- Dave Hanson
Citi Field - New York Mets
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.43
123-01 Roosevelt Avenue Flushing, NY 11368
Year Opened: 2009
New York Citi
It’s a new day at Citi Field. In late 2020, Billionaire Steve Cohen bought the team from the previous regime and immediately changed the vibe surrounding the New York Mets and Citi Field. Winning cures everything. Having an owner who will spare no expense to win is a fast track to that cure. What was already a decent place to see bad baseball has become an excellent place to see great baseball, just know you’ll be charged accordingly.
Citi’s unique location in Flushing, extensive food offerings, and rabid fanbase make visiting the park feel completely different from the experience across town at Yankee Stadium. Citi Field is a world of its own, both of the city and simultaneously removed from the dense urbanity of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Yankee Stadium is a tourist trap that happens to contain a baseball diamond. Citi Field is a proper ballpark. There’s a difference.
Food & Beverage 5
Sports business reporter Darren Rovell once called the Mets food program as “the best in sports.” It’s hard to disagree with that assessment. Citi Field boasts over 100 concession stands and restaurants ranging from simple popcorn stands to the sit-down, glass-walled Caesars Sportsbook Metropolitan Grille overlooking left field to Fuku by celebrity chef David Chang serving mouth-watering spicy chicken sandwiches ($15) in the third base concourse. A Shake Shack sits in center field behind the scoreboard, though this chain’s locations can be found in several places in the city and it is absolutely not worth missing multiple entire innings to stand in line. The Tacocina stand nearby is a much better option anyway, two well-packed tacos for $12 is one of the better deals you’ll find. Pat LaFrieda’s steak sandwiches are available in center field as well, and they are absolutely delightful (skip the Pat LaFrieda cheeseburgers, $15.50, bad). If you’re looking to browse several options at once, the large landing behind home plate on the promenade level essentially serves as a food court, as does the Piazza 31 Club on the Excelsior level (most lower-level tickets come with access to this area, but it does not have a view of the field, nor do the Delta and Hyundai clubs on the 100 level).
The main dining options to avoid are Shake Shack for the reasons stated above and the Caesars Sportsbook Metropolitan Grille, which has limited seating with views of the field and just doesn’t make sense unless there’s a rain delay. The small bar area at Caesar’s entrance, however, is a great place to get a drink when it’s cold or rain starts falling, as it is fully enclosed and offers a view of the field. It is wise to check your ticket to see which club areas you can access, as these clubs tend to house a ton of different concession options. High rollers in the Platinum and Gold sections can enjoy complimentary food and non-alcoholic beverages in the Clover Home Plate Club located under those sections directly behind home plate, and suites are generally all-inclusive. Even the cheap seats have access to the Jim Beam Promenade Club, which offers a view of the field (if you’re tall enough to see over the top row of the 400 level) and some fun alcohol-infused ice cream options. For those who keep kosher, there is a kosher grill in center field near Tacocina.
Beverages are literally everywhere. Nearly every concession stand serves soft drinks, water, and at least a few different beers or hard seltzers. The Coors Light Bar in center field and the Vizzy Seltzer Bar behind home plate in the promenade level offer cans ranging from domestic light tallboys ($15.50) to high-gravity IPA’s ($15.25) to all sorts of hard seltzers ($16.50). The Jim Beam bar in center field offers mixed drinks ($18-$23.75). Wine and hard liquor are also available in multiple areas, including the wine stand behind section 140. The Hornitos Bar behind section 327 and the bar in the left field landing (300 level) sections on the Excelsior level offer a full complement of beverages, and the massive bar in the Piazza 31 club does not seem to be subject to the same cutoff time rules that apply to the rest of the stadium. There are also self-serve Walk Thru Bru stands in the third and first base line concourses offering a wide variety of beers at $15.50-$16.50.
If you like to eat well and enjoy adult beverages at the ballpark, Citi Field is the place for you. Just expect to pay New York prices. Soda costs $7.25. So does a hot dog. It’s a Major League Baseball stadium in New York City. That’s just what it is.
Citi Field is a wonderful place to watch baseball. It is neither the tourist trap of Yankee Stadium or the aging (yet beloved) dump Shea Stadium was. There is constant music and entertainment throughout the game, the stadium itself is beautiful, and there’s simply a good vibe. Brand new ribbon boards throughout the ballpark allow for exciting home run celebrations and player intros, especially the trumpet sequence from “Narco” for closer Edwin Diaz. A warm summer night at Citi Field is as good as can be found anywhere in baseball.
When you enter the Jackie Robinson Rotunda (Robinson played neither in this borough or for this franchise, but the Mets have honorably stepped up to honor his legacy) and ascend the staircases or escalators to see the day’s lineup presented as a series of oversized baseball cards, you know you’re in for a fun time at the ballpark. The staff is extremely helpful and friendly. Security is diligent but friendly and fair (Hal L is a New York City ballpark security legend). If you’re in a group of people or find out a friend also happens to be at the game, there are several gathering places throughout the stadium that offer a view of the field. The best of these are the Shea Bridge, brought over from the old stadium, and the center field landing just beyond it, but the 1st and 3rd base concourses will do just fine. The Piazza 31 offers a fantastic, if distant, view of the Manhattan skyline from its floor to ceiling windows and planes taking off and landing from nearby LaGuardia Airport add to the sights and sounds of Citi Field.
Rather than shooting heavy, oversized all-cotton shirts with a massive screen printed corporate logo out of a cannon, Citi Field’s t-shirt tosses feature comfortable, custom-designed, high-quality shirts from The 7 Line, a diehard Mets fan group that also sells merchandise. Small touches like this, the Home Run Apple that rises in center field after a Mets Home Run, and the ever-present Mr. and Mrs. Met make Citi Field a friendly, fun place to watch baseball. Additionally, this is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse crowds of people you’ll find anywhere in the league, and you’ll regularly hear multiple languages spoken throughout the park, giving you a true taste of New York. The netting extends into the outfield but not all the way to the foul pole. It’s truly a baseball fan’s baseball stadium.
This is also an excellent place to bring a kid who is just learning about the game. The Mets Hall of Fame sits in the Rotunda and gives a great history of the franchise and there is a kids area in center field including a whiffle ball field, a crossfit area/jungle gym, a batting cage, and more. In-game entertainment includes trivia, feats of physical fitness, kids racing from the outfield to 3rd base, whiffle ball, and more.
There isn’t all that much to see outside Citi Field unless you’re willing to walk a bit. Flushing Meadows Corona Park lies beyond the LIRR station outside Citi Field and once hosted the World’s Fair. The Queens Museum, at the eastern edge of the park, contains a miniature version of Manhattan that takes up an entire massive room. It’s visually pleasing, but there’s obviously far more to see in New York than the Queens Museum if you’re a tourist. Between the park and the stadium lies the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open at the end of each summer. If the Open isn’t going on, there’s not much to see here.
EBBS Brewing Company is just to the left of the bullpen gate when facing the stadium. They also offer a full food menu and a few dozen beers. Sadly, the McFadden’s formerly housed in Citi Field is a thing of the past.
Lastly, the blocks and blocks of chop shops located beyond right field have mostly been bulldozed, which makes the area feel safer and less industrial. This area is ripe for redevelopment and with the new ownership group it would not be surprising to see a lot more life near Citi Field in the coming years.
At long last, Met fans have something to root for. Despite winning the 2015 pennant, these fans endured one embarrassment after another for years and years but still showed their support in person, online, and around the city. It finally paid off. The Mets are loaded, their owner is willing to spend whatever it costs to make the team great, and there’s finally real, sincere hope again. The Mets got Max Scherzer and Francisco Lindor. They were buyers at consecutive trade deadlines. There’s hope again and this fanbase deserved every bit of it just for showing up for all those years.
Yet they do more than show up. Mets diehard Darren Meenan started The 7 Line a few years ago as a support group for enduring the misery of being a Met fan, and has turned that into a well-documented grassroots business success story. The 7 Line Army, his squad comprising hundreds of rabid fans, chants in unison wearing matching t-shirts in the center field section of select home games each year, tailgates before said games, and tours the country holding group outings at ballparks all over the league. The 7 Line Army puts Met fans over the top as some of the best in the league.
The infamous 7 train, running between Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s west side and terminating one stop beyond Citi Field in Flushing, drops fans off directly in front of the stadium. The Long Island Railroad, running between Penn Station in Manhattan and Port Washington in Long Island, also stops at Citi Field and is connected to the 7 train station by an elevated boardwalk. There is a Lyft/Uber pickup area outside the bullpen gate in right/center field. Getting to Citi Field via public transportation is the preferred method of arrival, but there are also massive parking lots surrounding the stadium and parking is $25 per car during the regular season and $40 during the postseason. There are also unofficial lots nearby that charge less.
Once at the gate, the lines tend to move rather quickly and there are express lanes for people who do not have bags. Use the outfield entrances for even quicker entry if you don’t mind missing the Rotunda. Clear is available at an entrance just to the left of the main gates that face the 7 train and is free for ballpark access (you can even bring one guest through the Clear entrance). Sadly, there are no lockers outside Citi Field for bags that do not pass MLB’s security specifications.
Return on Investment 4
You’re going to see a really good baseball team. You’re going to have an awesome view of the Manhattan skyline. You’ll get in and out easily. You can eat and drink pretty much anything you can think of. If you like baseball, you’re going to have a really good time. Just know you’ll have to pay accordingly (still usually cheaper than Yankee Stadium though!). If you’re looking for good ticket values, tickets on the lower level in left field and in the 300 level just above it are generally your best bet on the resale market (though you can’t see the main video board from there). The 400 and 500 level sections all have pretty good views of the field, you just may not feel as connected to the rest of the crowd from up there (this is more important to some people than others). The Mets finally have something exciting going on. Bring money.
One star for the facade evoking Ebbets Field.
One star for the views of the Manhattan skyline from the Piazza Club and 3rd base upper level concourses.
One star for the team stores quietly offering baseball cards at some of the best prices you’ll find anywhere.
One star for providing a (slightly) cheaper alternative to Yankee Games.
And lastly, one star for Steve Cohen turning the franchise around and bringing life back to this team.