By Richard Kagan
Although Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets will be five years old this spring, it still has the feel of a new ballpark.
Citi Field opened in the spring of 2009 to much fanfare and excitement.
Finally, the Mets and their loyal fans would have a new home. After all, the new Yankee Stadium opened at the same time. It was only fitting that the cross-town rivals got new ballparks the same season.
Designers of Citi Field took care in building it as a fan-friendly ballpark. The capacity of Citi Field is 42,000 and space has been allocated for fan comfort. There is ample room in the seats, plenty of leg space and room in the aisles.
Two long-time Mets fans who went to Shea Stadium, the former home of the Mets, which was situated just a long fly ball from the new site of Citi Field, gave the park high marks.
Both fans said, they think the park provides great customer service from the ticket-takers to the ushers. There are plenty of personnel to point you in the right direction.
“Shea Stadium had a lot of character and so does Citi Field,” said Pedro Hazel, Jr.
Hazel and his friend Steve Ferguson have been Mets fans for more than 30 years and have seen their share of home games. Hazel said Citi Field “has the home-style feeling,” often an important quality
when new stadiums are built.
What stands out is that Citi Field includes both the old and the new. When a fan enters the stadium, one walks into a near replica of the outside of old Ebbets Field, the famed home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who left for Los Angeles in 1957. Then a fan walks into the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, an homage of the great Brooklyn Dodger, who broke the color barrier in 1947. One can see highlights of his illustrious career, including a video of his great plays. Robinson’s number 42 is the only retired number in Major League baseball.
Mets history fans will get their fill by seeing the Mets Museum, which includes the Mets Hall of Fame, situated to the right of the rotunda.
Ferguson and Hazel enjoyed walking through the glory years of 1969, and 1986, when the Mets last won the World Series. They said they can see exhibits and learn about the great Mets like Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman,
Rusty Staub, Keith Hernandez, and Darryl Strawberry. If you want to hear an audio call of great plays of that era, you can also do that at the museum.
“You get to see everything,” said Ferguson, who lives in Rego Park.
The new elements of the stadium include comfortable walking spaces, larger bathrooms that look brand new, and an updated scoreboard that provides data on each player. If you want to see the latest statistics on a player, all you need to do is glance at the scoreboard.
For food and eating, the Mets have added access to various lounges with the ticket package. Ferguson and Hazel have access to the Promenade Club, which is located behind home plate. The ticket gives you entrance to a nice sized lounge where you can eat burgers and drink a beer in air-conditioned comfort.
If you want to go back to your seat, you can do that too.
Food choices range from Prime steaks to Shake Shack.
“It is a nice experience for the fans,” Hazel said.