— Days Without Shea —

Today, I got to go inside Citi Field for the first time, as the Mets held an open practice for partial plan holders.

Seeing Shea's successor could have been a painful event. Fortunately, I got to experience the new ballpark with Ron Hunt, my Dad and my two oldest sons. I am still collecting my thoughts (and all the photos) and will share more over the coming days. But I'll post some initial reactions tonight.

We got there at 9:00 AM to allow ourselves plenty of time to walk the stadium. If I had to pick one word to describe the place, it would be: professional. This is not Shea Stadium, and I'm not talking about the looks. Everywhere you turn, there are stadium personnel walking around, answering questions and assisting fans. Yes there are food stands aplenty but there are also toppings stations, where fans can apply their own hot sauerkraut or onions. And every topping station had an attendant, constantly wiping down or replenishing. In Shea, I could rarely find a topping, much less a topping station. Much less a topping assistant.

From the "This would never happen at Shea" department: all the elevators have attendants too. At one point as we waited for an up elevator, an elevator going down opened in front of us. The guy at the controls had sunglasses perched atop his head. A passing supervisor saw this, and called out to the employee, "Do me a favor and take those sunglasses off."   I'm not sure the employees at Shea even had supervisors. I used to ask to see a supervisor years ago, like when my seat was broken or someone threw junk from the Mezzanine level down to Loge13. But these "supervisors" never arrived, making us all assume they didn't exist. Yet in Citi Field, there seems to be some sort of organizational chart, almost like a real business would have. Interesting.

The field itself looks great. There is hardly any foul territory, making the place feel very tight. Watching the Mets work out in this brick-faced, high-walled ballyard was odd, as if we were at a road game.

Not that we got much time to watch the workout. My kids loved the outfield terrace behind the big scoreboard. Warning: if you have kids, you will be spending alot of time out there too NOT watching the game. There's a wiffle ball field and two batting cages. My boys also spent time playing MLB09 Home Run Derby and watching the Hershey Park Dunking Station. Fortunately, the Blue Smoke stand is right there so you can grab some Chipotle Chicken Wings and draft beer while you babysit.

More photos and feedback in the coming days. Meanwhile, here is Citi Field in its Sunday morning glory:

 Citi Field on April 5, 2009

And here is the view of poor Shea Stadium. Not quite a parking lot yet. Keep up the fight Shea!

Shea Stadium outside Citi Field on April 5, 2009

The Jackie Robinson Rotunda is quite nice. Here is the giant #42:

Jackie Robinson number 42 at Citi Field

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