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Citi Field Review

By Jason Levy

I picked the perfect day to head out to Citi Field for the first time on Saturday, May 9th. It was an overcast but warm day, and the New York Mets put on a hitting clinic against the Pittsburgh Pirates best pitcher behind a solid John Maine outing for their sixth straight win and to leapfrog the Philadelphia Phillies into first place in the NL East. Mets fans are much calmer these days as the rotation has settled down, the bullpen holds on to leads and the hitters can finally get hits with runners on base and Johan Santana and Carlos Beltran are on track for award-winning seasons. But today, it’s all about the new home of the Mets. And while some Mets fans have fond memories of Shea and enjoyed its quirks (I always enjoyed the rainbow of seats as they changed from one level to the next, it always made finding your seat easier) but those memories fade when you first set your eyes upon Citi Field.
The Jackie Robinson Rotunda is a marvelous and respectful monument to one of the greatest players to ever take the field who did so under immeasurable pressure. He may have never been a Met, but #42’s impact on the game is a part of every team, and it is only fitting for this to be in the city where he played his entire career. But if you really want to see some Mets gear, check out the team store in the rotunda for just about anything Mets.
You’ll quickly remember you’re not in Shea anymore when you stroll around the wide-open and clean concourses that allow for throng of people to walk around before, during, and after the game without being squeezed on top of each other. And if that’s not enough the bathrooms are so much cleaner than Shea that you’ll fill up on beer and/or soda just so you can use them and listen to the WFAN play-by-play as you go. There are also multiple elevators through out the stadium, compared to the lone lift at Shea. As I told the elevator attendant, I never rode the elevator at Shea, but I couldn’t imagine they were this nice.
Some fans have complained about obstructed view seats from the upper levels, but there are more good seats than bad ones. The Pepsi Porch in right field provides a unique view of the field that many Mets fans are not used to. With it’s own concession stand behind the seats and the flagpoles featuring all the Mets pennants, the Pepsi Porch can be a special place. The seats in the promenade behind home plate offer views of the whole field while still feeling close to the action. My seats in section 339, the second level of the left field landing right next to the scoreboard offered a perfect sight line to home and the pitchers mound and a great view of the rest of the stadium. The Mets made a nice move adding more outfield seats to give fans a new way to watch the game. The only drawbacks were not being able to see the warning track in center and left and not being able to see the out-of-town scoreboards that are much more detailed now. But even so, they were still fantastic seats.
The center field concourse gives fans the chance to walk around and still see every pitch. On a beautiful day, you might not want to leave. The Bridge in right-center adds a classic New York touch as it leads fans to the concession area. The area reminded me very much of the Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park, especially the center field concourse and construct of the stadium, but with a much bigger playing field catering to pitchers. There is also a kids area, complete with a mini-field, dunk tank with a guy wearing the jersey of the opposing team, and a video game setup. I only wish Shea had this when I was a kid.
But the best thing about the new stadium is by far the food. While Shea’s concessions were standard ballpark fare that always made you regret spending so much on something so mundane, the food and Citi Field is exceptional no matter what you are looking for. And when you consider the quality of the food, the price won’t force you to take out a loan. Cascarino’s Pizza came highly recommended from Gary, Keith and Ron during an early broadcast, and it did not disappoint.
If you’re looking for the perfect french fry, there are several options. Just about every concession stand has there own fries, and Nathan’s are throughout the stadium. But the best fries can be found at Box Frites in center field. Thick and crispy with some seasoning, they come with five custom dipping sauces (I recommend the chipotle garlic) that will please the taste buds of every fan. Plus, near ever concession stand that sells hot dogs, burgers, or sausages (the smell of sausage and peppers fills many of the concourses) is a condiment bar, stocked with ketchup, mustard, relish, sauerkraut, onions, jalapeƱos, lettuce and tomato so you can customize your meal to your liking (a Cascarino’s pepperoni slice with onions and jalapeƱos really hit the spot). But the most popular concession was by Shake Shack and their terrific milkshakes. Even at the seventh inning stretch the line stretched as far as it could, but it is worth the wait. And waiting on line in center field isn’t as bad as you’d think as every concessions has TV’s tuned to the game and the scoreboard in center is two-sided, allowing every fan to not miss a minute while waiting for their food.
If you’re looking for some untraditional ballpark fare, check out the World’s Fair Market in right field, stocked with sushi, salads, Italian sandwiches and desserts, and prepackaged treats for fans looking for something different. Blue Smoke has some nice barbequed cuisine, and El Verano Taqueria offers Mexican food that was very popular throughout the day. Most of the unique concessions were in center field, but there are quality concessions throughout the ballpark.
If you haven’t made it out to Citi Field yet, what are you waiting for? The stadium is beautiful, the food is superb, and the Mets are winning. So take the kiddies, take the wife, and you’re guaranteed to have the time of your life.

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