NEW YORK -- Willie Randolph and three of his players -- Jose Reyes, David Wright and John Maine -- returned to Shea Stadium on Monday, smiling for photos as they shuffled around small piles of dirt.

The assembled group knew their main objective during the new stadium's ceremonial groundbreaking: To simply stay out of the way. The construction workers could do most of the heavy lifting; the Mets had done theirs on the field.

Still, as team executives and city speakers proudly displayed the product of months of planning, Randolph couldn't help but picture what Opening Day 2009 might look like at Citi Field.

"From what I've seen of it, it looks magnificent," Randolph said. "It's exciting to finally see this come to fruition as far as getting started. It's just exciting to have a state-of-the-art facility where you can create your own identity. The players are going to be very proud of it and those new stadiums are gorgeous."

Wright said that the intimate atmosphere of Citi Field -- the new stadium will have just 42,500 seats, plus availability for 2,500 more standing-room tickets -- would bring fans closer to the action, creating more of a home-field advantage for the Mets.

He compared it to the raucous atmosphere of a college basketball arena.

"I had a lot of firsts and some great memories in Shea Stadium, but the enthusiasm the fans bring to the ballpark every day is just going to be that much more magnified come 2009," Wright said.

Randolph said he believed the new stadium's tribute to Jackie Robinson was "long overdue and should be celebrated," while Wright said he was looking forward to exploring some of the ballpark's unique concessions and perks.

"Everything will be new and have that new smell ... kind of like a new car," Wright said.

Coaching shuffle: Randolph said that he has a few candidates in mind who may be considered to replace Manny Acta on his coaching staff, but was not ready to reveal names.

Acta will reportedly be named as the next manager of the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, and though Randolph has not been able to reach his soon-to-be-former third-base coach, he said he was happy for Acta.

"He's one of my guys," Randolph said. "Any time one of your coaches get the opportunity to have their own ballclub, you're proud of that.

"I got a chance to work with him and you know what he brings to the table. I think that Washington has made a good choice picking up Manny. He's solid and he knows the game. I think he'll be a good leader for them."

Ongoing negotiations: Randolph confirmed that there have been preliminary discussions between Mets general manager Omar Minaya and Randolph's representatives regarding a contract extension.

Randolph is signed to manage the Mets through 2007, though Minaya has stated on numerous occasions that he hopes to extend Randolph's contract before Spring Training. Randolph said there was no particular urgency.

"Right now, I'm just enjoying my offseason," Randolph said. "I'm focused on next year and hoping things will work out. I have one year left."

Additionally, Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said that he has been in contact with Tom Glavine, but that the left-hander's situation has not changed. The Mets are still optimistic Glavine will return.

"He's still talking to his family, and he'll let us know when he makes a decision," Wilpon said. "He's got a complicated family situation that he wants to totally think through. I think he just wanted to go away from it all for a week or two, and he's just started to focus on it again."

Right on track: Wilpon said that the construction of Citi Field had picked up since the close of the National League Championship Series.

Even more parking spaces have been claimed from Shea Stadium as the work site continues to expand, with an estimated 2,000 of 2,800 foundation piles of Citi Field already installed.

"We're making very good progress," Wilpon said. "We're on schedule."