THE CITI FIELD INSIDER’S GUIDE.

Mr. met

Baseball's Best Mascot

Citi Field is big, and there is a lot to see, and while I have already written what many people feel is the definitive guide to the ballpark, there is still a lot to digest. So if I was taking you to the ballpark as my guest, here’s how we would do things.

First of all, you should arrive early. The gates open at 4:10pm for a evening game, 11:30am for a 1:10pm game. On weekdays, the express 7 train starts running towards Flushing as early as 3pm and it takes 30 minutes. On weekends, you have to take the local train and that takes about 40-45 minutes. Getting to Willets Point early means you have the place to yourself, especially on a weekday. It gives you time to take your photo in front of the Apple, to see the Shea markers, and to walk around Citi Field (at least do the 3/4 circuit) to see all of the gates, and to – I can’t believe I’m saying this – see the historic imagery around the park, including banners and plaques! These are new in 2010. It is exciting.

When you’re done, get in line back at the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. This is the gate that opens early. When you walk in, head straight ahead – not up the escalators – and to your right to get on line for the Mets Hall of Fame. Don’t be distracted by the rotunda – it will be there, and I think it’s best experienced at night, after the game – and that big blue 42 will be waiting for you then as well.

(I am not telling you to get into position for batting practice, because the Mets revoked their once wonderful access and shoved us into the left and right field corners, where you will compete with every autograph hound in the tri-state area, as well as hordes of children. You can’t see anything so it’s not worth it any more – unless of course you have tickets for those sections in which case you don’t need to battle anyone for access, so take your time.)

After the Hall of Fame, which will probably take you 20-40 minutes, depending on your need for detail – head up the stairs to the field level. If you want Shake Shack, now’s the time to get online for it. Don’t wait. The food is out in the plaza behind the scoreboard, out in center field. You want to get there by heading around the right field line. You want to do that so you can see the shea bridge, and so you can see the ballpark unfold before you as you come around the curve. It’s my favorite part of the ballpark.

[If you don’t want Shake Shack, you can head to the World’s Fare Market in the right field corner to get a Mama’s special, and the gluten-free stand is over there too. Dave Pasternak’s catch of the day is just before the Shea bridge. If you want something else, the food map is here – this is the insider’s guide, remember?]

There will be a traffic jam as you hit the bridge due to all the looky-lous. The shiny new industrial Home Run Apple will be up. You can see the retired numbers and the pennants against the left field wall. The bullpens are below the bridge, but you can’t get into the seats right above them unless you’re ticketed for them. (You can get into the seats on either side, but don’t hold me responsible if you can’t.) Take your photos and keep heading forward.

Shake Shack is straight ahead, underneath the skyline from the old Shea scoreboard. Even if you don’t want Shake Shack, you should go there just to see it. If the line is too long, pick Blue Smoke or my favorite, El Verano, also there. If there are multiple members of your party, have one person hold a table while the other waits on the food line.

Just beyond the food court is “Kiddie Field”. Even if you don’t have children, this area may interest you because Mr. Met shows up there around 5:30-6pm for photographs. (You know you love him. He has a GIANT BASEBALL for a head. Even if you think you don’t love him, once you see him in person, all bets are off. Even grown men fight to have their photographs taken with Mr. Met.)

Once you’re fed and watered, you have a couple of recommended destinations available to you:

1) The Pepsi Porch: to get here, you need to head back across the Shea Bridge to the right field corner, where you will find an escalator. Take it up one level and walk straight ahead. (You can’t explore the rest of the third level unless you have a ticket for it.) Enjoy the lovely view of the… chop shops of willets point. I am actually endorsing this because it reminds you that you’re actually in a city. Remember (or learn) that this area was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Valley of Ashes” in The Great Gatsby.

2) Head for the best view in the ballpark, on the promenade level. To get there, head to the ramps in the left field corner. (You can also walk up the stairs to get there, or take an elevator. If you are coming from the Pepsi Porch, walk back across the bridge to the escalator, and then take it up one more level.) When you get to the top, you have a remnant of the gorgeous views we had from the Shea ramps, and can watch the planes taking off and landing at LaGuardia. If you are sitting with us in the People’s Seats, welcome.

When you leave after the game, take the stairs down, but not all the way – take them as far as the field level, and exit to go out through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. It is a quiet time (believe it or not) to see it for yourself, and I think it is nicer in the nighttime.

The 7 Baseball Special runs for an hour after the last out, but don’t dawdle unless you want the dime tour of Queens. It’s a 40 minute ride back to Manhattan that makes every stop vs. a 20 minute ride that makes 5 stops.

This is all recommended, of course, and assumes that you have unlimited time and aren’t herding a family of six. But hopefully it will give you an idea of the place so you can make your own Citi Field tour.

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