I lived just outside of NYC for the first 39 years of my life. We moved away 16 years ago this October, and I haven’t been back much since then. Through it all, I remained a devoted Mets fan. Every spring I purchased the MLB pack and streamed as many games as I could.
After securing tickets to Springsteen on Broadway, I decided to see if the Mets were in town that weekend as well. They were! I picked up a ticket to the Friday evening game. As I flew into LaGuardia Airport that morning, I wasn’t too hopeful that the game would be played. Tropical Storm Elsa was unleashing downpours on the area. By noon, however, the skies were clearing and I was in luck!
I’d never been to Citifield before. Growing up, I was a faithful fan and a regular one at Shea Stadium. I went about once a month from the mid-70’s for about 20 years. In 1988, I worked for a company that had a box behind the Mets dugout in the same row as the Mets owners.
When they imploded Shea Stadium and the place I’d spent so much of my life was gone, I felt a deep sadness. I didn’t know if I’d ever get the chance to visit CitiField.
I liked the entrance to CitiField quite a bit. Rather than many gates at various intervals around the stadium, CitiField has a main entrance rotunda. There’s a tribute to Jackie Robinson there, as well as the Mets Team Shop. I was tempted to buy something, but I’d already spent far too much money earlier that day in the Harry Potter Store in NYC.
I’d picked really nice seats behind the visitor’s dugout. This way, I could see the action in the Mets dugout. There was a nice mural right where I was sitting too. CitiField is definitely smaller than Shea Stadium was. It doesn’t feel as majestic as it did when I would walk through the tunnels out to Shea Stadium. CitiField is more intimate. It’s not a bad thing; it’s just a different feel. In some ways, it’s good that they weren’t trying to duplicate Shea.
One of the first things I did was have a drink and toast my friend Mark Fendrick, who passed just a few days before. We’d known each other for more than 20 years through a Disney fan group. Both of us being New Yorkers, we gravitated to each other. He was a big Mets fan like me, and was coaching me about this trip to CitiField.
The game I saw was magnificent. Pete Alonso hit a homerun and there was a grand slam by Francisco Lindor.
The food offerings are much improved over Shea Stadium, that’s for sure. I had a macaroni and cheese with brisket from the BBQ stand in the food court behind the outfield. There are a lot of different offerings out there, as well as a Shake Shack. I grabbed the ice cream above just before I left the stadium due to a thunderstorm. With the Mets up by 10 runs, I wasn’t waiting for the storm to end.
I found it easier to get off and on the #7 subway line at CitiField. I’m not sure if the station was completely redesigned since I last used it or if was a result of less crowds, still, due to the pandemic.
I felt right at home at CitiField, which I wasn’t expecting. I was expecting to miss the stadium that was such a part of my life for so long. In addition to the Mets, I saw The Who and The Clash there; The Police; The Rolling Stones. I think I’ll be back again and bring my family to enjoy the stadium. Yes, it’s more expensive than the $4 field box tickets I used to buy around 1977, but I saw a great game and really enjoyed being there.