Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New York's Citi Field suitable for kings and Queens

The New York Mets have definitely underachieved on the diamond over the past few years, but the team did a great job with Citi Field, its new stadium that opened last season.
The ball park was built to replace nearby Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in the borough of Queens, and any New York City breaks should definitely include a visit here for baseball fans.
Citi Field seats 42,000 fans and has an exterior look similar to old Ebbets Field, which was the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers before the team moved to Los Angeles after the 1957 season. 

The stadium's most notable feature is the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, which acts as the entrance to the park. It features photos, videos, a statue and a quotation from the player who broke Major League Baseball's colour barrier when he played for the Dodgers in 1947. It's a very nice touch and another posthumous honour for the man whose uniform number has been retired by the league. 

An excellent souvenir store can be accessed from the rotunda before making your way to your seats, and a Mets Hall of Fame & Museum has opened adjacent to the rotunda this year.

I paid $19 for an upper deck seat along the first base line for a weekday game against the St. Louis Cardinals last August, and it offered a good vantage point of the entire field, as well as Flushing Bay and the East River to the north and the numerous planes that were noisily taking off and landing at nearby Laguardia Airport throughout the game.

A giant apple with a Mets logo on it lights up and rises out of the centre field area where there are no seats, and an impressive opposite field shot by David Wright gave me a chance to see it in action in the first inning as the Mets jumped out to an early lead on the way to a 9-0 win.

I appreciated the brick wall behind the plate, similar to the stadiums in Philadelphia and Baltimore and the fact that the dimensions and wall heights weren't uniform in the outfield. Some lucky fans can sit at ground level behind a screen that forms part of the outfield fence in right field near the bullpens in a section called Mo's Zone.

There's a good selection of souvenirs and food available from vending stands throughout the stadium. If you're able to afford a classier dining experience, the 350-seat Acela Club offers a full view of the field from its location behind the left field foul pole. Other higher end eating options are also available beyond fast food hot dogs, sausages, nachos, ice cream, hamburgers, French fries, seafood, pizza, pasta, barbecue and Japanese offerings for us plain folk.

Big Apple Brews is unfortunately the only place for commoners to order microbrews, but at least it's conveniently located by the Mets 2K Sports Fan Fest if you want to enjoy a beer while your kids play. The Fan Fest area is very well done and includes a mini wiffleball field replica of Citi Field, a batting cage, a dunk tank, video game kiosks and other attractions.
Another welcomed aspect was lots of open areas where fans who didn't wish to stay in their seats can easily stand and get a good view of the field. A large video scoreboard in centre field offers player information and replays, as well as sometimes annoying ads that have come to be part of the modern baseball experience. 

Tennis fans will appreciate that the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the home of the annual U.S. Open tournament, is located across the street — making it entirely possible to see a unique tennis-baseball double-header while the grand slam event is on.

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