About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Citi Field

Many years ago I was a regular at Shea Stadium with a 60-game ticket plan.  That ended in the mid-1990s.  No money when I started my own business, and the baseball strike cooled my ardor as well.  The ardor is still cooled some.  The "security" restrictions (i.e., the Yankees and Washington Nationals are among the teams that will let you bring in a factory-sealed water bottle but not that same bottle empty) after 9/11 make going to a game less pleasant.  At least with the Kindle I can now bring plenty of reading material just like the old days, gone post 9/11, when I could take in a backpack full of manuscripts and other reading which ain't so easy to fit when the allowable bag size is 16x16x8.    Even though I can now afford even over-priced NYC ballpark tickets, I wasn't rushing to go to the new Yankee Stadium, and the Mets' Citi Field.  (& yes, the Mets do allow plastic bottles full or empty, but no glass or hard containers.)

But when one of my friends ended up with extra tickets for Yankee Stadium this upcoming Wednesday and another told me last weekend the Mets still had seats if we wanted to go for last night's Subway Series game...  Well, I wasn't complaining.

So Citi Field:

Annoyance #1, the city has spent all kinds of big bucks helping to support these stadiums in ways that avoid saying they're actually paying for them.  Providing city-backed bonds, or "infrastructure" improvements, or sweetheart rent deals, etc.  Yet, they haven't found the money to really upgrade the subway stop that's now called Mets/Willets Point.  If you can't navigate stairs, you can kind of get to the stadium from Manhattan or closer-in parts of Queens by taking existing ramps on the wrong side of the stop that lead to a new ramp to street level where you have to cross the street.  Going home, there's still no wheelchair access at all to the Manhattan-bound platform so you would have to take the train one stop further out and then head back in.  That's incredibly obnoxious.  This could easily add a half hour or more to a return trip if you even want to bother trying.

Nice touch #1. while the 60s era circular stairs were taken down in favor or a straight staircase, there's now a really nice promenade leading from the subway to the main entrance, which is much closer to the subway.   If you want to get to the early-opening gate 2 1/2 hours before to see batting practice, you are just steps away from it.

Enh #1.  The exterior of the ballpark is very attractive, but it follows designs intended to relate to a cityscape that doesn't exist around Shea Stadium.

Nice touch #2.  You can circumnavigate the stadium.  I think there's something nice and festive about being able to walk around the entire perimeter of a ballpark and take it all in.  I don't like places like the new Busch or the new Comiskey which turn one wall into a private dead end preserve.  And the new stadium does present a real street front to 126th St.  There's nothing across 126th St. but auto parts junkyards that the city's never bothered to supply with sewers and which they hope to relocate (maybe then the exterior will relate to some cityscape) but at least right on 126th St. there's some real sense of place.  The official entrance to the Mets offices is on an actual city street instead of facing a massive parking lot.

Enh #2.  It's like going to a Marriott.  Everyone's wearing a name tag with the place they live on it.  They're somewhat friendly.  Friendly is nice, but do we need the places on the name tags?  & the vendors (or are we supposed to call them "Hospitality Attendants" now, according to one namem tag I looked at) still have garish uniform colors that make them look like escapees from an Alabama chain gang.

Enh #3.  Nice wide main concourse with good views of the field and plentiful rest rooms and room to walk around and etc. etc.  I would give this a Nice Touch, except this is stuff every new ballpark has so it doesn't make me feel at all special that for these ticket prices and the public subsidies and everything else that we in NYC get to now use a baseball stadium that looks like Camden Yards or Seattle or Nationals Park or...  

Nice Touch #3.  Like many of the new stadiums there's a plaza area back behind the outfield.  What makes this one nice is the Shake Shack.  Some years ago a little outpost by this name opened in Madison Sq. Pk in Manhattan where all the people from Tor Books can wait on line for their entire lunch to buy burgers and fries of rare quality.  Now you can wait on line for the same thing for 30 minutes at Shea Stadium.  Dang this stuff is good.  The burger was very good.  The fries tasted like pieces of potato and had no need of ketchup to be totally chow-downable, and the shake was excellent.  $17 for the meal, but the best food I've ever gotten at a baseball stadium.  

Annoyance #2:  But with all the people waiting on line for Shake Shack and BBQ from Blue Smoke and picture-taking with Mr. Met, the centerfield plaza had no sense of place and no comfort.

Annoyance #3.  And it's hidden behind an advertising bedecked back of one of the scorecards.

Annoyance #4.  And the pre-game music like the during game music was loud and blaring and assaultive and obnoxious and makes me never want to go to Citi Field again.

Enh #3.  For old times sake you do get a nice view from one end of the plaza to the UHaul sign that used to be the Serval Zipper sign that used to be one of the things off in the distance beyond Shea's outfield fence.  I doubt most people will care about this.  But if they do redevelop the auto junkyards I hope they put a street down there so it will protect the view corridor.

Annoyance #5.  We paid $98 for a seat beyond the edge of the outfield fence near to the left field foul pole.  We couldn't see right below in the left field corner.  We couldn't really see deep center field very well. We could see all of the scoreboards with lots of head tilting.  Yeah, tickets are overpriced big time.  This might have been field level, but it wasn't a good seat.  The raking wasn't even so good, so if a tall person were sitting in front of me I wouldn't have seen much.

Enh #4.  But I learned quite a bit about the operations of a Canon HD 100 Camera with Sony monitor attached.

Enh #5.  Way too many advertising signs all over the park, but that's to be as expected as the wide concourse.

Annoyance #6.  Mets got only one hit.  That was one too many.  I'd have rather seen a no-hitter at that point.  And the stadium was full of Yankee fans.

Annoyance #7.  No ramps.  I like walking up and down ramps in ballparks, not stairs that are encased in stairwells with views of nothing.  Not elevators, not escalators.  Ball parks should have ramps.

Nice Touch #4.  We exited thru the Jackie Robinson rotunda, which is very grand and attractive.

Nice Touch #5.  I noticed on my way out more than on my way in how the plazas surrounding the stadium are full or benches or circular floral displays with actual nice places to sit.  It makes waiting for somebody to meet much more pleasant, or to just people watch after a game.  Very very nice.

Because I was going with a friend and waiting on line for Shake Shack, I didn't explore the view from the top row or walk around the entire inside of the stadium.  Because of the head-tilt for the main scoreboards I can't really comment on that part of the experience.  With more annoyances than enhs or nice touches, and with the overpriced tickets, I'm not even sure if I'll be in a great rush to return to the stadium to kind of do the full thing.

1 comment:

hi, it's me! melissa c said...

My husband doesn't take me to baseball games anymore. Guess I'm no fun when I get bored and want to leave before the sixth inning!