THE 2011 METSGRRL.COM GUIDE TO CITI FIELD.

2011 UPDATE IN PROGRESS: Key things updated, like new gate opening times, ticketing options & service charges, and tour info. I need a few more visits before it’s finalized.

Welcome to Citi Field, home of the 2011 New York Mets. This is the fan guide, the unofficial guide, the list of things that I, as a fan coming to visit the place, would want to know. it is not meant to replace any official information offered by the Mets and MLB, which should remain your official source of information.

This guide to Citi Field is highly subjective, representing the experience of a Mets fan who goes to 25-30 games a year. Your mileage may, and probably will, vary.

I have written an Insider’s Guide to Citi Field for my ballpark travel site, All Down The Line, which is meant as a companion piece to this guide. That’s where I summarize my personal recommendations for the best experience of Citi Field. So if you have limited time, please read that.

BALLPARK TOURS

The Mets offer tours of Citi Field. Unfortunately for out of town visitors, they offer them when the team is on the road. You can buy tickets on mets.com. (The page says “Fall” but if you click on the ‘buy tickets’ link, it offers tours for April, May and June.) If you are coming from out of town, I would suggest you buy the tickets in advance. It’s a schlep out to Citi Field and nothing to do in the area if you get there and can’t get on a tour.

You can read my review of one of the first tours.

Many people write asking if it’s worth coming out to the park when the Mets are out of town to try to get a glimpse of the field. The best you could do is to get a small peek through the Bullpen Gate, through the bullpens. Keep in mind that standing as close to the bullpens as you can, the view looks like this. If you’re desperate, that might do in a pinch, but I wouldn’t recommend coming out to Citi Field just to do that.

BUYING TICKETS:

For 2011, it all depends on your level of risk. If I was traveling with a family of four for a Saturday game in June, I would probably not wait until the day of the game to buy my tickets at the ballpark. However, 2011 will largely be a buyer’s market for Mets tickets. Even Opening Day, which was “officially” Sold Out, had bargains available day of game on StubHub.

There are several new ticketing incentives for 2011 as of this writing: BJ’s Clubhouse (formerly Mr. Met’s Landing), the “Ulti-met Ticket”, a McDonald’s promotion, and a Pepsi Porch deal.

BJ’s Clubhouse offers $10 tickets for kids, $20 for adults, and promises an in-game visit from Mr. Met. These are seats in the second level out in left field. Although they are partially covered, this section is in the sun all day during a day game. There is also limited scoreboard visibility from those seats. (See my notes on the Left Field Landing below.)

The “Ulti-met Ticket” gives you $12 worth of food for $10 and is available for any section of the ballpark. You show your ticket to get the discount. I am hard pressed to find this any kind of bargain.

The McDonald’s promotion is more interesting, in that it provides a 50% discount on your ticket price in return for a $1 to Ronald McDonald house. However, this is only available for the mid-range seats in the ballpark, not the cheapest or the most expensive. It is also only offered for midweek games. You would do better on Stubhub.

BUYING ON THE SECONDARY MARKET:

We have better luck on eBay than Stubhub, and on eBay, at least, there isn’t a 15% markup on every ticket like there is for StubHub. We buy on eBay regularly and have never had a problem – just be smart about it, and never ever buy Ticketfast (aka “Print at home” tickets from anyone) UNLESS you are doing an official ticket transfer from a season or plan ticket holder via the Mets. On StubHub, they check the bar codes – you don’t even ship people tickets any more – so you should be fine.

Season ticket holders have early access to the ballpark on Saturdays and Sundays. This is something to keep in mind when purchasing tickets on the secondary market, as it’ll get you a good spot for photographs during BP or even just in the Shake Shack line before the hordes. Here’s what the 2011 Season Ticket stock looks like.

METS TICKET SERVICE CHARGES:

On top of the face value, you pay:

  • Ticket fee. Varies based on the face value of the ticket. For a $12 Promenade Resrved ticket, it’s an additional $3 fee. For a $325 Delta Club Gold seat, it’s an additional $17 fee.
  • $5 per order “order charge”
  • A delivery charge, which varies by which method you choose: $2.50 print at home, $4.00 mail, or $15 UPS. If you are buying tickets for a game within the next 2 weeks, you can choose to pick up your ticket at the ballpark for no charge.

Standing Room tickets at Citi Field: While there are places all around the field level where you can officially and freely stand to watch the game, you cannot buy a standing room ticket. The Mets do not sell standing room. You can buy the cheapest ticket in the ballpark and then stand behind the handicapped areas at the top of the field level seats. There are even drink holders.

Big Apple seats/Bridge Terrace seats outfield bleachers/picnic areas: There are no bleachers at Citi Field. There are seats in the outfield near the new Home Run Apple that serve the same purpose as the former bleachers in that they are aimed at accommodating groups. These show up in the dropdown menu on Mets.com as a ticketing option, but you can’t buy them – that’s because they are being sold to groups now. It’s the same with the Bridge Terrace seats – it’s a group seating option only. If you are interested in sitting there, pick up the phone and call 718-507-TIXX and see what they can do.

WHERE TO SIT AT CITI FIELD:

First things first: let’s break down what the various levels are called and where they are. It’s confusing, because there’s the corporate sponsor name for things, and then the permanent name, so that when the Delta Club becomes the JetBlue Club they don’t have to change all the damn signs again. This photo should help:

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I will wholeheartedly recommend the Promenade Reserved Infield seats as the best value for money in the ballpark. Promenade Reserved are the cheapest, but those sections are further out, past first or third base on each side. Promenade or Promenade Infield box are also good values as well.

I think that the Pepsi Porch and Excelsior seats are overpriced for what they are, and while obviously field level seats are awesome, they are also awesomely expensive. If you’re coming to the ballpark from any place in the country besides LA or maybe San Francisco, you will have sticker shock.

You know if you have club access – and which clubs you have access to – because your ticket will explicitly state which clubs you have access to. You have to show your tickets to get into the clubs. Security will not let you in to look around, to cut through, to use a bathroom – you can try but I’ve never heard of anyone getting away with it.

Obstructed views

Everyone has heard of the infamous problems with what the fans call “obstructed view” and the Mets call “blind spots”. This is only a problem on the Promenade level. Here’s an example:

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See the bottom of the aisle, where the staircase up to the section is? See the plexiglass around that staircase? If you’re sitting lower down, that plexiglass & the railings can block your view of the infield.

Generally speaking, it seems that seats along the right field line – on every level – have less problems than seats along the left field line. This is highly anecdotal, gathered from conversations and other reports online. It also seems that rows 1-3 of the Promenade and Excelsior level have more problems than seats higher up due to plexiglass barriers and railings (and on the promenade, the ribbon boards). I’ll provide more info about those levels below.

If you sit on the left field side on any level, you will not see the out of town scoreboard.

Shade at Citi Field: If you want to sit in the shade, or have shade reach you at some point during the day, you want to sit from about the far edge of the Mets dugout to the left field corner just before the foul pole. Do NOT sit in left field at all, do not sit in the Pepsi Porch.

Field Level: I am told by plan ticket holders on this level that if you are along the left field line, even just past third base, you cannot see into the corner. Otherwise – it’s the field level. Only the very high rows are covered, except in far left and right field.

The level above the field level is a party suite level, the Empire Level. I saw it on the tour. You can see some photos here. Don’t get me wrong – the suites are really nice. They’re just not part of my day to day experience as a Mets fan.

Excelsior Level: The Excelsior level has three main areas: the Caesar’s Club, the Left Field Landing, and the Acela Club Restaurant, and then there is the Pepsi Porch. More on those below. You cannot walk 360 degrees around on this level unless you are ticketed for the Caesar’s Club level – this is important – and two of the seating areas (Left Field Landing and Pepsi Porch) you can only get to by the stairs or escalators in the left and right field corners. You cannot get into the Caesar’s Club level – which is most of this level – without a ticket for it. You cannot go find a friend, you cannot take a walk through to see what it’s like, you can’t cut through because you made a mistake and need to get to the other side.

Caesar’s Club: This is the ‘premium’ level, which is 70% covered, and has bars throughout the section and a Caesar’s Club restaurant, which is behind home plate, and does not have a dress code. They have improved the food offerings this year, but for all intents and purposes it is a glorified Aramark stand with some nice leather couches. It’s a nice place to sit out a rain delay, but otherwise, I’m not sure what the attraction is. The bars – which have windows to the outside and some nice views of Manhattan – are kind of nice, I have to admit. If you are along the left field line (even section 329) you cannot see into the left field corner. You cannot get into anywhere on this level without a ticket for it.

The other premium club members can use this space but I’m not sure why they would bother.

Left Field Landing: These are normal seats out along left field. They are also partially covered. You can only get there from the escalator on the field level in left field, and from the stairs in that area. It does offer easy access to the premium food out in centerfield, since it’s just down a level.

The Acela Club restaurant: They have expanded the access to the Acela Club this year, but if you’re sitting in the cheap seats anywhere, assume that you do not have access. The dress code is fairly flexible, and does allow jeans, but doesn’t allow tank tops or t-shirts. There are various seatings, some before the game, some during the game. If your ticket tells you have access, call and get the particulars. I have heard very mixed reports on the food, but hope to experience this for myself this year.

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Pepsi Porch: You have to like sitting in the outfield to enjoy yourself out here, and of course, many people do. I am the wrong person to offer an opinion on this because I don’t like sitting in the outfield. If you’re up there, you are pretty isolated; they have their own concessions, and you can’t walk around on the level because it’s the Excelsior level and that’s closed unless you’re ticketed for it. You can only get up to the Porch from the stairs, elevator or escalator in the right field corner.

CLUB ACCESS: This helpful chart on the website outlines which ticket levels have access to which clubs. But just look at your ticket. It will tell you exactly which clubs you have access to.

There is no “all you can eat” section at Citi Field, nor does access to any club give you free food. (Except the teeny tiny Delta Club Solid Rhodium or whatever it’s called, the swanky club for the most expensive seats behind home plate, and it’s just a couple of snack-type things.)

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Promenade Level: Welcome to the People’s Seats. If you want to know what the view is like, look at any post from any game in 2009 or 2010; that’s where my seats are. There is a Promenade Club, which has been improved for 2010, but it is still a tiny room with Aramark food that can be had via table service only. You will know if you have access because it will be listed on your ticket.

The beauty of the level is the area behind home plate, on top of the rotunda. Sitting here in the sun before the game starts, eating your hot dog, is just awesome. There is a Mama’s stand up here, even.

The Promenade seems to have the worst visibility problems. The first row of the boxes seems to have problems because of the ribbon boards along the edge of the level. (The back row is supposed to be awesome because you have space behind your seat to stash your stuff.)

DUGOUTS: The visitor’s dugout at Citi Field is on the third base side.

GETTING TO THE BALLPARK:

You can take the 7 train, you can take the Long Island Rail Road (aka LIRR), or you can drive. (There are probably other methods, like charter buses, or the ferry from the Jersey Shore, but I am dealing with the three methods above.) The train station is not part of the ballpark; you do not need a ticket to the game to get off the train at the Citi Field stop.

7 Train (NYC Subway)

If you are visiting the park for the first time and want a real NYC ballpark experience, you will take the 7 train. The 7 train is fast, convenient, inexpensive and perfectly safe. It starts in Manhattan at Times Square, stops at 42nd St. and 5th Avenue (near the Library) and then again at Grand Central Terminal before going under the river and emerging on the other side in Queens. The train runs express out to Queens during evening rush hour, and after the game, there are ‘super-express’ trains that make limited express stops back to Manhattan – no more milk train from hell. End to end, it’s 40 minutes. You’ll ride the train with commuters and students and other Mets fans and fans of the opposing team, and since the train runs above-ground in Queens, you’ll actually get to see some of New York City that’s not Manhattan. So take the 7 train.

Now, if you don’t like mixing with other people of different ethnicities, or you’re John Rocker – don’t take the 7 train. But in that case I would advise you to not come to New York, either.

The stop is METS – WILLETS POINT, even if the subway maps will still say WILLETS POINT – SHEA STADIUM. But the train runs above ground, you’ll see the ballpark before the stop. The ballpark will be on the left side of the train, if you want to watch for it. (On your right will be the US Open grounds, which many first-time visitors get excited about, thinking it’s the baseball stadium.)

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The 7 train still has an open window on the front of the train in case you want to watch while you ride.

Subway fare is now $2.25 each way for a single ride as of July 2009. (It is less if you buy a weekly or daily card, which may make sense if you are visiting for a few days. You need 4 or more trips to make the daily card economical.) You need to buy a Metrocard to pay your fare, swiping at the turnstile. For the love of all that’s good and holy, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH TO PAY YOUR FARE COMING HOME. If you aren’t sure, or need to put more money on your Metrocard, do it when you get to the ballpark, or do it before you get on the train coming out. Don’t be that person standing at the turnstile when the game is over, swiping your card again and again, with the display reading INSUFFICIENT FARE. Then you have to go all the way back downstairs and get in the line to fill your card back up, and you’ve annoyed every Mets fan in the metropolitan area in the process. It is astonishing to me how many people have no idea how much money is on their card and end up standing there with hundreds of people behind them.

All trains stop at the ballpark stop, but you really want an express. How do you know it’s an express train? Look for a red diamond lit up around the 7 in the side windows. A round green circle indicates a local train. Also, the conductor will announce it (if you can hear it) and if you get on at Grand Central or Times Square, there’s usually someone on the platform with a megaphone (this is during rush hour during the week only.)

However, if you find you’ve gotten on the local instead, don’t panic. IT GOES TO THE SAME PLACE. Sometimes I actively choose to get on a local so i can have a seat. It’s going to add 10-15 minutes to your travel time at the most.

DON’T TAKE A CAB. JUST DON’T, UNLESS THE 7 TRAIN STOPS RUNNING (in which case we probably have bigger problems on our hands). You can, but you’ll sit in traffic and it will cost you a fortune and if you’re that scared of people in New York, don’t come here. There is absolutely no reason to take a cab to Citi Field UNLESS you are coming here straight from LaGuardia Airport, which is right next to the ballpark. Also, you assume that every cab driver knows how to get to Citi Field – that’s a pretty big assumption and one that could cost you a lot of money. (Cab drivers in NYC do not have to pass any kind of knowledge test.) And whatever you do, don’t just get in the cab and ask to be taken to “the ballpark” or “the baseball stadium”. You’ll end up on 161st St. in the Bronx, guaranteed.

Taking a cab will not be quicker or save you money. I really do have your best interests at heart.

You could walk from La Guardia to Citi Field but I wouldn’t recommend it. Just take a cab.

Other routes:
The Long Island Rail Road runs from Penn Station (34th Street). It only stops at the ballpark when there’s a game. You have to buy a ticket in advance. The link for LIRR info is here. No, I am not an advocate of this route, unless you live in Jersey and have to commute to the games regularly, then I completely understand it. But a one time visitor to our great city should experience the subway.

If you really, really need more help in figuring out how to get to Citi Field from Long Island or New Jersey, HopStop is a good start.

Driving:
Parking is still $19. There is unofficial parking, but unless you’re a local, it’s too hard to explain – and I’m also not going to document the unofficial parking on the internet because it would then become OFFICIAL parking very quickly. I know people have done this, I strongly disagree with them having done so, which is why I am not linking to them.

Take public transportation. It’s better for you.

ARRIVING AT THE BALLPARK:

The subway platform is elevated. During 80% of the year, there is one exit: you walk downstairs and follow the crowd. One side goes off to the World’s Fair grounds and the tennis stadium, and there is a sign reading TENNIS. Then there’s the side where the ballpark is, and it says METS BASEBALL.

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Isn’t it awesome?

When the US Open is in season, you just want to make sure you head towards the ballpark. Follow the people wearing Mets stuff.

There are public bathrooms in the subway station, but as a New Yorker, I cannot envision any situation where I would use them if I was going to a game. Just sayin’.

For photography and history buffs, there are some old legacy Shea Stadium signs on the Manhattan-bound local platform, in about the middle of the platform. Unfortunately, the only way to get close to them with the new subway station layout would be to go downstairs and then re-enter the subway system again since they’re on the other side of the turnstiles. (The entrances used to be downstairs so you could have crossed over without paying another fare.) The bonus here is if you walk all the way to the front of the platform, it gives you the perfect angle to take a wide shot of all of Citi Field. To me it would be worth the extra $2 for both of those things.

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The subway stop for Citi Field is RIGHT AT THE BALLPARK. It’s not around a corner or down the street, you walk down the stairs and it’s right in front of you.

You will be greeted by the old Home Run Apple from Shea:

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As of 2011, they have created a little flagstone path up to the Apple for picture-taking purposes.

Ahead of you is the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. On the plaza in front of the rotunda is the “Mets Fan Walk,” where fans were coerced out of hard-earned cash to have their name on a brick in front of the new place. Take some time to read some of the bricks. There are some definite gems. There are now also special commemorative plaques within the fan bricks now as well, highlighting important moments in Mets history. Here’s a small selection:

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To the right as you’re facing the rotunda is the main Team Store. It used to be open on non-game days and before the gates opened, but now they took over part of it for the Hall of Fame. It is also open after the game. It is not a great store. You are better off going upstairs to the one just to your right on the field level.

SHEA STADIUM MARKERS

As you leave the subway and walk towards Citi Field, the brass markers for Shea are located in the parking lot on your right between sections B and D. (Look for the signs on the light poles.) In a move uncharacteristically fan-friendly, the parking rows are positioned so the markers are in the aisles and as such are visible at all times – no one can park on the markers.

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All of the bases are marked, in addition to home plate and the pitching rubber. I would recommend that you start or finish (if you’re at a day game) your visit to Citi Field with this part of the ballpark.

They have also put up banners commemorating current and future players on lightpoles around the perimeter of the ballpark.

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EARLY OPENING – UPDATED FOR 2011

The Mets have curtailed their early opening times. Citi Field no longer opens 2 1/2 hours before game time. This will mean that fans will not be able to see the Mets starters taking batting practice.

Opening Day, April 8 and Subway Series Friday, July 1 – Sunday, July 3 – All gates open 2 1/2 hours before the game.

Monday-Friday/Weekday Games – Rotunda and Hodges VIP Entrance open 2 hours before the game. All other gates 1 1/2 hours prior to the game.

Saturday & Sunday Games – Rotunda and Hodges VIP Entrance open 2 hours before the game. All other gates 1 1/2 hours prior to the game. Rotunda opens 2 1/2 hours before the game for Mets Season Ticket Holders.

THERE IS NO GUARANTEE THAT THERE WILL BE BP. Day game after a night game, assume no BP, but that can change. The Mets do not have a batting practice status hotline, and if you call the main number, you will not get an answer, or that answer will be wrong. The gates do open early even if there is no BP, so you can go in and walk around.

There is more about batting practice below.

SECURITY

You *can* bring food and water into Citi Field. The standard MLB bag sizes apply, and while I’ve never seen them turn away someone’s bag for being too big, there is no bag check and something that is too big to fit under your seat will likely be turned away.

The new stated policy as of the 2010 season is: 1 soft (eg plastic, not glass or metal) SEALED bottle of water, up to 20 oz, or one soft-side juice box per person.

Do not bring your good Nalgene or SIGG or Klean Kanteen type bottle to Citi Field, it will be taken from you at the entrance. (So much for their “green initiatives”.) You may be able to get in with an empty beverage bottle which you can fill at a water fountain, but that may depend on the mood of your security guard that day.

Every year there is a rumor that they are confiscating sunscreen. What they are confiscating are AEROSOL CANS of sunscreen. Aerosols and cans have always been prohibited.

You *can* bring your camera into Citi Field. I’ve seen guys with professional lenses sitting in the field level shooting, but if you call the Mets and ask they will tell you something like “200mm is too big” or “no professional cameras”. I’ve walked in there with a D40 and a 18-200mm lens for every game of the 2009 season, many times blatantly hanging around my neck to make the bag check process easier, and I have never ever had a problem. I think that basically as long as you’re not getting in anyone’s way with your equipment, no one will care.

THERE IS NO BAG CHECK at Citi Field. Don’t bring your suitcase from LaGuardia or cart your large backpack along. Shopping bags will probably make it through but just go back to the hotel and dump your stuff before coming to the ballpark. We have more legroom now but it’s still not spacious by any means. Plus someone will spill beer on your new whatever that you just bought at Macy’s and then what? There isn’t a restaurant or a bar or a store or a bowling alley or anything near Citi Field that you might be able to throw $20 to to watch your bag during the game. There is no bag check at Grand Central. There is, however, one at Penn Station, at least according to the internets. I cannot vouch for this or guarantee it so please don’t get angry at me when it’s not open or it isn’t open late enough. You know there’s no bag check at the ballpark, so please make arrangements accordingly.

ENTRANCES TO THE BALLPARK

There are four gates: the Jackie Robinson Rotunda (Gate JRR – behind home plate), Left Field, Right Field, and the Bulllpen Gate. If you want to enter the ballpark early, you have to go through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. If you’re not there early, I recommend you use the Right Field or Bullpen Gates as they are never, ever as crowded since they are further away from the subway and parking. The Bullpen gate is the closest to the much-vaunted premium food options out in center field, and is also the home of the old Home Run Apple and the championship banners from Shea. This is the closest we have to a Hall of Fame right now. The Left Field gate has some of the only strongly historical Mets-centric imagery you will see in the entire park. They put a lot of thought into it, so it’s worth taking a stroll down to check it out.

You cannot see the field from the outside – you have to go up the escalators in the rotunda, and then around the suites, before you can see the field. So don’t schlep out here if the Mets are on the road hoping for a peek into the field because there’s no physical way to do it. You get a smidgen of a peek at the Bullpen Gate, but I wouldn’t take a trip out just to see it.

The Rotunda is not open outside of gamedays to the general public.

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Additionally, every gate has its own theme:

Left Field:

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Endy Chavez.

Bullpen Gate:

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Tom Seaver.

Right Field:

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Ron Swoboda.

The VIP entrances are now named! The third base VIP entrance is Seaver, first base is Hodges, left field is Stengel.

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And, of course, the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.

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Entrance Strategies:

If you’re at the ballpark early, and want to go in early, you have to go in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. There will be a line. They try to move it along pretty quickly. The problem is usually with the fans and not the security. The Hall of Fame is immediately to your right. (More on this below.)

The Right Field gate, while the most boring gate out of the four of them, is the closest access to the Pepsi Porch.

The Bullpen gate will get you near the premium food quickly, but it also means you have to go across the Shea bridge – and all traffic crawls to a dead halt when people walk across it.

The Left Field gate has an escalator up to the field level, and also has quick access to another escalator up to the Excelsior and then Promenade levels as well as the Acela Restaurant. There is also an escalator in right field that will take you up to Excelsior and Promenade (and also the closest to the Pepsi Porch). The escalator in center field, closest to the food court, only goes up to the Left Field Landing, you will need to walk up the stairs to get to the Promenade on that side. You CANNOT get to the Caesar’s Club level from that escalator because of the Acela Club.

There are multiple staircases that will take you to every level as well. If you have a stroller or need an elevator, there are now elevators along the left field and right field lines. You can easily get from one level to the next via a combination of escalator and stairs, and it’s not easy to get lost.

The gates at the bottom of the staircases open towards the end of the game. I don’t have an exact time for that, and I doubt I will because I never leave real games early.

Remember: If you have a ticket for the Pepsi Porch, the only way to get up there is from the right field corner. You cannot walk around the Excelsior level to get there. If you go up on the left field side you will have to go up and go back down, or go down and then go up again.

METS HALL OF FAME:

The World Series trophies are located in the Hall of Fame, open on the field level. There will be a line, but it moves quickly. Since our BP access is so crappy, I would suggest that if you arrive early, that you head for the HOF right away and then head for food and the rest of the ballpark.

Here is a post that discusses the Hall of Fame. I need to get back for a more detailed visit, but I can wholeheartedly recommend you spend the time to visit.

The old skyline from the Shea scoreboard is out in the food court. I honestly don’t have a problem with it there, I’m actually astonished that they bothered to save it and didn’t try to sell it.

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BATTING PRACTICE:

With pride, I would tell you that the Mets used to have the most generous BP access in MLB. That is no longer the case now that we have moved to Citi Field. They claimed that it would remain the same, but it has been drastically curtailed.

You cannot go behind the dugout any more unless you have a ticket in that exact section. You cannot even get close to the dugout. You can stand in the outfield, and they will let you down to the field in the corners (section 111), but that’s it.

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That’s as close as you can get.

Frankly I think it’s a waste of your time to get there early if your intent is to watch BP because you can’t get anywhere near the field to see anything worthwhile. It’s just heartbreaking to me, personally. Sure, you can go out in the outfield and scream for balls if you want.

GETTING AUTOGRAPHS AT CITI FIELD:

While the Mets have attempted to improve on this, and allegedly have been sending random players out during certain games to sign autographs, my counsel would still be to not count on getting anything at Citi Field. I know, someone’s going to tell you about the time that David Wright walked over and signed everything for everybody, but the fact remains that the Mets generally are not fan-friendly anywhere. If you are a fan of any other team except the Yankees (who are worse), you will be in for a rude awakening when you realize that you have almost zero chance to get an autograph. Competition is also fierce beyond belief. My best advice to give you is to not count on anything and then be pleasantly surprised if something happens.

BULLPENS:

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They have removed the tarps and angled the bullpens this year, and you can get into the sections on either side of the bullpens during batting practice (but not the sections above, which are zealously guarded by security guards even though I have rarely seen that section full). You can also view into the bullpens through chain link fence downstairs just inside the bullpen gate. (You get there by going to the Shea bridge, there is a staircase on the right field side.) But do not expect a lot. This is the view into the bullpens – through two or three layers of chain link fence and one or two layers of plexiglass.

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Why we bothered to construct open-plan bullpens remains a mystery to just about everyone. The Shea bullpens were more accessible, and Philly seems to do just fine with the bullpen being open despite it being located in the city with the most uncivilized baseball fans in the country.

RETIRED NUMBERS: Are out in left field. There are championship banners out there now too.

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SHOPPING

The new Mets Team Store is a marked improvement on the old one, except for the fact that they still check your receipt like a shoplifter every single time you leave the store with a bag. Don’t put your receipt in your wallet or you won’t be able to leave the store until you show it to security. (They won’t search your other bags if you have them, though. Explain it to me, please.)

If you are looking for player number t-shirts, however, don’t waste your time with the main store, you want the one on the field level not far from home plate.

There are shops on every level. The main Team Store is accessible via the Jackie Robinson Rotunda once the gates open.

The Alyssa Milano store is on the second level (“Excelsior”) in the corner of the outfield. If you do not have a ticket for that level, you have to go to the right field corner and then take the escalator or elevator up one level. (Please see the info above in “Where To Sit” that describes how you can’t do a 360 on that level before you set out from the Left Field Landing to get there.)

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RESTAURANTS / FOOD

Bringing Food into Citi Field

You can bring food into Citi Field. You can bring drinks as well, in sealed plastic bottles, no glass, no cans. We do it every game.

Restaurants and Food in Citi Field

The Acela Club restaurant out in left field requires BOTH a premium/club-level ticket and a reservation. You can’t just roll up and watch the game from there, it’s not Outback in the Outfield or the Hit It Here Cafe. ( There are more details above in the “Where To Sit” section.) Your ticket *will* explicitly state your club access if you have it. The cheaper seats do not have club access.

Neither the Promenade “Club” nor the Caesar’s Club have a dress code. The Acela Club has a dress code, but I ended up wearing a Mets tshirt and sneakers the one time I ate there (post is coming).

The Delta 360 Club does not have a dress code that I am aware of, certainly not for the Market. Here’s my post on the Delta 360 Club.

There are no ‘public’ restaurants at Citi Field. You have to have a ticket to the game (and that ticket has to be at a level that allows you access to a particular restaurant).

SHAKE SHACK, BLUE SMOKE, TAQUERIA, BOX FRITES AND OTHER PREMIUM FOOD OPTIONS:

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This photo was taken at one of the preview games before opening day.

The lines are still horrific for Shake Shack, but not bad at all for anything else. If you want food from the Shack, then you need to go get it as soon as you walk in the ballpark, and if you are there any less than 30 minutes before first pitch, assume that you will still be in line when the game starts. They are all in the same area in the outfield plaza, behind the main scoreboard.

Adjacent to those areas is a huge beer stand, and Nonna Delia pizza. Dig the wood burning ovens.

On the other side of the fan bridge you will find Catch of the Day (seafood-related dishes – to me this stand has been a real disappointment) and other various hot dog stands

In the Right Field corner there is the World’s Fare Market and inside this store you will find our Shea favorites Daruma (sushi) and Mama’s (Italian heroes) as well as Korean food and the Gluten-Free and Vegetarian Stands. There are also nuts, snacks, candy and salads, and there is rarely a line. The Rum bar is over there too.

You will find your Nathans / Italian Sausage / etc. scattered around the park. We are big fans of the nachos deluxe, which are located on the field level in left field, and on the Promenade Level along right field.

Here’s a food map:

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The Mets have their own map online now, but it doesn’t print out well at all.

FOOD/DRINK/HANGING OUT NEAR CITI FIELD:

McFadden’shas opened an outpost that’s on the east side of Citi Field, facing the chop shops. You do not need a ticket for the game to get into McFadden’s, even though you can enter the ballpark through Mc Fadden’s. However, you cannot go in there during a game without leaving the ballpark and forfeiting the ability to re-enter. THERE IS NO RE-ENTRY TO THE BALLPARK FROM MCFADDEN’S DURING THE GAME. I’m putting that in all caps because even though this is a place I will never go, this is quite possibly one of the most idiotic decisions ever. The powers that be are allegedly trying to “fix” this issue but you should make very very very sure this is okay before trying it.

Please note: If your party is mixed, not everyone may feel comfortable in McFadden’s. It’s not my kind of place. But I also know guys who don’t feel comfortable there.

Aside from McFadden’s there is nothing else that resembles a bar or a restaurant near Citi Field. No, seriously, this hasn’t changed since Shea was on the other side of the parking lot. Some day, maybe, the city will tear down the chop shops on the west side of the ballpark, but for now, you are in the middle of nowhere. There are no bars nearby to hang out in or restaurants around the corner to stroll to. Think Miller Park more than Wrigley or Fenway. There’s nowhere to meet, nowhere to hang out, nowhere to get a quick bite either before or after the game. It sucks.

You can get great Korean or Chinese food in Flushing, one subway stop away, and there is probably great Latino food up Roosevelt Avenue. But it’s a serious hike away from the ballpark.

If you want to provision at a grocery store before you get to the ballpark, switch to the local at Junction Boulevard (the last express stop before Willets Point) and get off at 103d Street. There’s a grocery store on the corner that seatmates of ours have provisioned at in the past. Then you can just walk down Roosevelt to the ballpark. It’s not a bad walk.

WEATHER

Night games: Unless it is the middle of July or August, I do not care how warm it is when you left the house, or how sunny it is in Manhattan. It will be 10 degrees colder out at the ballpark in the evening because of the wind that blows in from the water. Shea had its own wind tunnel, and Citi Field has the same, only different. Just assume that you will be cold. You can bring a bag in, so bring that sweatshirt. It is easier to find a place to warm up at Citi Field, but it’s still just going to be cold certain times of the year. At least once a year I underestimate the cold and I am miserable for the entire game – this year it was the end of June and everyone was freezing. This year we ended up buying $30 long sleeve t-shirts during a lengthy rainout because that morning it was hot and miserable, but after the rain, it was almost April cold.

Day games should be safely warm once you’re at the end of June.

VIDEO BOARDS/SCOREBOARDS:

The out of town scoreboard is in left field. It is still very difficult to read at night because the dividers are not visible.

Pitch count and pitch speed are on the ribbon board, and on the large video board in right field.

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Lineups are on the right field board. 15 minutes before first pitch. They will disappear during the anthem and the various special presentations. It is a pet peeve that the lineups are not immediately and always visible once you walk in the ballpark. The Mets say that fans like the trivia and other presentations, we’re not sure why that can’t be confined to the main video board.

There is a new video board out in right field, but it will only be visible and of interest to you if you are sitting on the left side of the stadium.

MR. MET

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Mr. Met is available out in the kid’s area on the field level behind the center field scoreboard before the game, around 5:30-6pm, and also on weekends – but I don’t know the time since I don’t go to weekend games. We used to see Mr. Met a lot more at Shea because there were no concourses. Now we only see him for the t-shirt launch and for the 7th inning stretch. He enters from the right field for the t-shirt launch, and from the left field for the 7th inning stretch. He no longer gets on top of the dugout or rotates sides for the stretch, but is consistently on the warning track just past the dugout in left field. He does, apparently, walk around the concourses.

SMOKING

Yes, Citi Field is a smoke-free facility but there are smoking sections behind Shake Shack (stairs going down) and at the left field gate somewhere. I would ask a security guard when you get to the ballpark where these locations are because it could change and I am just not incented enough to run this information down and keep it up to date.

THINGS TO NOT DO AT CITI FIELD

1. The roll call. Go to the Bronx if you want to pull that shit.
2. The Wave. I don’t care if someone wearing a David Wright jersey starts it first.
3. Wear gear of a team that is not playing the Mets. I’m not talking about the two guys from Kansas City wearing their hats while touring every baseball stadium in America, or the various Twins fans who show up for Johan Santana starts wearing their old 57 jerseys. I’m talking about the morons who show up decked out like their team was actually playing. (Yes, this means you, Phillies fans. Winning one World Series does not entitle you to suddenly act like you’re the Yankees. Unless you are playing at our ballpark, have some class and leave your crap at home.)
4. Start the “Yankees suck” chant unless we are actually playing the Yankees. This isn’t Boston.
5. It’s not our tradition to throw back home run balls of the opposing team, but we respect people that do.
6. Sing “Sweet Caroline”.

HOTELS NEAR CITI FIELD:

Stay in Manhattan.

See the section above about how there is nothing near Shea. There is a Holiday Inn we charitably refer to as “across the street from Shea” but it’s across the Grand Central Parkway, which means that walking there is a hike, you’d have to call car service to take you, and then you’d probably just sit in traffic for twice as long as it would have taken you to walk there. Plus, staying out here means there is nothing nearby in terms of amenities.

Shea is near La Guardia Airport, which also has its share of airport hotels, and you could cab it over to the ballpark, or get the shuttle to a bus to the subway to… you get the idea. There are also hotels in downtown Flushing.

However, given that we are in the greatest city in the world, unless you have serious budget constraints, I can’t imagine why you’d stay out near the ballpark, unless you were flying in just to see a game, and flying out early the next day.

While I am happy to help anyone who has read this guide and still has questions, I draw the line at hotel recommendations. It’s a huge city, with hotels to meet every budget; I don’t stay in hotels here; there are web sites that exist JUST to help you make a decision about where to stay. Thanks to our wonderful public transportation system, it doesn’t matter where you stay, you can connect to the 7 train easily.

OFFICIAL A-Z GUIDE

The Mets organization has their official A-Z Guide on mets.com, which I absolutely urge you to peruse in addition to this guide. Think of this as the unofficial companion guide to the Official A-Z. Whenever I go to a new baseball stadium, the first thing I do is read their A-Z. (They are usually more unintentionally funny and more interesting than this one, but maybe I’m prejudiced.)

Comments are deliberately off on this article because while I value corrections or omissions, I do not want to turn this post into another endless debate about the 7 train vs. the LIRR, or try to be a hotel guide (impossible – those sites exist already, please use them) – which is what happened with my Shea guide.

Errors and glaring omissions should be sent to the main email address (metsgrrl at gmail dot com). Within reason I will endeavor to answer any questions not specifically addressed by this guide sent to that address as well. You can also find me on Twitter at metsgrrl.

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