The first time I went to Citi Field was in 2009; its inaugural season. I remember being unimpressed but I had a much better experience this time around.
The biggest difference is probably that I was able to appreciate more of the food and drink. The beer selection is the best of any ballpark I’ve been to (here’s me drinking a Southern Tier 2XIPA) and pretty much everything was the same price, so craft beer wasn’t twice as much as a Budweiser. The food is also great, with all the regular ballpark stuff (hot dogs, fried dough, cotton candy) plus some good calls on local, New York chains, like Shake Shack for burgers, Two Boots for pizza, and Blue Smoke for BBQ. Here’s what we got to eat from Blue Smoke (with fries from Box Frites):
The brisket sandwich was amazing.
There are a few unique things about Citi Field that I can appreciate on different levels:
Jackie Robinson Rotunda – The Jackie Robinson Rotunda is a recreation of the gate to Ebbets Field, torn down after the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. It’s dedicated to the memory of Jackie Robinson, the first major league player to break the color barrier. I have mixed feelings about the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. On the one hand, Jackie Robinson is an important figure in baseball and America. I appreciate all he did and went through. On the other hand, he played for the Dodgers, not the Mets. He was retired before the Mets were even a team. The design of the rotunda itself is from Ebbets Field (where the Dodgers played). The Mets play in Queens while the Dodgers used to play in Brooklyn. On yet another (third) hand, Ebbets Field is now just an ugly apartment building that I happen to live a couple of blocks away from, so I can appreciate trying to keep that history alive. I guess I like it but not as much as if the Dodgers had done it.
Orange Foul Polls – I dig it. It’s not crazy ingenious but they are the only major league team that has strayed from the standard yellow. This was also a carry-over from their old ballpark.
Home Run Apple – There’s an apple (a BIG apple) that pops up when a Met hits a home run. It’s fun, I saw it pop out twice.
One subtle change I noticed was the actual elimination of some ads. Fewer ads are always better. I also noticed a distinct upgrade in the quality, no more shifty looking lawn mower ads, Cash 4 Gold, or Fox News (though they still house an Amway location in the park).
For general ambiance, the crowd was very lively for a baseball game that probably couldn’t have mattered less. The place was very clean. I also saw my first ever manager’s challenge board.
Inevitably, Citi Field has to be compared to Yankee Stadium. Undoubtedly, Citi Field is the better ballpark. Citi Field doesn’t feel like a mall. It feels like it embodies New York more with its choices of food and beer. There are good views everywhere and no closed in spaces. The staff was more competent (at Yankee Stadium, there was a vendor who could only serve sausages, not hot dogs, despite working behind the same counter as hot dogs and sausages, who walked by the hot dogs to get to the sausages). A win for the Mets!
Citi Field has gone up a few notches in my book since the first time I was there and I had a great experience. I even moved it up a few places in my overall ballpark rankings.
Most of the photos by Laura Miner.
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