There cannot possibly be a more no-lose situation for a ballpark than replacing Shea Stadium. No matter what the new facility is like, it’s guaranteed to be an improvement. But Citi Field, the new home of the New York Mets, is a delightfully quirky ballpark, and I liked it a great deal.
Did I like it as much as the new Yankee Stadium? No, but I’m biased. Plus, the two ballparks were built with different missions. Yankee Stadium was built with the intention of keeping a lot of the features of the pre-1976 and post-1976 Yankee Stadium, while Citi Field was meant to be an entirely new concept. Citi Field definitely fulfilled that expectation.
I loved the fact that it’s not a uniform playing field. It’s definitely a pitcher-friendly ballpark, but the dimensions are all over the place. Right field is especially quirky, with an area called the Pepsi Porch that overhangs the playing field, similar to the upper deck in Tiger Stadium, and a right-field wall that juts out sharply then bends back in.
The bullpens were also quite unique: The visitors’ bullpen is behind the Mets’ bullpen, under the seats, so you can’t really see it. It took me a while to locate.
The seating areas have a lot of odd little nooks and crannies and small sections, with some seats that seem like fantastic places to watch a game and a few seats that are God-awful. There are also a great number of standing-room areas that provide great views of the field.
When I first entered the ballpark, the upper deck seemed excessively high and far away from the field, but our seats were in the seventh row of the upper deck, between home place and third base, and they were fine. The upper deck appears far worse than it actually is.
There’s an area behind the center-field scoreboard that features several food options, a beer stand with an unbelievable selection and activities for kids, such as a batting cage and a miniature Citi Field Wiffle Ball field. And the back of the center-field scoreboard has a video monitor, so you don’t miss any of the action.
There’s a similar area in the upper deck behind home plate, just for food and a gift shop, but there’s no video monitor. I have a feeling the Mets will add one eventually.
One thing that puzzled my friend and I: There are a ton of seats in fair territory in left field. They’re not necessarily bad seats, but they’re still in fair territory. In fact, due to a handful of club areas and suites, there really aren’t that many seats in the infield, which is strange for a new ballpark.
Citi Field will definitely be confusing the first few times around — for both fans and opposing players — but it’s a truly fun place to enjoy a baseball game.