The Truth About Citi Field

William Henry JonesContributor IJune 7, 2009

Let’s get one thing straight from the start: Citi Field is a lot nicer than Shea Stadium. But then again, so are most garbage dumps.  While some of my greatest memories occurred at Shea Stadium it was time for a new ballpark. 

I had high expectations based on the newer ballparks I had already seen and from what I had read about the planned Citi Field.  Unfortunately, I was extremely disappointed.

I got off the subway and was going to enter via the nearest entrance, the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.  This is the main entrance that was designed to resemble Ebbets Field, the home ballpark of Jackie Robinson and a Dodger team that abandoned New York.

I arrived early so I could look at the statues of all the old Mets and tributes to the two world championship teams.  None were to be found.  This would have been a great entrance for a new Dodger stadium, not the new home of the New York Mets.

The entrance seemed crowded so I looked for an alternative but the nest closest entrances to the Robinson Rotunda (which is directly behind home plate) was located on either side near the foul poles. 

That’s right, from one foul pole to the other, just one entrance.  There are three entrances on 126th Street  (the outfield) which is accessible to none of the mass transit or most of the parking lots.

When I finally got in I noticed that there was only one escalator to the next level.  After getting to the first level, to get to the upper deck (called the Promenade Level), you can either wait for an elevator (and wait, and wait and wait), or you can walk halfway between either third base or first base and the foul pole to the next single escalator, or walk up several flights of stairs. 

This results in overcrowding on the lower level as everyone is funneled through this area.

As an alternative, you might as well walk to one of the outfield entrances, since you’re going to wind up there anyway no matter which entrance you use.

I had heard about all the new food options, so I thought I would check it out.  For the most part, it’s the same as Shea.  There are a few newer options in the outfield, but the lines were so long I didn’t want to be bothered. 

Waiting on such a long line for something I can get outside the stadium for much cheaper hardly seemed like a wise investment of time.

One improvement is the pizza.  They took a local pizza place and let them have the concession, and it’s probably the best ballpark pizza I have ever had.  But at $5.75 a slice, I don’t expect to be eating much of it. 

The lines for most of the concession stands are not that long, probably because it’s the same 45 year old menu and people must be tired of the prices and the food.

In the promenade level, there is a very nice food court behind home plate that has benches, restrooms, a team store, and lots of space.  They did a very nice job on that part of the stadium.  What was omitted from Citi Field is the fresh popcorn that they used to sell at Shea.  Now all you can get is the pre-packaged popcorn, which I can live without.

The promenade level has for certain ticket holders the “Promenade Club.”  I went in once to check it out.  It’s nothing special, some much overpriced deli sandwiches, alcoholic beverages, and pretzels. 

What they don’t have is seats.  One day when it started raining I thought I would watch the end of the game there, but there was one problem, you can’t see home plate!!  Nice planning, Mr. Wilpon. 

Also, don’t bother looking for ushers in the promenade level; they don’t have any.  I sit in the Promenade Club seats (first four rows) and every time I get up for any reason I have to chase somebody out of my seat when I return.  Also, in the Promenade Reserved level, many seats have obstructed views.  Just Google Citi Field and you’ll see for yourself.

The scoreboards are just plain horrible.  The advertising on the two main scoreboards are excessive, obnoxious and over the top.  It seems like someone as an afterthought decided that maybe they would put a scoreboard in the middle of the abundance of outfield billboards.  It is so cheap looking it can hardly be described.

The Caesars level is much nicer, if you don’t mind spending between $70 - $250 per game. The Caesars Club is quite nice, but pointless.  It has good food, very comfortable couches, very clean bathrooms, carpeting and wide screen HDTV’s. 

But why would anyone want to spend that kind of money and spend any time during the game there? I can sit in my living room and get the same amenities for free.

Included with the lower levels is access to the VIP entrance which is located slightly to the left or right of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.  They have short lines so I thought I would try it.  I got inside and was directed to an elevator.  After waiting for over five minutes I asked if there was an escalator or stair case I could use. I was told no!

The wider seats that the Mets were saying Citi Field would have are probably in the lower level.  They certainly are not in the Promenade level. The space between the rows don’t seem to be any bigger than Shea either. And the claim that you can see the game while standing at the concession area is too ridiculous to even talk about.

I’m sure the lower level seats and the suites are quite nice, but I’ll never know.  I’d never spend the kind of money the Wilpons are asking for those seats to find out. And from what I see, it seems that most people aren’t willing to spend that money.  Suites and lower level sections are consistently empty.

It doesn’t seem that outside of the suite level and expensive restaurants and clubs, much thought was put into the planning of this stadium.  And unfortunately, we’re stuck with it. If this was the best they could do, they might as well left Shea standing. This is New York; the Mets could have and should have done much better.