great view of entire field. For a bit more money, the 100-level seats near each foul pole can also be had for a great deal. The most expensive seats in the house, directly behind home plate, can be had for as low as $250 on the secondary market for low-interest games (face value is over $500). The cheapest face value tickets are generally in the $10-$20 range in the 500 level.
One star for the scoreboard control room, visible through a glass window in the 300-level concourse, a true must-see for any broadcast nerd.
Another star for the Seven Line Army, a uniquely enthusiastic group of passionate fans.
A third star for the home run apple, which rises in center field for any Mets dinger.
A fourth for Meet the Mets, the team’s 55 year-old fight song that plays from the stadium speakers at the main gate before each game.
A fifth star for the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum located in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, featuring memorabilia from decades of franchise history.
Citi Field is an inviting, fun place to watch baseball. It is a true must-visit for any baseball fan.
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Latest Crowd Reviews
Being a Yankees fan, I wish the new Yankee Stadium, was more like Citi Field. The stadium has great seating views with intimate seating,easy access to and from the stadium. Food and Beverage,for the basic fan, although still New York City prices. Citi Field was done correctly and the Mets fans have a great ballpark.
Citi Field was easily accessible from Manhattan and I enjoyed my visit, but wouldn&#039t consider it outstanding. I did like the way they&#039ve tried to incorporate history into the park, but I was a little underwhelmed by the Hall of Fame / Museum.