This was my first visit to 126th and Roosevelt since the last game at Shea and as the 7 train rumbled toward Willets Pt not seeing the familiar blue horseshoe stadium was a bit unnerving, but $iti Field did looking striking in the foreground.  Stepping off the train and walking to the exit (I still miss the landing where you could see the field and the souvenir stand there too) I had to stop and take it all in, what once was a parking lot has now come to life as the new home of the Mets. I was a bit discombobulated as I asked my son “should we walk around the outside”? “Sholud we go in”? My son made the decision, “Dad, we can walk around the outside after the game, right now let’s get the SANTANA draw string bag” Atta boy, always get your swag.  So in we go with our new drawstring bags in tow.    

I will say I was impressed by the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. I love the look with the hanging light fixtures and the words of inspiration on the walls and marble floors that surround the area. But what made the biggest impression on me  watching an African American family taking pictures on the steps leading up to the stands and then down at the big 42 in the center of the Rotunda.  The Dad was beaming telling his two kids about Robinson and how he changes not just the landscape of baseball but the country and it reinforced to me why the Jackie Robinson Rotunda is the Jewel of $iti Field.

There was one drawback to the JRR that left me dumb struck. There are two escalators leading up to the field levels. My son and I were in deep conversation and just walking to the escalator closest to us. As we ready to step on the moving stair case a “Hospitality Agent” asked to see our tickets. When she saw Promenade on them she smirked and said “this escalator is for Club Members only”  so in this grand entrance dedicated to a man who fought against  prejudice and for inclusion of all, there exists segregation of the fans The escalators  might as well be marked “SWELLS” and “GREAT UNWASHED”

As we made our way up “our” escalator, more signs of the haves and have nots were present.  There is enclave known as the Ebbets Club that is manned by a security guard whose job is to stand at the entrance to make sure none of  us street urchins go near the door. The windows of the club are also blocked by murals of $iti Field or wait I’m sorry they are murals of Ebbets Field. I get them both confused.   My son pleaded with me to please stop staring at the Ebbets Club as he feared the security/ bouncer would take me in for questioning.


We got to the ball park early (yes it is a ball park Mets fans our Stadium is just a pile of rubble next door) with more than enough time to walk all around the place. The concourses are very wide and you can see the field as you stroll. We stopped to watch the Brewers take batting practice and to watch Willie Randolph have a catch with Bill Hall. To digress a bit, Randolph was in his right element as a coach. I always said his biggest strength is as an instructor than a field manager.  Okay back to my $iti Field stroll.

As I said you can stop and watch BP but you cannot go down by the field unless you have a ticket for that section and since you either have to be a pimp , drug dealer, or a CEO of a failed Fortune 500 business to be able to afford tickets in that close to the field  we  just keep walking.

We made our way to the Centerfield Taste of New York Food Court area and this is where we made our $iti Field experience rookie mistake. We should have had our Shake Shack burger and shake and our Box Frites fires then instead of coming back in the third inning. The lines are long and if you go during the game you miss at least two innings of the game and as good as that burger, fries and shake were it wasn’t that good that I should miss two innings of Johan Santana pitching. But live and learn.

The food court area reminds me of the San Genareo Feast . Wall to wall people, plenty of beer and greasy food.  As great as the food areas are in this Taste of New York Food Court it’s really nothing you can’t get any day of the week in NYC.  The Shake Shack burger? It was very good but I’ve had as good if not better at any bar in Bay Ridge (Pipins Pub and Skinflints to name two) the Taco stand? I can go to Port Richmond here on Staten Island and have real Tacos made by real Mexican cooks.  Pizza? Are you kidding ?  Look I guess if you live in the ‘burbs these gastric delights are unique and I’m not saying it was n’t delicious but I wasn’t  blown away. Next week when I go back for the Mets-Nats on Sunday I’m going to the World’s Fare Market to get a sandwich at Mama’s of Corona. When I went in there to look around I was very surprised how little foot traffic there was there, and a Mama’s Turkey and Mozzarella on semolina hero kicks the Shake Shack burgers ass.

Our next stop was the Pepsi Porch. If it were up to me I’d have stayed up there for the rest of the game but my son wanted to go back to our seats. The PP reminded me of the Right Field Pavilion at Fenway Park with the large concession stand and vast walking area. The security guards were nice as they said we could stay and watch but please don’t block the aisles. That kind of pleasantness will get you fired mister!

I wish I knew how the Mets are counting the attendance here at $iti. The Skill Sets were criticized at Shea for announcing crowds of 40 or 50, 000 when there were maybe 30 or 35, 000 yesterday I’d have sworn the game was sold out a solid 42, 000 and change on hand but the announced attendance was a shade over 32, 000. That brings me to the empty seat scenario.

I sat in Section 511 in the Promenade at this seems to be the part of the park where the die hards are. From my eye it looked to me the whole level was full. When you look down to the lower bowl there were pockets of unoccupied seats that have been the talk of the town this week.  Why would you be surprised that the corporate fat cats would rather sit at a bar and drink Martini’s and talk about how they got their bonus out of government TARP money and the great rental in South Hampton rather than get up close and personal with the best pitcher in baseball and watch him dominate hitters with a fastball/change-up combo not matched in the big leagues ? You reap what you sow Skill Sets.

With all that, I really like $iti Field. I think. I love the architecture. I love that it looks like Ebbits Field. I love the dark blue exposed steel girders especially the ones holding up the bridge that leads you into the Taste of NY Food Court.  I love the deep green seats. It is a beautiful ball park but there are some things that need improvement.

If you were blindfolded and brought into the park and plopped in a seat, then had the blindfold taken off and told if you can guess the team that plays here you go free if you can’t, BANG you’re dead. Chances are you’d better say your prayers as there is more Brooklyn Dodgers feel to the place than Mets and that is a major problem. I hear you Freddie, BROOKLYN RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But this is Queens and these are the Mets and we are Mets fans and you need to make the place more Mets-ecentic. It’s embarrassing.

The scoreboard sucks. All the adds on the board are so low rent –Buy your Gold Jewelry, Used Cars Dealers (Bud Selig?), Construction Equipment (Tony Soprano) Free Credit Report and Cesars Casinos-they only business missing up there are Madam Marie’s Rub and a Tug and the Canarsie Indians Tax Free Cigarettes Shack. The old board at Shea , kicks $iti’s ass everyday of the week and twice on Sunday. When you walked into Shea the first thing you checked was the day’s lineup. Not on the $iti board until game time. Out of Town Scores?  At Shea right in front of you.  At $iti? Up high near the lights plus you need Lasix  surgery to see it properly. Thank God for the Black Berry.

And what is with these metal guard rails on the seats? And the Plexiglas on the railings next to the seats?  If anyone can tell me what purpose they serve please e mail me or leave a comment because the only purpose I can see them serving is to annoy the shit out of me.   

I’m sure $iti Field will grow on me and seriously I hate being negative about the place like I said it is a beautiful place but I just wish the Skill Sets would stop catering to the corporate assholes and start making the real Mets fan happy. There is a real venomous vibe coming from a segment of Mets fan base that I have never experienced before in all the years I’ve rooted for this team. There is an unbelievable disconnect between the owner of this team and it’s loyal fan base.  I understand it is a business and the Skill Sets are hurting since the Madoff scandal but this organization is at a cross roads now. 

Always remember Skill Sets the people in the Delta, Acela, Ebbits, Excelsior or whatever swanky club you  have at $iti won’t be there when times are tough, it’s the Promenade folks who will keep you solvent during tough times but don’t take us for granted. If you think it can’t happen give Lorinda de Roulet a call and ask her about the mid and late 70’s.   

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