Itinerant Fan

Citi Field

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There’s a certain charm, a certain personality, to attending a game at Citi Field. From the architectural echoes of Ebbets Field to the planes flying overhead after takeoff from nearby LaGuardia Airport, the game experience at the home of the New York Mets is unique in a lot of ways.

While the ballpark’s location deep in the heart of Queens can make it a challenge to visit for the average New York tourist, it’s worth a ride on the 7 train to see what Citi Field is like. Once you get there, you’ll find plenty of fan comforts and a few surprises.

Mets’ fans opinions of their team’s home were largely negative early on, but have gradually improved thanks to various improvements over Citi Field’s first decade of existence. But there’s no denying the park is a vast improvement over the team’s old and decaying home, Shea Stadium.

The team and city had explored ways to replace the old Shea for years, at one point considering building a ballpark in Manhattan, before finally clearing the hurdles to build the new place on the same site.

Citi Field has seen a few highlights in the first 10 years, having hosted the MLB All-Star Game (in 2013) and the World Series (in 2015), as well as international soccer matches, the NHL Winter Classic and more.

For more on visiting New York City, check out our New York city guide.

  •   The Approach

    Citi Field, like most major attractions in New York City, is easily reachable via public transportation — and if you’re visiting the Big Apple, it’s definitely the most pain-free way of getting to the park. 

    The 7 train of the NYC Subway begins in Manhattan, stopping at Times Square and Grand Central Station, before emerging from underground and winding through Queens on its way to Flushing, the neighborhood adjacent to Citi Field. If you board the train in Manhattan, count on a journey of about 45 minutes unless you’re lucky enough to catch an express train, which makes fewer stops and shaves about 10-15 minutes off the trip. 

    Citi Field’s subway stop is helpfully labeled “Mets-Willets Point” and the ballpark will be visible out of the left side of the train as it approaches. The same stop is used to access the USTA Tennis Center, on the opposite side of the train tracks, but there are plenty of signs within the station directing baseball fans in the right direction.

    For a faster but more expensive ride, the Long Island Rail Road also runs trains to Citi Field from Penn Station in Manhattan. These trains also stop at the Mets-Willets Point station. You can find timetables, fares and more at this link

    Drivers can reach Citi Field via the Grand Central Parkway, which runs just west of the park; follow signs for Flushing Meadows/Citi Field. The park is surrounded by surface parking lots, two of which are accessible for general parking, but the team warns that those lots fill up quickly. Satellite lots are also available in the surrounding neighborhoods. For more information on parking, click here.  

    Taxis and rideshares are also a viable option but be prepared to pay up the nose if you’re trying to reach Citi Field from Manhattan, especially close to game time and right after the final out. Expect the cost to start around $45 if the trip begins in Midtown Manhattan.

  •   The Build-Up

    Surrounded mostly by parking lots, Citi Field — or, at least, the immediate vicinity of it — doesn’t offer much in terms of pregame entertainment. The Mets and the city of New York have been trying to change, that, though, with a grand plan to redevelop the neighborhood just to the east, known as Willets Point.

    In the early days of Citi Field, and during Shea Stadium’s existence before it, the Willets Point neighborhood was known mainly for its blocks and blocks of auto body shops, all visible from the upper concourses.

    But in the mid-2010s, the city evicted the shops, clearing the way for development of a residential and entertainment district across the street from the ballpark. While plans are still taking shape, it’s possible that the area will also include a new stadium for the MLS club New York City FC. 

    Until that happens, you can venture out to Seaver Way (formerly known as 126th Street, it was renamed after Mets great Tom Seaver in 2019) to find two pubs attached to the ballpark’s right field section. McFadden’s and Mikkeller both open to fans two hours before first pitch and stay open after games.

    If you have got a little more time on your hands before the game and are feeling adventurous, check out the Corona neighborhood, west of the Grand Central Parkway. It’s home to large Latino and Italian communities and the restaurants in the neighborhood reflect this. The well-known Mama’s of Corona on 104th Street also operates a popular stand at Citi Field.

  •   The Ambiance

    Citi Field’s a pretty big place as ballparks go, with plenty to explore. The natural starting point is the home plate entrance, also known as the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, which features an extensive tribute to the baseball pioneer just inside. Before going in, though, make sure to check out the original Mets Home Run Apple, which once was stationed beyond the outfield wall at Shea Stadium.

    The rounded corner of the home plate gate is meant to invoke the long-demolished Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, and in fact one of the early criticisms of the ballpark was that there were too many tributes to a different franchise (the Dodgers) and borough (Brooklyn), and not enough attention paid to the Mets or their history in Queens. The team tried to rectify this by installing a Mets Hall of Fame adjacent to the Robinson Rotunda.

    Walk around the concourses and you’ll see a definite bridge motif — after all, there are many, many bridges in New York and there’s even one in the Mets’ logo. The Shea Bridge is the most prominent — the pedestrian walkway in the outfield concourse crosses over the bullpens in right-center field.

    But from the ballpark’s opening, the department where Citi Field really shines is the food. The selection is amazing in our view, and a lot of it is an admirable reflection of the cuisine that defines New York. Some of it is expensive even for ballpark food, of course, but it’s worth it to walk around surveying your options. Some of the choices include:

    • The aforementioned Mama’s of Corona (Italian hoagies)
    Shake Shack (burgers; though they’re all around the world now, they got their start in NYC)
    Blue Smoke (BBQ; started by the same restaurateur behind Shake Shack)
    Pat LaFrieda’s (filet mignon sandwich)
    Fuku (fried chicken sandwiches; created by celebrity chef David Chang)
    Nathan’s (the worldwide hot dog chain started at Coney Island)
    Box Frites (Belgian fries, aka fries on steroids with dipping sauces)

    And we haven’t even touched on the handful of craft beer and cocktail bars around the ballpark. In short, take a little bit of time to walk around and consider your options — you’ll be glad you did.

    In the ballpark’s early days, fans also complained about obstructed views in some sections, with things like glass panes and railings blocking views of the field. The stands have undergone a few renovations over the years, particularly in the outfield, with new party decks and patio areas created in left and right field.

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The Particulars

Home Teams
New York Mets

Address
41 Seaver Way
Flushing, NY 11368

Year Opened
2009

Capacity
45,000

Upcoming Events
All times local
Washington Nationals at New York Mets - Opening Day
Thursday, March 26, 2020
1:10 pm
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Washington Nationals at New York Mets
Saturday, March 28, 2020
4:05 pm
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Washington Nationals at New York Mets
Sunday, March 29, 2020
1:10 pm
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Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets
Monday, March 30, 2020
7:10 pm
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Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
7:10 pm
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