Your beloved Jersey is a traitor. I have had multiple opportunities to visit the new Yankee Stadium (including a chance to see the Red Sox), but schoolwork and responsibilities kept getting in the way.
Yet I could not find a way to weasel out of taking by brother (the Diamondbacks fan) to Citi Field today to see his team take on the amalgamation of AA players that comprise the New York Mets.
And so, I had my first Citi Field experience, and I knew exactly what to expect before I went in. I had seen the stadium from the outside, and it was admittedly good-looking, but I'd heard the inside was pure crap. That made sense: the Mets can't get anything right, right?
Well, not quite. Despite the reports and despite my bias, I have to admit, Citi Field is a nice stadium. A very nice stadium indeed.
I'd heard there was no roof, even on the concourse, and that rumor turned out to be true. At first, I thought the idea was weird and nonsensical, but as I found out, it gave a great, unique feel to the stadium. I really enjoyed the different setup of the concourse, which was set up extremely well.
Of course, the lack of a roof showed its dire flaw when the pouring rain began. The game started two and a half hours past its scheduled time, and a fully enclosed concourse would have been rather useful.
There was still plenty of shelter under the overhanging seats, and the concession stands were strategically placed under said seats, but because some areas were open to the sky, people had to crowd together under the shelter.
It was not so bad today, as there were not a lot of fans on hand, but it could prove to be a real nuisance. I still like the idea, however, and it's possible the unique outdoor feel trumps the convenience of an indoor concourse, even in a rain delay.
The actual stadium was very nice, and it utterly embarrasses the dump that was Shea Stadium. I mean, anything would be better than Shea, but this is not even close. Shea Stadium is the gum under Citi Field's croc. It's not just an improvement, but a really nice work of architecture.
The on-field product is lousy, however. We all know the Mets have been awful, but it doesn't stop there. The grounds crew was simply unimpressive. I know it's hard to judge a grounds crew, especially after seeing them only once, but they did a poor job rolling up the tarp before the first pitch.
And I know, it has nothing to do with anything. But the Yankees' grounds crew dances to YMCA, so I'm used to a luxury in that area. A crew that can't roll up a tarp properly seems very weak in my eyes.
And if there's one thing I can't stand about the construction of the stadium, it's the field itself. Right field is jagged! The wall has a zig-zag in it to accommodate a Modell's store! I don't understand why there has to be a notch in the outfield, giving an awkward addition to the on-field area. It looks really weird, especially considering it's an in-play area.
I did like the in-house organist, who played many popular songs on an organ, making them sound all basebally. I'm sure a lot of old people complain about how cheesy it is, but I enjoyed it a lot, and thought it was pretty damn creative.
However, drowning out the organ was very often the sound of airplanes flying overhead. Citi Field is located very close to an airport, and low-flying planes roared over the field over and over again during the game.
I know it's not the fault of the field or its designers, but location does have a lot to do with stadium experience, and I found this to be a detriment.
As I mentioned earlier, there were not a lot of fans today. This probably had a lot to do with the matchup and the weather. The Diamondbacks are not exactly a draw, especially in the rain. So I won't comment on how empty the stadium was, especially since they did manage to fill it about halfway. These days happen.
But there remains no excuse for how dead the crowd was. My brother turned to me at one point and said this was the quietest crowd he'd ever seen. And he was right: no one made any noise whatsoever. I know the Mets and D'Backs aren't very awe-inspiring, but a little emotion would be nice.
There were some great defensive plays and a home run, but the oohs and ahs were rare, as the crowd seemed content to sleep through the game. I've been to Catskill Cougars games that were louder than this.
I don't care who is playing whom, if a stadium is half full, I should be hearing SOME cheering or booing. But there was almost nothing. A very poor show from Mets fans.
However, the lack of fans did make getting in and out of the stadium very convenient. Then again, they may have mastered the art of managing parking lots so that all games are like this, but I'm sure it had a lot to do with the fact that so few people actually came to the game.
I got a great parking spot and had no trouble at all finding it, and there was no traffic going out. The entire experience was very smooth, something I can't say about any other game I've been to.
Now, I am a Devils and Nets fan, so I've been to games where there are not a lot of attendees. But it was never as smooth as this. So while I'm sure the dearth of fans helped out, it was still a job well done by Citi Field management.
There is one final note I would like to make, although it has nothing to do with the stadium: Daniel Murphy has great choice in batting music.
His first at-bat featured a mash-up of the Jaws theme and an Irish dancing song, and his second had the song "What I've Done" by Linkin Park. I did not recognize the song for his third at-bat, but it sounded good, and my brother informed me it was by OAR. I'll assume he's right.
So that was my experience. To sum:
Pros: unique concourse design, a trillion times nicer than Shea, cool organist, easy parking and exiting.
Cons: concourse design inconvenient during rain delay, right field is jagged, location near airport is highly undesirable, grounds crew not up to snuff.
Other: Mets fans seem completely uninterested, but Daniel Murphy has great batting music.
Overall, give the stadium a robust eight of 10. Now I have to get to Yankee Stadium to experience a true 10.
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