What to look for at Citi Field
Mets' new home to offer fans many new amenities
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Compared to many parks, Citi Field makes it simple for fans to keep their eyes trained on the game. The concourses provide expansive views, windows to the playing field at every turn. For those so inclined, it's possible to see every detail of every out.
But for those attending one of the Mets' two exhibition games this weekend, or perhaps a game on the team's opening homestand in April, there may be incentive to look away. Turns out Citi Field offers a whole lot more than just baseball.
Foremost in the team's consciousness is the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, an atrium modeled after Brooklyn's old Ebbets Field. There, fans can take in New York City's newest museum -- a shrine to the man who broke baseball's color barrier, complete with a statue and quotations inscribed in the floor.
Just outside is the FanWalk, an area where fans can browse the bricks that have been purchased, inscribed and cemented into the ground. And that is surrounded by some of the 25,000 square feet of landscaped area around the park, featuring more than 1,000 trees and shrubs. On game days, this Mets Plaza area will be home to various activities and vendors.
Up the escalators from the Rotunda is the concourse level, home to 42 percent of Citi Field's seating. Far wider than that of Shea Stadium, the main concourse wraps nearly a half-mile around the ballpark, encouraging movement throughout each game. Not that fans will necessarily want to move -- all of the seats themselves will be wider and angled toward the action, providing more comfort and leg room.
Perhaps the highlights of the concourse area are the concession stands, 41 percent more abundant than at Shea. They include scaled-down versions of New York restaurateur Danny Meyer's Shake Shack and Blue Smoke properties, tacos from El Verano Taqueria and Belgian fries from Box Frites, all in a center field food court called Taste of the City. They also include some old Shea Stadium favorites, including sandwiches from Mama's of Corona, sushi from Daruma of Tokyo and -- of course -- the standard hot dogs, peanuts and beers.
In addition, Citi Field will feature several full-service restaurants, bars and clubs, including the Delta Sky360 Club and the Acela Club.
For those inclined to sit in their ticketed seats and watch a game, the Pepsi Porch in right field may provide one of the most unique experiences in baseball. With eight feet of it hanging over fair territory, the area gives fans an entirely different sort of perspective on the game. Team COO Jeff Wilpon, the driving force behind Citi Field's development, has said repeatedly that if he were buying tickets to a game, he would want them to be on the Pepsi Porch. And that seems to be as strong an endorsement as any.
In center field is the new Home Run Apple, not quite an exact replica of the original apple that first came to Shea Stadium to celebrate home runs in 1981. That model is now on display at Citi Field's Bullpen Plaza Entry Gate at 126th St., and another piece of the old stadium, the skyline that once adorned the top of Shea's scoreboard, now rests atop "Taste of the City."
Simply put, there's a lot to see. So pardon fans attending one of this weekend's exhibition games against the Red Sox if they seem a bit distracted. Some may mill around the FanWalk outside, or spend the early innings perusing the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Others may enjoy some dining at one of the full-service restaurants, or wander out to center field for a quicker bite to eat.
Even those content to sit in their seats all game may find it difficult not to take a walk around the main concourse, knowing that they won't have to miss a single out doing so.
There are a lot of options. A lot to see. A lot to explore -- and that's just what the Mets intended. Like many of the newer parks across the nation, Citi Field was built for more than just baseball. And it may take more than one trip to see, taste and explore it all.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.