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Citi Field: homage or heresy? Feedback appreciated.

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  • #46
    Well, I’ve been to “Citi Field” a couple of times now, and feel qualified to render an opinion.

    Of course, I’d never been to Ebbets Field. I’d guess any superficial resemblance the exterior has vanishes once you’re inside. The Jackie Robinson Rotunda was surprisingly bland and a bit underwhelming. Once inside the ballpark the first thing you notice is how the place doesn’t really seem like it has much to do with the Mets, or even baseball in general.

    "Citi Field" is a total shrine to commerce. The stores and food areas are very well thought out. There really isn’t much decor or anything referencing 47 years of Mets history. A wide concourse full of retail shops and food stands broadens to a large food court behind center field. Here you’ll find a Verizon store, a tee ball field, a dunk tank, a Shake Shack, a plethora of other food options, and seemingly half the fans in the ballpark. The focal point of the stadium seems as much this ongoing 9 inning street fair beyond the center field wall as the field itself. The result is a substantial amount of crowd energy being sucked over the center field wall, away from the game, and into the street fair.

    The sight lines are largely worse than Shea Stadium. Pretty much no matter where you sit you can't see one outfield corner or another. My friend and I walked across the top of Promenade. Even directly behind home plate, BOTH outfield corners are blocked from view!

    We missed a couple of important plays because the outfield corner was completely blocked from our seats. We were also sitting on an aisle; even though we were far enough back so the glass staircase only blocked an annoying but managable chunk of the outfield, there was a constant stream of people walking back and forth in front of us to get to or return from the street fair behind center field. Having been there a couple of times now, I can honestly say the experience of seeing a game is a step down from Shea, where you could see the whole field and there were fewer non-baseball related annoyances to deal with.

    It should also be noted that an elaborate network of exclusive restaurants and seating areas took up a ton of the stadium’s prime space. As we only had tickets in the $30 range, we were barred access to most of the place, so I can mostly only offer observations on the reduced capacity upper deck level known as “Promenade”. Much of the rest of the stadium seems designed for corporate “fans” and was simply off limits.

    Although overall seating is reduced by about 15,000 in the new ballpark, field level seating, generally geared toward corporate customers, was increased by about 5,000. Affordable seating then was reduced by roughly 20,000 with the nearly 35,000 seats of Upper Deck and Mezzanine at Shea being compressed into the 15,500 seats of Promenade at "Citi". If you have less than $50 to spend for a ticket, the undersized upper deck is basically your only option now.

    I'd guess more attention was spent making sure the luxury areas were up to snuff than worrying about sight lines for the "cheap" seats. The views are surprisingly bad from Promenade - especially considering the promises that there "wouldn't be a bad seat in the house".

    At any rate, the bulk of the fans seemed to be roaming around and buying things the whole game long. The flow of people never slowed until about the 7th inning, when they wandered back to their seats and started doing the wave during a good and close game. The whole atmosphere there removes the game itself from being the focus of the ballpark experience. It's built to cater to non-fans, viewing the game takes a back seat to the food areas and other retailing areas; Shea on the other hand simply offered a field and seats and better views of the game.

    I guess in "Citi Field's" favor, it is clean, not having had the opportunity yet to get as dirty as Shea.

    I'd expected many of the negatives I found and "Citi Field" certainly lived up to the negative confidence I had in it in terms of the economic segregation of the fans. What I didn't expect was for the sight lines to be as bad as they were throughout most of the ballpark; the views were poorly though out, almost an afterthought. I also hadn't expected the retail areas to be so brilliantly thought out. The place was designed to suck fans away from the ballgame and into its commercial bowels where money could then be sucked out of their pockets. Look at photos of it during a ballgame; literally half the seats are empty during most of any given game. The thousands of fans milling around the street fair are plainly visible from the rest of the ballpark. The crowd is distracted and the energy is poor. Even the constant barrage of scoreboard graphics and recordings urging the fans to "make some noise" doesn't do much good.

    I can’t really compare the place to Ebbets Field. Perhaps others could fill in this blank. I understand Ebbets had a carnivalesque atmosphere in its own way, but with the Dodgers and the game itself as the focal point.

    Unfortunately, it seems many of “Citi Field’s” negative points are not exclusive to “Citi Field”. I read an interesting review of the new ballpark down in Washington, also designed by HOK, and most everything in it could apply to the Mets new home. Here are some excerpts:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...T2008033002035

    This Diamond Isn't a Gem

    By Philip Kennicott
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, March 31, 2008; Page C01

    ...As people circulate through the stadium's public spaces, where beer can cost $7.50 and the cheapest hot dog is $4.50, the human traffic flow unifies the two central purposes of the building: baseball and the fleecing of baseball audiences. This circulating motion wrings money out of you like wet laundry on the spin cycle.

    It's hard not to focus on the economic aspects of this architecture, because so many of the unfortunate architectural decisions are essentially economic decisions. The ballpark -- like most shopping malls, airports, sports facilities and, alas, many new museums -- belongs to what we might call the architecture of distraction. We don't tend to think of these buildings in architectural terms, as having form or line, balance or symmetry, shape or presence. Rather, it's all about program, circulation and keeping boredom at bay. The public judges these structures in terms of their amenities, their bathrooms, their cleanliness and their overall convenience.

    ...

    Ballparks look like shopping malls -- functional, cheap and cluttered with branding -- because the cities that build them are forced to design structures that will maximize the profits of baseball owners. Architectural seriousness is not among the priorities.

    And so the dreary list goes on. The interior spaces, accessible only to the public that can afford more expensive seats, are covered in carpeting that looks as if it came out of a Courtyard by Marriott. The private boxes are so generic in their fittings and finish, they remind one of the inside of a recreational vehicle. Look out of one of the elevator lobbies on the top ring and you see the exposed mechanicals on the roof of the team's corporate offices, a forest of metal junk.

    All that for $611 million in public money. We have been trained to treat our sports teams, the industry behind them and the architecture that contains them with a grim sense of fatalism. Of course stadiums must be bigger. Of course the social space of an egalitarian sport will be distorted into a rigorous hierarchy of wealth and exclusivity.


    "A rigorous hierarchy of wealth and exclusivity". My feeling is that Ebbets Field represented pretty much the exact opposite in a ballpark experience. I wonder if there are any folks out there with memories of the real Ebbets Field who have been to the Mets new ballpark and might care to offer a comparison.
    Last edited by Mongoose; 06-14-2009, 10:21 PM.


    "The Fightin' Met With Two Heads" - Mike Tyson/Ray Knight!

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    • #47
      I have attended games at both Ebbets Field and CitiField. CitiField is NOTHING like Ebbets. Nothing. The closest a ballpark comes to Ebbets Field is Fenway Park. This, of course is just my humble opinion(s).
      you can take the Dodgers out of Brooklyn, but you can't take the Brooklyn out of the DODGERS
      http://brooklyndodgermemories.freeforums.org/

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      • #48
        Citi field:homage or heresy

        how can one compare any new ballpark to your first visit to a ballpark as a child.. i was 9 years old when my father took me to my first game at ebbets field in 1953. it was a night game against the st. louis cardinals. we sat in the upper deck on the 3rd base side. watching ballgames on tv in black and white, when i walked up the ramp and saw the green field and the colors of the outfield wall ads, you could not tell which was open wider, my mouth or my eyes. nothing can compare to your first ballgame. especially ebbets field. my eyes still water whenever i see films of the old ballpark. i purchased a color poster, "top of the 9th", a scene from the first baseline, looking at the dodger bullpen and out to right field encompassing the entire wall and scoreboard. warming up in the bullpen are maglie and koufax. it is a game between the dodgers and cards from aug. 25,1957. i have it hanging on a wall in my daughters old room, which is now our computer room. sometimes i just stare at the picture and it takes me back to my childhood, when the dodgers ruled my life. i'm sure citi field is nice, but ebbets field............never.

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        • #49
          Originally posted by Mongoose View Post
          You never would have seen someone like Hilda Chester up in the Bronx.
          Freddie (Sez), with his pan, is as close to Hilda Chester as possible, but to illustrate how correct you are, he had to pay his way into the new ballpark until some people who wanted to maintain today's false images stepped in.

          Yankee Stadium is across the street from where the Yankees now play.

          Both the Yankees and Mets primary goal is to make money, not to win.

          We all know where they can both go.
          Baseball articles you might not like but should read.

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          • #50
            I read all these reports about Citi being some clone of Ebbets Field. Dodgers fans feel that the Wilpons are undeservedly leeching off a legacy and Giants fans are outraged at what they see as another step in the media's elevation of one former New York club and denigration of the other, but having been to a game I just don't see it.

            Sure, the exterior of the Citi Field rotunda has a superficial resemblance. And they named one lounge after old Charlie. But other than that? Nothing.

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            • #51
              I got an opportunity to check out the luxury areas of "Citi" recently. Once you have access to the areas beyond Promenade, you realize how sprawling the place actually is. There are a lot of areas hidden from public view and public access. Beyond this, the concourses are wide and full of stores.

              I'm wondering what there was in the way of additional, non-baseball related stuff at Ebbets.

              What was on the concourses?

              Where did those doors inside the rotunda lead to?

              Were there elevators?

              Were there luxury boxes?

              Were there stores?

              Were there restaurants?

              Were there concession stands?

              Could you buy souvenirs? And if so what sort of stuff was available?


              "The Fightin' Met With Two Heads" - Mike Tyson/Ray Knight!

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              • #52
                Originally posted by Mongoose View Post
                I guess I'd appreciate some feedback on this; a reality check, if you will. Is my lack of enthusiasm about this "temple" to the Brooklyn Dodgers unique, or is there anybody else out there who finds a certain dark irony in the whole thing?
                My opinion is that this tribute to Ebbets Field is to be taken largely at face value, a genuine appreciation and recognition of the Dodgers history in Brooklyn, and perhaps an attempt to recast the Mets as the heirs to some of that legacy. Now clearly they are a different team, but aren't the LA Dodgers a different team too? The Mets have long drawn from Brooklyn Dodger's fan base, but this rotunda and the other nods to the Brooks helps new fans appreciate some of the things the Mets and Dodgers have in common. It is fair to say that had the Dodgers accepted Robert Moses' offer, they would be playing in something not unlike Citi Field.

                As for the smaller park, Citi Field was not designed as a football stadium. Some expectation of intimacy is a good thing for baseball games. Would you want to have 300,000 people at a baseball game? Citi Field is still bigger than Ebbets, and yet it feels good to me. No complaints.

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                • #53
                  Originally posted by aqib View Post
                  Will Shea Stadium ever have a place in history akin to that of Ebbets Field? Will ball park fans a generation from now ever lament not having seen a game at Shea?
                  Yes, but only out of familiarity with it. I think it's pretty obvious that as a multi sport facility, it was not a good fit.

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                  • #54
                    Originally posted by penncentralpete View Post
                    I have attended games at both Ebbets Field and CitiField. CitiField is NOTHING like Ebbets. Nothing. The closest a ballpark comes to Ebbets Field is Fenway Park. This, of course is just my humble opinion(s).
                    And to think, it probably won't be too many more years before Fenway bites the dust. It got a reprieve, as we all know, but that was a close call, and I'm sure there will be more challenges to its existence ahead.

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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by gbittar View Post
                      My opinion is that this tribute to Ebbets Field is to be taken largely at face value, a genuine appreciation and recognition of the Dodgers history in Brooklyn, and perhaps an attempt to recast the Mets as the heirs to some of that legacy. Now clearly they are a different team, but aren't the LA Dodgers a different team too? The Mets have long drawn from Brooklyn Dodger's fan base, but this rotunda and the other nods to the Brooks helps new fans appreciate some of the things the Mets and Dodgers have in common. It is fair to say that had the Dodgers accepted Robert Moses' offer, they would be playing in something not unlike Citi Field.

                      As for the smaller park, Citi Field was not designed as a football stadium. Some expectation of intimacy is a good thing for baseball games. Would you want to have 300,000 people at a baseball game? Citi Field is still bigger than Ebbets, and yet it feels good to me. No complaints.
                      The problem with pre-supposing the gesture was sincere is facts don't bear that out.

                      Fred Wilpon is basically a real estate developer who's used owning the Mets as leverage to initiate a publicly funded, multi-billion dollar project at Willets Point, complete with eminent domain abuse. Walter O'Malley tried to do something similar in Brooklyn, but failed. He'd probably be jealous.

                      Here's a story about Wilpon's plans from 1994. Note the complete lack of mention of the Brooklyn Dodgers:

                      NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: WILLETS POINT Enough Yankees Already. The Mets Have Their Own Plans

                      By NORIMITSU ONISHI
                      Published: July 24, 1994

                      Even as the Yankees' future in the South Bronx becomes more and more uncertain, the Mets are making sweeping plans that could profoundly alter the face of Queens.

                      Fred Wilpon, a co-owner of the team, said that if all goes according to his plans, the Mets will be playing in a new domed stadium just east of Shea within four years. The old Shea Stadium will be torn down and replaced by a giant parking garage. Around it, Mr. Wilpon said, there will be an entertainment center with a permanent, high-tech "world's fair."

                      The plans were announced last year, but within the next two weeks, the Mets are to give the city a report detailing projected costs and financing of the stadium, and the city will begin the process of relocating small businesses in the area of growth.


                      Rudy Washington, the commissioner of the city's Department of Business Services, said that after reviewing the Mets' report, he and community leaders would discuss the project's impact on Queens. He planned to speak with business owners in the Willets Point Industrial Park, just east of Shea Stadium. Those businesses will have to be moved to make way for the stadium and entertainment center, he said.

                      Although Mr. Wilpon declined to reveal projected costs of the stadium, he said revenues from its operation would cover construction costs. "We will not ask for any general funds from the city or the state," he said.

                      Shea Stadium, which opened in 1964, is owned by the city. The Mets' lease expires at the end of 2,004.

                      The Mets hope a new stadium and entertainment center will return attendance figures to the levels of the mid to late 1980's, when about 3.5 million fans went each season. Last season, attendance was 1.8 million.

                      Proponents of a domed stadium say the Shea, while adequate, lacks the distinctiveness that makes the stadiums in Toronto and Baltimore inspire crowds, no matter how well the hometown teams perform. They say the 30-year-old structure is rundown and "generic" and could not be part of an entertainment mecca attracting tourists who would otherwise not visit Queens.

                      Mr. Wilpon said the Toronto Blue Jays have averaged four million for the last three years, partly because of the team's success, but also partly because of its new Skydome. To reach those attendance figures, he said, baseball must be supplemented with other kinds of entertainment.

                      The project is still more drawing paper than contract, but Mr. Wilpon's dreams are detailed. He hopes companies will set up pavilions to showcase a particular theme, like the Wild West, and ticket buyers would be transported there through virtual-reality and other interactive technologies.


                      Compare Fred’s original plans with this:

                      http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?...=.jsp&c_id=mlb

                      Mets unveil model of new stadium
                      Facility will pay homage to New York and club's history

                      By Bryan Hoch / Special to MLB.com

                      NEW YORK -- Speaking about the Mets' 21st century field of dreams on Thursday, Fred Wilpon struggled to maintain his composure, his voice cracking with emotion.

                      As the Mets unveiled their digital visions for tomorrow, releasing images of a new ballpark, Wilpon was thinking not of the computer-generated plans for the striking open-air, baseball-only facility or its modern-day amenities.

                      Wilpon's thoughts had drifted back to his own personal field of dreams, Brooklyn's Ebbets Field.

                      Suddenly, Wilpon could see himself at eight years old, holding his father's hand and walking through the elaborate rotunda, embracing an afternoon in the sun to watch his beloved team.

                      "It chokes me up every time I look at the plans," Wilpon admitted.

                      Suddenly, a new slate of future memories does not appear quite so far away.

                      Highlighted by the exhibition of a stunning 360-degree, three-dimensional computer model, the Mets' next home was displayed in a ceremony at Shea Stadium's Diamond Club on Thursday.

                      "We heard Fred talking about the stadium, not in terms of dollars and cents, but thinking back to when he went to Ebbets Field with his father," New York Governor George Pataki said. "You could sense the emotion in his voice. This is not just a business venture; this is a passion of bringing people together."


                      As you can see from the preceding article, rebuilding Ebbets Field wasn’t exactly a lifelong dream of Fred’s, but as this article later implies, he couldn’t hustle enough free money for the dome. Why all the sickening nonsense portaying Fred as sentimental? To make the impending land heist seem less demonic? Who knows.

                      I think of the ongoing $3+ billion dollar Willets Point development project every time I hear a news story about service cuts or doomsday budgets.

                      As for "Citi Field" having more intimacy: have you been there? With all the luxury suites, restricted luxury areas, private clubs, restaurants, food courts, etc., the mall has sprawl.


                      "The Fightin' Met With Two Heads" - Mike Tyson/Ray Knight!

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