Saturday, May 30, 2009

Justin Review: Citi Field

After each game, both Mike and I will be posting reviews of our experience at the ballpark we just visited.  The format may change along the way - if you have any other categories you're interested in hearing more about, let us know.  Below the jump, my review of Citi Field.

Ballpark design: Citi Field is a beautiful ballpark.  The Mets really did a great job of incorporating a lot of the things that have been successful in other new ballparks (open concourses, picnic areas, a more general open feel to the ballpark) and adding to them as well.  One of the highlights of Citi Field is the area behind the centerfield scoreboard where they have most of the better food options at the ballpark, tables to sit at, and games to entertain kids.  The bridge in right center field is a very cool place to stand and watch part of the game, and there seems to be no shortages of other places throughout the stadium where you can watch the game if you want to leave your seats.  There are some less obvious positive features as well - I loved the openings they had on the outer edges of the concourses that let you take in the area around the ballpark (which isn't particularly impressive) and offer a view of the Manhattan skyline way in the distance (much more impressive).  And finally, the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, meant to be a throwback to Ebbets Field, is gorgeous, and one of the best entrances to a ballpark I've ever seen.  My only big negative is the layout of the field itself.  The Mets went a little overboard on trying to make a quirky and interesting field -  there are just too many weird angles, particularly in right field.  However, any issues with that are far outweighed by the brilliant design of the rest of the stadium.  A-

Scoreboards/Soundtrack: Another element of Citi Field that impressed me.  The stadium has two large scoreboards, one of which shows the action happening on the field live - something I've never seen at a baseball game beore.  At every other ballpark I've ever been to, the video board doesn't shows plays as they're happening (it only shows replays or live action between pitches).  However, as soon as a pitch has been hit, one of the scoreboards switches to live action to show you the play - a huge plus for us since we couldn't see part of the left field corner from our upper deck seats.  The out of town scoreboard was also one of the best I've seen, showing every game happening in the majors at the same time, with indicators showing who is on base and how many outs, in addition to the score.  I also really liked its positioning at the top of the upper deck in left field.  I would have liked more replays on the scoreboard, and I was a little frustrated that the pitch speed only seemed to appear for half the pitches, and was never up for more than 2 seconds or so.  But overall, well done. A-

Food/Drink: I don't think I've ever walked into a stadium where all the food smelled so good.  I unfortunately didn't get to try most of it (I had a pretty good hamburger and a Brooklyn beer), but luckily I live in New York, because there is so much I want to get there next time I go.  The options along the center field walkway were particularly impressive, from Shake Shack to Blue Smoke BBQ, a "fresh catch" seafood place, a little market selling deli sandwiches, and a huge beer stand with a lot of variety.  There was also no shortage of stands selling traditional stadium food throughout the rest of the ballpark, and the lines at those never appeared to be too long.  I would have liked to see more variety on the upper concourses (most of the more interesting food was in the outfield of the lower level), and the lines at Shake Shack and Blue Smoke were incredibly long. B+

Fans:  The good: The game was pretty much a sell out, and the fans were definitely in to it.  When the Mets loaded the bases in the 8th, the place was loud, and there were no shortage of "Let Go Mets" chants started by the fans themselves.  The bad: A lot of fans left really early.  By the top of the ninth inning, which started only around 9:30 or so, a quarter of the fans had left, and by the time the game ended in the 10th, the stadium was only half full.  Understandable for weekend night game (when there are a lot of kids) against a mediocre team in May, but still, not a particularly impressive show of loyalty. B

City:  I'll save this for when we come back at the end of our trip.  Needless to say: A+

Stadium neighborhood:  While the new stadium is such an improvement over Shea in almost every way, it's still located in a parking lot next to a bunch of ugly chop shops in a not particularly exciting area.  However, the fact that the 7 train is no longer using really old subway cars, and the fact that they're now running express trains back to the city after the games makes getting there and back much less painful.  They've also done a good job designing the area right outside the stadium, so you no longer feel like you are walking off the subway right into a gigantic parking lot - it feels like you are heading into a ballpark.  Much better. B-

Game: We got to see a great game.  Mike Pelfry and Sean West (making his second major league start) both were dominant, each allowing only one run in 7+ innings.  Omir Santos hit a home run, giving us a chance to see the new, much bigger apple pop up in the outfield, and Santos also won the game with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th.  A pitchers duel, extra innings, a walk-off hit - couldn't ask for much more, except maybe a little offense.  A-

Overall experience:  Without question, Citi Field is a gigantic improvement over Shea.  The Mets finally have a real ballpark to play in, not a run down...whatever you would call Shea Stadium.  They've also managed to keep some of the quirky charms that define the team, from the home run apple to their weird seventh inning stretch song.  Add in a great game, and it's going to be a challenge for any of the 29 remaining stadiums to top it.  A-


  1. food/drink: would just like to point out that even though the lines at blue smoke were ridiculously long, they moved impressively quickly.

    fans: "by the time the game ended in the 10th..." this game went to 11! just like spinal tap's amp. I know you know that, you say it 3 sections later :-P

  2. Don't forget the organ!

  3. A-! What?! I'm accusing you of bias against this particular NY baseball team. And what is this nonsense with pluses and minuses?