I had a blast this past weekend hitting up three, yes three MLB parks in two days! I’m lucky to have a good friend who lives in Jersey, Liz, who didn’t mind getting dragged to a couple of baseball games and let me crash at her place. She also turned me on to United E-fares, saving me about 20 horrible hours of Pennsylvania turnpike driving. The E-fare deals come out every Tuesday starting around $150 round trip and some go pretty quickly. The catch is you have to travel between Friday and Tuesday that week. My flight from Friday-Monday only ended up being $240, which I probably would have gotten close to in gas if I’d drove. When you head to NYC to visit either Yankee Stadium or Citi Field, you should try coordinating a trip when both teams are in town (I did this last year). If you can’t, settle for visiting the other team’s park or schedule a stadium tour. If you’re really ambitious, plan a side day trip to Philadelphia or Boston to knock out an extra park. There are plenty of options from hitching a ride with a friend, renting a car, public transportation, or ride the Megabus to these neighboring cities.
Photo from Doug Letterman
Saturday morning Liz dropped me off at the PATH station at Jersey City where I bought a $10 subway card and for $2.25 rode into Manhattan, getting off at the 33rd street stop. From that station I rode the yellow subway line (R,N,Q) to Times Square and hopped on the purple 7 train to Queens. Unfortunately, the 7 doesn’t run an express during the weekend, so I was stuck stopping at every station. It took me an hour to get out to Citi Field which is the second last stop on the line. The nice thing about the ride through Queens is the subway car is above ground and I have internet access on my phone. How we functioned before smart phones is beyond me! I did notice that six stops on the 7 connect with buses to LaGuardia, making it convenient to stay in the area by the airport.
I peaced out of that subway car asap when I arrived at Citi Field and almost ran the 100 feet to the stadium. Citi Field is a real work of art, especially if you compare it to the dump they called Shea Stadium. For those who miss Shea, the old home run apple is there in front to greet you. Where its located is at a perfect angle to grab pictures with the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and Citi Field sign in the background. When my sister and I visited last year for a Subway Series game, the line to take a picture in front of it was so long, we decided to cut and take a picture with the current drunk occupant. If you look at the picture, you can see the Mets fan is totally not having it! I walked over to the rotunda to see if there was anyone gathering for a tour and there weren’t any takers. Not interested in getting a tour by myself, I decided to walk around the stadium and semi-explore the wonderful borough called Queens- its interesting.
For me, Citi Field is a bit of a hodge podge that comes together beautifully. It looks like someone built a large square brick and concrete fort, then dropped in a steel circle stadium and added some lights. Even the outside facade isn’t fully cohesive with only the area behind home plate (the Jackie Robinson Rotunda) taking on an airy arched brick pattern mimicking old Ebbets Field. Aside from the rotunda, the rest of the stadium looks like a convention center building with a simple tan rectangle design and large windows. Above both baselines are large steel lights that mirror bridges, a nod to Queens and a theme incorporated throughout the park. The rotunda pays tribute the late legend, Jackie Robinson with large pictures of Robinson along the inside walls. Under them are nine words- courage, excellence, persistence, justice, teamwork, commitment, citizenship, determination and integrity to commemorate his core values. The double staircases provide a grand entrance into the park and double escalators are in the middle for those opting out a step workout. Below the escalators is a large lit up 42, perfect for taking photos in front of. Before entering the concourse area is Today’s Topps Lineup with poster size baseball cards of the Mets starting nine.
Walking towards the Right Field gate, I passed the Mets’ Team Shop and the team lot, which was pretty empty since they were out of town. The Right Field entrance is below field level and has stairs and an escalator taking you up to the concourse. The way the stadium comes together here is pretty interesting with the mix of brick, steel, and concrete joining the circle seating area into the outer square. Continuing on to the Bullpen Gate you can’t help but notice the sketchy line of car repair shops along the entire other side of the street. Its a shame someone hasn’t bought out this strip and turned it into bars and restaurants since there’s virtually nowhere to grab a bite to eat or drink around the stadium. I did see a sandwich shop, but wasn’t about to try it out. If you go, let me know how it is. Entering via this gate leads you into a picnic area and above that is Shea Bridge, which keeps with the stadium’s bridge theme. On the other side of the Bullpen Gate is McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon. McFadden’s has a field entrance and a porch area perfect for mingling before a game. Above the bar are the backs of the multiple scoreboards and an area with games/activities. From McFadden’s to the Left Field gate are loading docks with parking across from them. Citi Field is right off the freeway, but make sure to get to the game early as there aren’t that many spots around the park.
Once inside the park, you’ll find large concourses and tasteful Mets decor. For those interested in catching batting practice, you have to enter through section 126. My sister, Alex, and I watched Yankee batting practice last year and the ushers were for the most part really friendly and helpful. We stayed down until the anthem and made our way to the standing room between third base and home. Before the game the Mets play, “Meet the Mets!” The song is old and a little corny, but you can’t help but get swept up by the catchy jingle. We stood with Mets fans and they weren’t bad at all, pretty much ignored us. We were actually surprised that the fans were so pleasant since this was a “rivalry” game and we’ve been treated pretty poorly in the past by other fan bases. The Mets did a nice job keeping the crowd energy up with videos of celebrity fans leading cheers and during the 7th inning stretch, the new home run apple made an appearance. The game atmosphere buzzed until the very end, thankfully the Yankees pulled out a win! Alex and I felt completely safe exiting the stadium and making our way to the subway station. There were extra trains running the express route to cope with the heavy crowds.
Like that trip, I went back to Manhattan, but instead of going back to Jersey, I walked around Bleecker St. I window shopped and ate some street food (I love hot dogs and soft pretzels!) before heading up the green 4 train to the Bronx to see my boys take on the Tigers later that afternoon. For my trip to Citi Field I spent $4.50 in subway fare and $5 on street food. Last year we spent $50 on tickets to the game, though we never went up to our seats. Tickets would have been much cheaper if I had bought them more in advance when I saw them for under $10- lesson learned. Citi Field is well worth the subway commute and like I said, the fans really weren’t bad. If you can make it to a night game, the park looks great lit up!