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Citifield Rising

By Dana Brand
Posted Thursday, April 12, 2007

I’m still trying to come to terms with Citifield. I’m having problems.

I went to Shea for Opening Day and there it was. Right on top of Shea. I thought you’d at least be able to slide a paper clip between the stadium going up and the one that will be coming down. Apparently you can’t.

You don’t see a stadium yet. What you see is a bunch of concrete towers framing a space. One of the towers looks kind of finished and very medieval. You expect to see Monty Python knights shooting arrows off the top of it. The rest have their tops held in place by bright orange girders, with yellow scaffolds and wooden railings. The towers with these gaudy tops almost look like Chinese pagodas, connected by saffron-colored steel. There are three enormous cranes - two red, one silver - which look like mommy dinosaurs feeding stuff to little men on top of the towers. They did this throughout the whole game.

They didn’t even stop out of respect.

Shea deserves some respect. It proudly announced on the Diamond Vision that we were the largest Opening Day crowd in Mets history. 56,227. We will forever rank either number one or number two on that all-time list. You see the Shea crowd here on opening day? You see all of these bundled, cheering, freezing happy people filled with the hot dogs and hamburgers they grilled for themselves in the parking lot before the game? You see all those people around me as I am sitting up here in row Q of the Upper Deck? Now imagine that whole Upper Deck sliced off and all of those people, including me, dumped in the bay.

That’s your Citifield.

I hope you like how pretty it is. How intimate! How cozy! I will think of the happy season ticket holders admiring the improved sightlines as I am swimming around in the freezing bay two years from now. You don’t want to know what I’ll be thinking.

On the Loge Level, I saw an impressive collage of fake photographs of the new stadium. It will be pretty. I liked the one of the stadium at night. That looked especially nice. Of course it looks like Ebbets Field. But it also looks kind of ‘60’s-ish with the rounded Romanesque arches, sort of like the Metropolitan Opera House. Very nice.

Next to the fake photo display was a little clubhouse. Yes, a clubhouse. I don’t know what else to call it. There was a big glass door that said “Citifield” on it. There was a doorman who was letting in people who clearly had authorization or the expectation to be allowed inside. You could see inside and there was an enormous leather couch in front of a flat screen showing Mets highlights in a sort of vestibule. On the wall, there was a ceremonial shovel that looks as if it was used to break ground for the new stadium. Deep inside the clubhouse you saw a big, nice non-Shea-stadium-looking room, also with flat screens and with steam tables with a buffet and cookies and desserts and anything you could ever want. Who was this for?

When I got up to my seat, I could see the whole construction site. By next year, it will completely block our view out to Flushing to the left of the scoreboard. Shea will be boxed in. Crowded out. As it tries to entertain us. All of us. As it tries to interest us in the apple and in all of the things it has always tried to give us for so many years.

Cruelly, at the end of next year, after we’ve all had our cry, they will turn off its lights, pluck out pieces of it to sell for lots of money, and then they’ll bring over those cranes and a wrecking ball to smash it.

But let’s not dwell on that, the Mets say. Let’s watch the Citifield video between the innings. Oh the genius of corporate filmmaking. The Hal-type voice extols the new stadium. It reminds me of that short film in Woody Allen’s “Sleeper” that glorifies “our leader” and teaches us what’s wrong about The Underground. Surely this will be good for us all. We are all elevated by quality not quantity. Surely it is best that the largest National League city will have the smallest National League stadium. Middle-class people like myself don’t really need to see as many playoff or opening day games or crucial down-the-stretch games as we have seen in the past. The Mets can use a little exclusivity perhaps. Didn’t some of those tailgate parties strike you as a little dicey? At least caviar doesn’t have to be cooked.

I’m foaming at the mouth. Don’t show me that stupid video. Keep that rising little fortress from me just a little bit longer. I like Shea. No, damn it. I love Shea. I accept that it needs to be replaced. But until I know that the Mets will see Opening Day crowds of more than 50,000 for more than just one more year of their existence, I am not going to be happy, or quiet, or foamless.

* * *


You can contact Dana Brand at danaabrand@yahoo.com. Dana is the author of Mets Fan, which will be published by McFarland this fall. Please check out his book site at http://metsfanbook.com and his blog at http://metsfanbook.com/blog/
 
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Citifield Rising
Shea Stadium's future is clear. And while the new Citifield may be an improvement in every measurable way, noone will be happy to see the hollowed-out stadium subjected to the wrecking ball.


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