March 5, 2009


Mets’ New Home Is the ‘Anti-Shea’ (KEN BELSON and RICHARD SANDOMIR, 3/05/09, NY Times)

For those fans who hated Shea Stadium, fear not: Citi Field is nothing like its predecessor, the last bits of which lie in ruins a few hundreds yards away.

The Mets’ new park, which will open its doors for a Georgetown-St. John’s baseball game March 29, is far more intimate than Shea and corrects some of Shea’s worst faults.

Citi Field will hold about 42,000 fans, 15,000 fewer than Shea. The park is enclosed and many seats wrap around the outfield, so it feels much cozier than Shea’s open-ended bowl, which favored watching football.

During an extensive tour of Citi Field on Tuesday, Jeff Wilpon, the team’s chief operating officer, spoke in the Acela Club, a restaurant in left field that will have 550 seats, table service, a bar and wine cabinets for frequent patrons.

“There’s all this light and air, and then you’re looking back at the field,” Wilpon said. “We want to make people feel they’re in a living room.”

The seats throughout the stadium are angled toward the center of the infield, reducing the need for fans, particularly on the field level, to crane their necks toward home plate.

Sitting in their seats, few fans will see the chop shops in Willets Point, the cars roaring past on the Van Wyck Expressway, the subway yards to the south or the U-Haul sign. They will still get a crystal-clear view of the planes on their final approach to La Guardia Airport. Some things never change.

Citi Field has many nooks and crannies that are nothing like Shea’s tired symmetry. The grandstand that hangs over right field, for instance, was inspired by the old Tiger Stadium, which Wilpon visited with his grandparents as a child. Fans in center field will get a bull’s-eye view of the bullpens, with Aaron Heilman only in the visitors’ half, which is on a slightly raised level, with some protection from fan saliva.

The 16-foot wall that rings much of the outfield means an Endy Chávez-like catch is unlikely, though.

Not least of the crimes for which the 60s and 70s have to answer is the relentlessly ugly and anti-human string of sports venues they inflicted upon us.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at March 5, 2009 10:05 AM
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