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Guide To Citi Field

April 1, 2014 5:00 AM

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Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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As another Major League Baseball season gets under way, we took a look at the Mets’ home in Flushing.

Coming and Going

Driving

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Do yourself a favor and avoid driving. It’s expensive, time consuming, and confusing. The Mets list no fewer than four ways to get to Citi Field, just from Manhattan.

Full directions to the Stadium can be found on Mets.com

Here’s another reason not to drive. It will cost you around $20 to park. On the plus side, the Mets do accept credit cards. The lots open four hours before the game.

Tip: You can save the cash by parking for free in Corona and hiking in. The walk will range from ½ to ¾ of a mile.

Tip: Parking Lot D is the lot where most of Shea Stadium’s playing field was located and there are cement and brass markers showing where the pitcher’s mound, home plate and bases once rested.

The official map of nearby Citi Field parking.

Subway

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This is the recommended way to get to the game. It’s quick, cheap, and full of rabid Mets fans. The No. 7 is the only train that services Citi Field, at the Mets/Willets Point Station, but you can connect with it via the E F M or R trains at the 74th Street-Broadway/Roosevelt Avenue stop in Jackson Heights or via the N train at Queensboro Plaza.

Tip: Upon arriving by subway MTA personnel will instruct riders to buy return tickets then, rather than after the game to avoid lines. Because of this, we’ve seen longer lines before the game then there is after. Our recommendation is to sort out all your transportation needs before leaving for the game.

Tip: If you are heading to Manhattan after the game, take what’s commonly called the Mets Express. The express No. 7 train makes only two stops in Queens (at 61 St – Woodside/LIRR and at Queensboro Plaza) before running local in Manhattan. The trip runs about 25 minutes from the Stadium to Times Square. Express trains are queued outside of Willets Point and arrive on the middle track every six minutes

Bus

Citi Field is served by the Q48 bus.

Ferry

These services provide a different take on getting to the game.

Seastreak operates cruises to selected Mets games. Packages can be purchased to include an upper tier reserved stadium ticket. The ferry leaves fromPier 11 Wall Street.

Train

Train service via the LIRR to Mets/Willets Point Station is available on eastbound Port Washington Branch trains from Penn Station and westbound trains from Great Neck and Port Washington. The train ride is just 18 minutes from Penn Station.

For those traveling on the LIRR from Long Island, the new ballpark is just six minutes from Woodside, 17 minutes from Great Neck and 27 minutes from Port Washington. From Long Island, customers may go directly to the stadium from Port Washington Branch stations. Customers from other branches should transfer at Woodside. The trip runs $11 roundtrip on Friday and $9 roundtrip on weekends.

Here is their thrillingly informative Twitter account.

Tip: You can bring and consume alcohol on the LIRR.

Entering the Ballpark

Tip: Most turnstiles and ticket sales windows normally open 1 ½ hours prior to the scheduled starting time for each game. The Jackie Robinson Rotunda, Hodges and Stengel entrances will open 2 ½ hours prior to the game.

Surprise item you’ll have to leave home: Noisemaking devices

Better leave the vuvuzela at home. Everyone’s favorite horn, in addition to items such as whistles will not be allowed past the gates.

Surprise item you can bring in: Not much

Fans are only allowed to bring one soft plastic water bottle of 20 ounces or less into the stadium. Glass bottles will not be allowed for safety reasons and all bottles must be factory sealed. Anyone bringing open containers in will be forced to drink the contents or discard them before entering the park. Mets.com lists “food items and the like” among its list of contraband.

Where to meet at Citi Field: The Old Home Run Apple or McFadden’s

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Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Home Run Apple from Shea Stadium has been moved from its place behind the bullpen during Citi’s inaugural season to the middle of a flower bed that is prominently displayed outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, making it an ideal place to meet friends before heading in. McFadden’s, which opened this year and sits in the office building that houses the Mets corporate offices by the right field corner, is also a prime place to get food or drinks before the game without actually passing through the gates. In fact, it may be the only place to hang out in the vicinity of the stadium.

Fastest way to the Grandstand: Elevators on the Field Level

Entering through the Rotunda really leaves you no way to get to any seating areas without taking the large staircases or the escalator, but the field level does have elevators dotted along the right and left field lines that will spare you the need to go up the multiple escalators required to eventually reach the Promenade Level.

Fastest way to the outfield: Left, Right and Bullpen Gates

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Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Most fans will enter the stadium through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, which means you’ll face less traffic and closer access if you head to the gates in left field, right field or by the bullpen, you’ll have a relatively quick trip to your seats and the food court and beer garden in center field.

Stashing your stuff: Your car

If you plan on bringing a bag to the stadium make sure it’s soft and doesn’t exceed 16x16x8 inches in its dimensions. Anything larger won’t be allowed in and there are no convenient bag check facilities on site.

Fastest exit: Jackie Robinson Rotunda

Quick exits are along the right and left field lines that enable you to descend staircases in little time despite the crowd. However, the crowds will get heavier the further down the stairwell you get. Once you get to the Field Level, you might be best served to leave the stairwell and head to the Rotunda, which has far more exits and wider staircases to accommodate more people.

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Tickets

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Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Buying tickets for a Mets game can be confusing. There are over 60 different seating categories and five different price levels. It’s daunting. Here are some tips:

Book early

This is an easy one. Getting tickets early means you’ll have the largest variety of seating options later and will probably pay less than if you wait. Buy tickets as soon as you know what dates you want to go.

Buying early gives you the best opportunity to get tickets directly from the Mets and avoid wading into the murky waters of the secondary market. Double check the prices you can get from the Mets with other sources such as Stubhub and Craigslist. Avoid paying above face value unless it’s a premium game, or you absolutely have to.

Tip: Check out FanSnap.com and SeatGeek.com. These two aggregators search for tickets available on all major secondary markets. Both sites also use algorithms to analyze whether each ticket is a good or bad deal. SeatGeek also offers forecasts of ticket prices based on historical transactions. It sounds complicated, but they’re doing all the work. Just sign up for an alert and buy the tickets when they tell you to.

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Seating

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Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

While there is a wide range of prices, the most expensive seats at Citi Field won’t run you the same exorbitant costs that they do across town in the Bronx. Of course, they aren’t cheap either. The top seats in the building – the first two rows behind home plate – are very expensive. Sitting in the next few rows behind the prime seats ranges depending on the day, but most rational folk will probably be looking to the upper deck most of the time, and there the prices are far more palatable.

On value dates, sitting in the upper deck, or “Promenade Reserved” is $12 once you get out near the foul poles, with the costs getting up to $20 or $50 for the more desirable games. Because it is a new park, the sightlines are generally good wherever you sit, but beware the low rows in the promenade once you’re past first or third base. The clear plastic walls around the section stairwells could obscure most of the infield and the outfield corners will be cut off.

Seats to avoid: Low rows in the Promenade reserved (501 – 504, 524-528)

In addition to being as far as one can get from most of the better food areas, stairwells will block a large portion of the view, particularly if you are sitting in right field.

Tip: The best bang for your buck probably lies in sections 509 to 517, where seats can be had fairly reasonably had for any game that isn’t Opening Day or the Subway Series – and the entire view of the field is unobscured. If you’re thinking nearly anything beyond the infield of the Promenade section will run the risk of some of the playing area being unviewable. In addition, the seats are right above a large food court that sits behind home plate in the upper deck meaning the walk to get any substantial food is quick and easy, as well as a wider variety of beers than one might get from a vendor at their seats. That food court also features a box office for future ticket dates, which almost never features any wait. If you’re planning on buying tickets to future games at the box office outside the stadium, wait until you’re inside and head to the upper deck food court.

Tip: More expensive tickets can be had on both the Promenade level (400s) and the Caesars Club (300s) that will lend you access to a few of the nice luxury clubs that the stadium has to offer. The clubs have swanky seating areas and higher end food than many of the hot dog vendors roving the stands or the concessionaires along the concourses, though access to the Caesars Club, on some days, can run nearly $200 a seat, which seems pricey to not be on the field level.

Tip: Speaking of the field level, spots on the 100 level aren’t as pricey as one might expect given the premium for sitting directly behind home plate. Field Level seats can be had along the right and left field lines for the relatively reasonable sum on value dates. Outfield seats near the Apple in Center Field are somewhat expensive but they offer uncanny access to the food court in center field, which features some of the more talked about food stands such as Shake Shack or Blue Smoke BBQ. Other choices, such as sushi or deli sandwiches are a short walk towards the right field foul pole.

Tip: Being in the last five rows of the Promenade isn’t all bad. Several of the top rows of the stadium are covered by an overhang, meaning you’ll stay dry if the umpires decide to play through the rain.

Tip: There are no bleacher seats, and the seats near the Shea Bridge (Bridge Terrace Section 143) in center field are for groups only. However, they are great seats and provide excellent opportunities to heckle the visiting bullpen.

If you do wind up with seats in the far reaches of the outfield that might be obscured or are too far away from your liking, head down to the food court and beer garden in center field or along the right field stands and Shea Bridge. The area is dotted with free standing tables and picnic areas that are open to use by all ticket holders. If you can manage to snag a spot on the bridge or a picnic table in the outfield, you’ll be much closer to the action than you would have been in section 502.

Seating Chart

The Citi Field seating and pricing chart is a good place to start to find the best seats for the game.

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At the Park

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Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

There’s plenty to do/see/eat at Citi Field before the game. Here are a few highlights.

Tip: If you get stuck in a rain delay, the best way to spend your time is heading down to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and checking out the New York Mets Hall of Fame and Museum, which features both of the franchise’s World Series trophies as well as an impressive collection of game-used memorabilia. Be wary, though. No food or drink is allowed in the museum and the only exit forces you to go through the Mets clubhouse store.

Tip: Shea Stadium was the only ballpark in the Major Leagues to feature orange foul poles instead of the standard yellow, a unique characteristic that made its way into Citi Field.

Batting Practice

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Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Fans can and should arrive at Citi Field early to watch players take batting practice. Entrance is gained via the Jackie Robinson Rotunda 2 hours (or 2 1/2 for season ticket holders) prior to the scheduled game time. Guests with a “VIP” gate indicated on their ticket may also enter the Hodges or Stengel entrances. Batting practice does not take place prior to every game. If batting practice is scheduled to take place the following is a pre-game timeline:

Autographs

Fans can seek autographs along the Field Level railings where designated during batting practice from the time gates open until approximately 1 hour before game time.

Jackie Robinson Rotunda

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Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The front entrance of Citi Field features a rotunda named after Brooklyn Dodgers legend Jackie Robinson and honors his life and accomplishments. Engraved into the floor and etched into the archways are words and larger-than-life images that defined Robinson’s nine values. There is also an 8 foot sculpture of Robinson’s number 42.If you’re dying to check out the Rotunda, you’re not alone and on gameday, it shows. The line to get in the Rotunda and up the escalator, as in singular escalator, is absurd. It actually goes into the parking lot sometimes.

Tip: If you really want to see the Rotunda, do so on the way out of the stadium. It’ll be a lot less crowded.

Mets Hall of Fame

The Mets Hall of Fame & Museum is located adjacent to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda on the first base side, and is a spectacular attraction for all generations of Mets fans. The 3,700 square foot space features artifacts from special Mets moments, interactive kiosks that allow fans to scroll through memory lane, and highlight videos celebrating the Mets biggest feats.

Visit the Mets Hall of Fame & Museum on game days to see the 1969 and 1986 World Series trophies and plaques for each member of the Mets Hall of Fame.

Tour

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Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

In 2010 the Mets announced that they will start offering one hour tours of the cozy confines of Citi Field. Tours will take you behind the scenes of the ballpark’s inner workings, from the press box to the dugouts to anywhere a red shirted security guard forbids you from going.

If you’re a season ticket holder, the tour is free if you schedule in advance. Otherwise, tickets for the tours range from $6-$13 depending on your age and the number of people in your group. Check out a tour review from Metsgrrl.com

Kids Attractions

The 2KSports FanFest is located on the Field Level in center field, and offers fun for the whole family. With Mr. Met’s Kiddie Field, a scale replica of Citi Field, at its center, the 2KSports FanFest features two batting cages, a speed pitch/dunk tank, video game kiosks, a live DJ and more! Mr. Met has also been known to make pre-game appearances. Weather permitting, the 2KSports FanFest will be open when the gates to Citi Field open, and will remain open until the end of the 7th inning.

Tip: You don’t need a ticket for a child under 32” tall as long as the child sits on your lap during the game. Citi Field has a number of family restrooms and changing tables are available in every bathroom.

Fan Assistance

Guests experiencing an issue that is not related to the action on the playing field (i.e. broken steats, rude fans, and hazardous concourse conditions) should alert Ballpark Operations by calling or texting the Fan Assistance Number at (646) 438-5000.

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Food

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Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Most people will tell you that food at Citi Field begins and ends with Shake Shack and Blue Smoke. Those people are wrong. But since those are two of the most noted options at the park we will start there.

MORE: The 9 Best Eats at Citi Field

Shake Shack

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The Shake Shack burger. (Image from http://www.shakeshack.com)

Widely considered the best burger in New York, Danny Meyer’s famous Shake Shack has an outpost in center field. The burger itself is a thing of simple beauty swaddled in a wax-paper jacket. Hot dogs and fries round out the menu. The problem lies in the 3-inning wait in line. To pass the time you can dispatch a fellow burger lover to retrieve other foodstuffs and drinks while you wait. Or just skip Shake Shack entirely.

Tip: Brooklyn Brewery has crafted four specialty beers for the four different Danny Meyer-owned concession stands at City Field. Shake Shake features the specialty Shackmeister Ale for around eight bucks. Red and white wines are also available.

Tip: That’s the skyline from Shea Stadium’s scoreboard on top of the Shake Shack at Taste of the City in center field.

Tip: Shake Shack, Blue Smoke and Box Frites in center field will easily be the most trafficked and heavily patronized concession stands. Shake Shack gets special attention, and you can expect to miss 2-3 innings while waiting on your burgers. Blue Smoke and Box Frites, however, have ancillary stands behind home plate on the Promenade level, where wait time is practically nil. If you’re really hankering for ribs or garlic fries, walking to the other end of the stadium will be worth the time saved waiting in line.

Blue Smoke

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A closeup of the ribs at Blue Smoke. (Image from http://www.bluesmoke.com)

The wait may also be substantial at Blue Smoke right next door. Check the second location on the Promenade if it is. Blue Smoke offers a delicious pulled pork sandwich, which is probably your best bet. Ribs are also on the menu. As is a smoked bologna sandwich that, while tasty, is probably not worth the money.

Tip: Blue Smoke features a Makers Mark and Ginger and the specialty Blue Smoke Original Ale.

El Verano Taqueria

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The El Verano Taqueria website. (Image from http://www.elvaranotaqueria.com)

Negligible lines, taco combo platters and “elote” corn on the cob make the Taqueria our pick in the Taste of the City section of Citi Field. Let’s start with the platter. It included three soft tacos (chicken, beef and pork) and two salsas for just over $10. Don’t miss the steamed corn on the cob brushed with mayonnaise, cheese and cayenne about five bucks.

Tip: Pick up a Brooklyn Sabroso Ale. Patron margaritas are also on the menu.

Box Frites:

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An image from the Box Frites website. (Image from http://www.boxfrites.com)

We’d be remiss if we failed to mention the Box Frites. They are Belgian-style frites that are fried on the spot. New in 2010 Box Frites added a few options included Disco Frites, frites smothered in gravy, cheddar, and curds. They’re also adding garlic-Parmesan frites, which have a well-rounded garlic sauce option. Regular large frites include one sauce. We favor the bacon aioli.

Tip: Specialty brew: Brooklyn Summer Ale. Absolute Lemonade is also on the menu.

Catch of the Day

Those in the industry call Dave Pasternack’s fish shack the best all-around food option at Citi Field. Try the fried flounder sandwich: local-caught flounder fried in breadcrumbs with a homemade tarter sauce on a potato roll. Or the Long island clam and corn chowder. If you’re feeling flush go for the pricey lobster roll, which Pasternack claims would be a $30 dish at Esca the Westside seafood restaurant where he is head chef.

Tip: if Box Frites aren’t your thing, check out the Bayside Fries with smoked sea salt, Old Bay seasoning and a side of sharp cheddar cheese.

Mama’s of Corona

Mama’s has two locations, one at World’s Fare Market on the field level near right field, and one on the Promenade behind home plate. Most everyone recommends the Mama’s special: peppered ham, salami, fresh mozzarella, with pickled mushrooms and peppers. Mama’s has been a Queens institution for 80 years, and it was at Shea Stadium for eight years.

Tip: If you’re looking for some dessert, try a cannoli from Mama’s.

Big Apple Brews

The Big Apple Brews stand in centerfield on the Field and Promenade Levels features an assortment of Anheuser-Busch products (Bud, Bud Light, Bud Select Bud Light Lime, Bud American Ale, Rolling Rock, O’Douls, and Michelob Ultra).

Tip: A regular beer is just around $1.50 more than a bottle of water at Citi Field. A large beer is only a $1.50 more than that. And a specialty Brooklyn Brewery beer is only 50 cents more. So why where you buying a bottle of water again?

Tip: If frozen drinks are more your style check out the Rum Bar in Section 104.

Thanks to David Kalan, The Wright Stuff, Good Food Stories, Feisty Foodie, and Mets Police.

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