10 Years Ago Citi Field Opens: From 2009 The Uncensored Guide To Citi Field

On April 13, 2019 the Mets played their first official game at Citi Field.  I thought it would be fun to take a look back and what we said at the time (and doing this on a weekday and early for good reason.)

Some of the formatting of this post has gotten wonky over the decade in-between, I have left the post as-was for this republishing.

From Mets Police 4/13/09

……

We’ve finally made it. Tonight our brand new ballpark opens another season of Mets baseball. The Mets Police were fortunate to visit the stadium a few times between the St. John’s & exhibition games, and the workout. So with some help from Mets Policemen Osh41 and Dan Twohig…here’s the uncensored unofficial guide to Citi Field.

It’s a great great park. There’s so much to love. We discovered a few troubling things, but overall it’s fantastic.

THE ROTUNDA

Osh41: Getting off the subway – it was jarring walking down that ramp and not seeing Shea. There was a physical and emotional jolt not seeing it there. I hate comparing things to 9/11 for obvious reasons but when you went downtown after it happened there was a hole in the sky where the buildings were. You saw them there for so long, they were so big, you’d never imagine them not there. So coming down the ramp and seeing nothing?? Very strange and that will I think be something a lot of fans will have to get used to.

Getting in – kind of seemed like Shea! Long lines, check your bag. Everyone looking up instead of ahead. Long line at main gate for obvious reasons – 1st day, everyone wants to go in the main door. There are other entrances so for future games I’ll go to more seat specific gates. Rotunda – very nice, still not finished, looks like they are going to hang some more pictures of Jackie up. Huge #42 behind the escalator will be a photo op for a generation of kids. Huge Mets Clubhouses shop right behind the escalators.

Shannon: I found the rotunda to be overrated. It’s nice enough, it’s big…but there’s nothing Mets about it, and the Jackie Robinson video is going to get quite old fast.

Dan: The entrance to the ballpark is magnificent. Coming off the subway you are lead right towards the Rotunda. The landscaping around the park is still in progress but you can already tell that once it’s all completed it will look really nice. They already have blue, orange, and white flowers planted out in front, and the trees are going in along both sides if the park.

The rotunda itself is not nearly as obnoxious as I thought it was going to be. It honors Robinson, but in a very tasteful manner. A few things to know:

  • the turnstiles now have an attached ticket scanner (no more hand held ones)
  • there is a very large team store located on the ground level with an entrance inside the rotunda to the right (there is also a street entrance as the store is open everyday 10-5)
  • Two video screens on either side of the rotunda show highlights from Robinson’s career. I think Shannon is correct that it will get old fast

One thing that Shannon and I noticed when we were there was that as we walked around the Field Level and went out by the Rotunda, it really did feel like we were outside even though we were still inside. I can see the balcony becoming a big hangout place during rain delays


FIELD LEVEL


Osh41: At top of escalator we went in and made a left, nice wide concourses. Felt it was kind of dark in there, lights looked to be there but not set to go yet. Bathrooms, concessions all there. Spotted pics of Ebbets Field and saw the Ebbets Club entrances are on that level. You keep walking and then boom on your right, concourse opens up to the field. Looks great, grass is green, dark green seats etc. Seen pics of it but to see in person for the first time was great.

Dan: This is really the best part of Corporate Field – the Field Level concourse wraps all the way around the ballpark. You can’t see the field when you are behind the home plate area (the Delta Club is located there), but once you get past there the concourse opens up to the field.

There are 2 Ebbets Clubs on the Field Level, one along each baseline. Truthfully they really aren’t that special, just small interior areas with a bar, some tables, and private bathrooms.

THE CAESARS CLUB LEVEL

Dan: This is the small mid-level area (kind of like the Loge Level at Shea). Unlike the Field and Promenade Levels, The Caesars Club Level is only accessible to those holding tickets to this level.

The level includes several food options as well as two full bars with seating, one on each base side. In addition, there is also the Caesar’s Club, an expansive area located above the Rotunda with leather chairs, tables, bar seating, and many food options, including salads and wraps.

Here are a few pictures taken from the level and inside the Caesars Club.


THE PROMENADE LEVEL (AKA UPPERS)

Osh41: Let me tell you the trip wasn’t half as long as it took to get to the uppers at Shea. Quick trip, could have taken an elevator if I wanted.

The promenade is great. Huge upgrade over Shea. You feel much closer to the field. The upper deck is split in half so you can walk down or up. Lots of room to stand around and watch the game. No more craning your neck to see a TV to know what’s going on, just turn your head and the field is right there.

Dan: Yes there are some obstructed seats (see below) but it’s amazing how much closer to the field you are here compared to the top deck at Shea. The incline isn’t that steep so no sense of vertigo, and the seats really are all angled towards the infield.

The concourse up here is huge – in some areas it seemed even wider than the concourse on the Field Level.

Above home plate is the Promenade Club. No specialty foods or beers, just an enclosed area with tables, a bar, and windows looking out onto the field. Admittance will be to only those holding specified tickets.

Behind the Promenade Club along the concourse is the Promenade Level Food Court. Here is where you will find Mama’s of Corona, as well as other staples (burgers, dogs, etc.) Several picnic tables and benches ensure that this will be a popular hang out area.

The thing I liked the most about the Promenade Level though was the lack of wind. Shannon and I were up there during the Friday night Boston game, and even though we could see the flags on top of the park whipping in the wind, we felt little more than a breeze. Granted it was only one night but I don’t think early Spring and Fall games will be as bad to handle here as they were at Shea.

CENTERFIELD / THE PEPSI PORCH

Osh41: Osh41 is of the middle class. He is an upper deck/bleachers guy. I would sit in these Apple seats in center ahead of 95% of the park. They are fantastic. You’re right behind the pitcher, its like watching it on TV. You walk out behind you and you have the food, drinks etc.

I didn’t know anything about the Shake Shack until the past few weeks but their burgers are terrific. $5.75 for a great cheeseburger – I didn’t feel violated on the price either. I think I ate 1 burger in 30 years of going to games at Shea – for a reason – they were awful. This stand is going to be mobbed every night. They should use half the parking lot as a grazing field for cattle because they will need to keep the beef coming.

Dan: Out beyond center field at Citi Field is Taste of the City– the concession area that everyone (from the Times to NY Magazine) is talking about. This is where you will find Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack and Blue Smoke stands,as well as Box Frites and Nona’s Deli. During the open house workout the missus and I sampled the Blue Smoke Pulled Pork Sandwich. At $9 not cheap – but considering it was as filling as 2 hot dogs it’s overall a cheaper (and tastier) meal.

But for me, the happiest moment on Sunday was when I met Will. Will is the man in charge of Big Apple Brews, a beer oasis that will make any beer aficionado smile. A 4-sided,12 door refrigerator stocks dozens of micro and imported beers – and the selection is constantly changing based on sales and consumer feedback. I met Will while gazing at a bottle of Longboard Lager from Hawaii’s Kona Brewing Company. According to Will it was a big seller over the weekend. Not so much the Kirin or Tiger (which only sold “maybe 4 bottles”).

Shannon: Center field is definitely one of the best places in the park. Googling God blog has a video of the area.


BIG APPLE SEATS

Osh41: Cool. And there is tons of space behind it to hang out, eat, drink etc. There are going to be tons of homers hit up there. Under the big scoreboard there’s tons of space too but its fenced off. This is where I saw they had a chance to add some more seats – I have a problem with only 42.5k. This is NY, you need more seats, bottom line.

Shannon: I’d like sit out there, but at $42 a pop I’m going to have to pass. This could be “the bleachers” but the price will keep it from being that. I disagree with Osh41 about home runs being hit out there…the fence says 415….and you need to hit it over, and when I was there I didn’t think the ball carried at all.


THE ACELA CLUB

Dan: It’s a nice place….a very nice place. Tables are tiered along five levels – four inside and one outside – offering full and clear views of the playing field for all patrons.

The menus looked good (they were not serving today but had menus posted). Yes, the price of brunch or dinner here is not for everyone ($41 for brunch, $48 for dinner) but the selection seemed decent. I seriously doubt whether we will be dining there during the season – but if any of you think you might be, here are some pictures.


OBSTRUCTED VIEWS

Shannon: Some of these are very troubling. I couldn’t believe how bad it was until it happened to me at the Red Sox game. You can see video of another fan’s experience here.

The shot on the left is from Row 3 of section 504. It looks like if you’re in the lower three to five rows of the Promenade you will be in danger of views like these. However, early reports have the Mets being accommodating about moving people.

You may also want to check out a video from left field below the scoreboard. (thx ‘the Ropolitans blog).



Dan: This picture is from Section 529, Row 3. When we got there man was I livid. Almost the entire row has an obstructed view of 3rd Base and the right-hander’s batters box.






FOOD

Shannon: I‘m both cheap and went on a Lenten Friday, so I haven’t had much yet. The concession lines were longer than long, mainly because the wireless credit card systems keep crapping out. My beer and Nathan’s onion rings were fine….Dan’s hot dog was so cold he returned it. Gothamist has a summary of all the fancy places here. The National hot dog council reports that the Mets are expected to finish second in sausage consumption.

Dan: As Shannon mentioned the registers were all screwed up as the WiFi apparently wasn’t working. Additionally some of the food wasn’t getting cooked (my first dog was ice cold). Hopefully they will get this worked out – it’s why they have exhibitions.

As for options, there are plenty of concession stands all around the park on both levels. It looked like each stand had it’s own kitchen area as well – or at least most of them did. This is good news as the food should be a lot fresher. Even the pizza looked good – the ovens were right there.

My one wish is that the specialty items (Blue Smoke, etc) be offered beyond the CF Food Court.


BATHROOMS

Osh41: Very big, waterless urinals – no dividers though – they should have sprung for them. Some folks are going to be have some stage fright issues which will cause delays.

Shannon: The urinals are pretty well spread apart so the lack of dividers isn’t as bad as it could have been. They are much bigger than Shea. I notice wetspots develop in front of the urinals. My fellow Mets fans need some better aim. By the seventh you’ll need to stand spread eagle.

SOUNDS, SCOREBOARDS, AND SCREENS

Osh41: Looks great, if you’re in left field you’re going to have a problem seeing it. Didn’t sit in the seats that look to be obstructed by it.

Shannon: I found Citi Field to be a refreshing change from the wall of noise that Shea was. Lots of organ music, lets noise and nobody encouraging everybody clap your hands clapclapclapclap. I hope it stays this way.

Dan: We Built This City” – the worst song in the history of rock was used in a between innings spot to show the construction of Citi Field. I really hope they don’t plan on using this throughout the year.

I haven’t seen anyone else mention this, but among the so many things that we noticed last night were these huge blank spaces at different areas around the ballpark, specifically around the scoreboard and video screen. The Mets have not sold all their advertising space – and some of it premium spots too. The result is probably the biggest eyesore in the new park. Big gray squares of nothing look bad. I can understand that the Mets may be having a tough time selling the space – it’s bad out there right now. But why don’t they at least have those spaces a Mets blue, or put up Mets logos – something, anything but that blank gray. There are also blank spots along the Pepsi Porch in RF.

SMOKING
 
Shannon: Sorry smokers. There’s only one area, it’s at the left field gate and it’s going to take you half an hour to go smoke and return.

STORES

Dan: Can a guy buy a regular cap? I went to 2 team stores looking to replace my old cap with a new one. All they had for sale were ones with a commemorative patch on the side. The logo is a nice one, but caps should not have patches. I left cap-less.

However, beyond my cap issues, there are numerous full stores to browse in – a total of (I think) 4 team stores, A Majestic store, a Players Association store, Alyssa Milano’s Touch store, a memorabilia store, and I think 1 or 2 others I’m missing.

One thing you don’t see are the old stand alone souvenir concession stands.


CHILDREN’S AREA


Shannon: I haven’t made it out there yet – but Mets Today did.

Dan: This is a really nice addition, with a mini T-ball field in the configuration of Citi Field (even down to the retired numbers), pitching and batting cages, and video game consoles. It’s not overdone though (ala the ferris wheel at Comerica Park)



126TH STREET

Shannon: 126th street has gone form being the random pavement on the far side of the Shea lot, to being right next to the park. It’s ugly, and it won’t be there long. There’s no way those chop shops will stay.


Osh41: Holy Cow! The chop shops – I always knew they were there and have even patronized some of them. But the view of the area from the park never existed at Shea. It’s crazy having this brand new park on one side of the block and this hell hole on the other side. There were pot holes filled with water over there that looked like the reservoir in Central Park.

Dan: We went in the RF gate – which is on 126th Street, right by the chop shops. Memo to Fred – get on the phone to Bloomberg and do what needs to be done to get rid of that area.

LACK OF METS STUFF

Osh41: (this was after the St. John’s game) Things I noticed that I hope is something that is being worked on – as you walk around there are no pictures inside the park of any Mets! You wouldn’t know what team plays there. In Shea there were the big banners and pictures all around. Mr. Met was on the signs saying ‘Thanks for coming’ ‘Thanks for eating that knish etc.’ . Mr. Met wasn’t anywhere in signage as far as I saw. I loved seeing the big pics of Tug, Keith and Tom hanging there. This could be something they are working on for the real opening in a few weeks.

Shannon: When I went for the first Red Sox game the exterior had been decorated with flags with pictures of all the “right” players – the list of heroes any Mets fan would make. The inside could get Metsier.

Dan: I mentioned to Shannon at the Red Sox game that it felt we were on a road trip. Right now, beyond the numbers on the wall and the scoreboard, there really is no way to tell you are at the home of the Mets. Definitley need more blue and orange around.

OVERALL

Osh41: I think they did a good job. I’ll never be happy until I see a statue of Seaver and them wearing hats and uniforms with no trace of black on them. But for the ballpark – it really is nice and the fans should really enjoy it – and trust me on the burgers.

Dan: It’s still really hard for me to believe that this is our new home. I really like it – but it will take some time for me to get fully comfortable. More Mets history (I agree with Osh41 on a Seaver statue) and more blue and orange will go a long way to making it feel like home.

Shannon: It’s great. I’m bothered by the obstructed views – how did they not catch it…but other than that, great park. It will be nice to have the better of the city’s two ballparks for the next 50 years.

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