Before I break down what I saw today, I must first thank all of the Mets fans for checking out the live stream and commenting both here, and on Metsblog.com. Yankees fans and Mets fans have many differences, but share one thing - a love for baseball.
The Citi Field surroundings were highly stimulating, but as a Yankee fan, I spent much of the day experiencing the sinking feeling that the new Yankee Stadium can't possibly top the new ballpark in Flushing. Right now, I can't make that call, but I can relay my first impressions of the Mets' new home.
- The Stadium feels huge while walking around the concourses, but tiny when you are in the seats. There can't be a better compliment for a baseball stadium. The intimacy in most seats is amazing.
- Speaking of the concourses, it seems like a simple addition, but the wider concourses really change the entire stadium experience. Walking from one place to another is no longer a chore - it is something to look forward to.
- There are long counters behind most seating areas which are an ingenious addition to a baseball stadium. It is now entirely possible to go to the concession stand, plop your food down on one of the standing room only "counters" and enjoy the great view. These counters are on every level of the stadium and spread throughout the stadium. If you have crappy seats, you can likely float over to one of those spots and get a much better view. You also never have to eat food on your lap if you don't want to.
- The Caesars Club, on the terribly named "Excelsior" level is one of the highlights of the Stadium. It can best be described as an extra-cushy airport terminal in the middle of a baseball stadium. That may not sound great, but there is ample and comfortable seating, concessions everywhere, and a generally fun atmosphere. There are no views of the field, but it is a great place to kill time, meet friends, warm up, cool down, or otherwise hang out. It really changes the ballpark experience.
- There is also a smaller version of the Ceasars Club on the Promenade level, right behind home plate. Once again, it offers a climate-controlled reprieve from the elements without demanding a membership fee. It felt very upscale, but still approachable for the average Joe. It also offers partial views of the field. I'll give the Mets a pass for the massive leak in this area that needed a large garbage can under it. I'm not sure how they never caught that leak during construction, but they will likely patch it up before opening day.
- The "Pepsi Porch" was my favorite spot in the new stadium. The view from section 303, Row 1 is great. If you are snagging Mets tickets on Stubhub, I highly recommend choosing seats in that vicinity.
- $5 beers. They inexplicably weren't available today, but they are on many of the menus on the field level. Beer prices are as follows as far as I could tell: $5 (12 oz.) and $6.25 (16 oz.) draft beers (Bud and Bud Light). There are also $7.50 cans of Bud (16 oz.) and $7.50 Brooklyn Brewery on draft (16 oz.).
- Getting from section 334 to section 335 in the stadium is a big pain. You have to walk up to the upper deck on a ramp, and then back down a flight of stairs to section 335. The Acela Club stands in the way, and only special people are allowed through there. Membership has its privileges.
- The ramp up to the "Pepsi Porch" has drainage issues. There was some heavy rain overnight, but by 1 PM, there should not still have been a massive puddle taking up the entire walkway. The drainage system on that ramp was an epic fail and will need to be fixed quickly.
- Speaking of the drainage, it seemed like an issue all around the stadium. The bathroom stalls had a gross mixture of water, urine, dirt and a bunch of other stuff that pooled up below the toilet. Along those lines, the new waterless urinals are a strange experience and smell weird. The bathrooms creeped me out as much as any other stadium bathrooms, and they were brand new.
- The concession workers were absolutely clueless about everything. Most of them were friendly, but they didn't know how to use the registers, had absolutely no information about food offerings and generally represented a minimum wage workforce. This is probably something that will be fixed with time, when friendliness will be exchanged for competence. The one bonus here was the newbie concession worker who gave me a $6.25 beer for $5. Cha-ching!
- The food offerings are very repetitive and typical throughout much of the stadium. Items like hot dogs, sausages, ice cream and beer are everywhere. The good news is that you should not have to wait long for those items, but it also means you will have to walk further for some variety. The non-typical stadium food is reserved for the Shake Shack/Blue Smoke area (see "The Ugly" section below) beyond the center field scoreboard.
- Speaking of that area, views beyond center and right field of the 126th street area in Corona/Flushing is horrendous. Granted, Safeco in Seattle has crappy rail yards and Citizens Bank Park in Philly is just a bunch of parking lots, but the slummy garages are a real eyesore:
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At least now I know where to go when I need a muffler. How long until those garages are bought by fast food restaurants and sports bars?
- The view from at least a couple of seats in the Promenade are terrible. I won't speak for all of the seats, but you can see in my video that my ticketed seat was an obstructed view. I wouldn't pay more than $5 for that seat. Perhaps I had some bad karma left over from uncovering all of the obstructed views back in February.
- The lines at Shake Shack were ridiculous, and they were only offering an EXTREMELY limited menu (only the single shack burger, no shakes, etc). I can only imagine what the lines will be like when they have their full menu. Expect to spend 30 minutes on line for Shake Shack and 15-20 minutes for Blue Smoke.