The New York Mets are often seen as the underdog of the New York teams, yet they still hold a special and sentimental place in many New Yorkers’ hearts. With the start of the 2019 baseball season, The Mets are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their first World Series win and the 10th anniversary of their newest home, Citi Field.
In 2009, the Mets replaced long time Queens icon, Shea Stadium, one of New York City’s lost stadiums, and has since then become a favorite destination for baseball fans from all across the country, no matter what team they’re rooting for. What better way to celebrate its 10th anniversary than with a list of 10 secrets of Citi Field!
1. Find Remnants of Shea Stadium in Citi Field
The skyline from Shea Stadium’s original scoreboard now lights up on top of Shake Shack.
Citi Field was built on the former site of Shea Stadium’s parking lot and holds a lot of memorabilia from the former structure that can be seen inside and around the current location. Some of the more notable remnants can be found in the current parking lot where there are plaques that mark the home plate, pitcher’s mound, and bases. Another remnant can be found inside the Hall of Fame and Museum, where there is a pair of bright orange Field level seats from Shea Stadium that you can actually sit and take pictures in.
Additionally, the skyline that sat above the original scoreboard was preserved and now sits above the Shake Shack at the “Taste Of The City” food court in Center Field. Finally, the original Home Run Apple, installed in 1980 behind the centerfield wall, sits right in front of the stadium’s main entrance and acts as a welcome sign for those coming off of the 7 train and Long Island Rail Road. These additions to Citi Field make wonderful tributes to the legacy and iconography of Shea Stadium.
2. Citi Field Sits on the Former World’s Fair Sites
Map of the 1939 World’s Fair, photo courtesy Justin Rivers
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was the site of two World’s Fairs built atop the former Corona ash dump, immortalized as the “Valley of Ashes” in literature by F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby. The site that Citi Field is on was a parking lot in both the 1939-40 and 1964-65 World’s Fairs, bounded much like today by the 7 train (IRT Flushing Line), the parking lot, Grand Central Parkway and the World’s Fair’s Marina. In 1939, that parking lot was named the Roosevelt Avenue Parking Field.
You can discover more on our popular tour of the remnants of the World’s Fairs, where we cover The Mets remnants at the top of the tour:
3. Citi Field is Designed in Homage to Ebbets Field
The arched exterior, down to the keystone at the top of each one, and the canopied entrance, are direct references to Ebbets Field, the stadium of the Dodgers that was once located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Fred Wilpon, the owner of the Mets, is said to be obsessed with the former stadium.
You can still find remnants of and references to Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, including the center-field flagpole, now located at Barclays Center. The actual site of Ebbets Field is now a 24-story housing development, known as the Ebbets Field Apartments. A cornerstone in inscribed with the words “This is the former site of Ebbets Field,” and in a parking lot just off Sullivan Place, a forgotten sidewalk plaque marks the original location of the Ebbets Field home plate.
4. The Mets Colors are Derived from Two Defunct NYC Teams
The Mets were created in 1962 to replace the New York Giants baseball team and The Dodgers. Both teams left for California in 1957 and 1959 respectively. The Mets hat (blue and orange) was conceived to honor these teams — the hat is dodger blue and orange logo is from the NY Giants. These colors are also official colors are of the City of New York, and you can see the orange and blue on the city flag.
5. There’s a Microbrewery at Citi Field
The front of Mikkellar NYC features artwork of a baseball player sliding into home plate.
With the growing trend of hometown beers and micro-breweries coming to New York City, it’s no surprise that one of the latest to open up is right here at Citi Field. In 2018 Mikkeller Brewing Company opened their newest brewery, Mikkeller NYC, between the Bullpen and Right Field gates. The location serves up over 60 local and small batch craft beers on tap alongside some amazing food selections provided by various restaurants around the city.
The brewery itself has a separate entrance and is technically considered to be outside of the Citi Field area, which means that you’d have to leave the stadium in order to go, so it is best to visit before or after the games. Luckily, this also means that the brewery is open year round to everyone without the requirement of a ticket to the game. Mikkeller NYC brings a welcomed trendy vibe to the baseball experience and is definitely worth a trip!
6. Explore the Massive Memorial to Jackie Robinson
The 42 tribute in front of the main Team Store. Visitors can stand on a recreation of Robinson’s footprint.
The main entrance to Citi Field, known as the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, is often passed right through by visitors that tend to miss all the little details that honor its namesake. The more prominent tribute is seen all along the top of the rotunda, where there are pictures and televisions playing videos of famous and notorious milestones in Robinson’s career.
A lesser acknowledged tribute is the large number 42 statue in front of the main Team Store, that is accompanied by a recreation of Jackie Robinson’s footprint and a dedication engraved in the tile. The entirety of the rotunda stands as a heartfelt and unique monument to Jackie Robinson’s legacy. Next time you pass through the main entrance, be sure to take a moment to look around and take in the history displayed around you!
7. Tour the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum
The Hall of Fame and Museum is free to enter and is full of articles from throughout the team’s history.
Tucked away next to the Mets Team Store in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda sits the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum. According to an Untapped Cities reader and former and former associate editor the Mets’ in-house magazine Inside Pitch, the Mets Hall of Fame “was only added AFTER Met fans complained that Citi Field was basically a tribute to the Brooklyn Dodgers, and had nothing in that honored the home team.”
The museum is open to any and all guests before, during, and shortly after the game and does not require an extra ticket or pass to enter. The museum hosts many different and notable Mets artifacts like the original Mr. Met costume, trophies and memorabilia from the 1969 and 1986 World Series, and the aforementioned Shea Stadium Field level seats.
The Hall of Fame portion of the museum consists of game-worn jerseys, newspaper and video highlights, and plaques dedicated to each of the players. If you’re looking to visit when the team isn’t home, Citi Field offers tours that give guests an in depth look at many different parts of the stadium that are off limits during game time. On your next visit, be sure to stop in to take a stroll through the Mets’ history.
8. See some of the Many Mets Super Fans
Nick Giampietro aka “Pin Man” is one of the many super fans that frequent Mets games.
New Yorkers are very passionate about their home teams. With a large fan base comes some interesting and dedicated people that don’t shy away from showing how much they love their team. A few of these prideful super fans roam around the stadium during the games throughout the season. One of these storied fans is “Cowbell Man” who is notorious for his 44-year-long commitment motivating the crowd by hitting his cowbell when the team is at bat or makes a great play, and can be heard from every seat in the stadium.
Another star of the fan base is “Pin Man”, who walks around the stadium with a custom jersey and cap featuring over 200 pins from throughout the team’s 57 year long history, including LED ones that say “Lets Go Mets.” There are also plenty of fans that hang out around the stadium with their own personal collections of pins, patches, fedoras, and stories that truly display the pure love they have for the team. These fans are considered to be beloved local celebrities and are often happy to pose for pictures and share their love for the Mets!
9. Eat Some Awesome Unconventional Food Options at Citi Field
Wowfulls serves ice cream in Hong Kong style egg waffles.
When people think of food at a baseball game, hot dogs, pop corn, peanuts, and cracker jacks, are the ones that tend to turn up the most. With the current trend of Instagram-worthy food, many popular destinations are adopting more unique and interesting delicacies to add to their menus. Citi Field sports its own impressive selection of treats to satisfy any craving.
Many of the vendors hail from popular spots around the city that have also appeared at Smorgasburg throughout the years. Some of the more popular additions include Big Mozz, Nicoletta, Pizza Cupcake, DŌ, Dulcinea, and Destination Dumplings. When making the trip out to the game, be sure to bring a big appetite!
10. Peek at the Players before the Action
The Bullpen Gate features a small seating area where visitors can watch the players prepare for the game.
When entering at the Bullpen Gate, be on the look out for the players as they prep for the game in the dugout. There is a small seating area adjacent to the Honda Clubhouse entrance where you can sit and observe the greats! The area gives guests a pretty close view of the team in anticipation for the game ahead of them. With the distance between the fans and the field being so big, it’s nice to be able to take a look at the people that make the whole thing possible!
And now, here are some additional ways to experience Citi Field on a visit!
There’s an Outpost of McFadden’s
McFadden’s is a fan favorite spot to go to after the game.
McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon, the well-known bar on E. 42nd Street, has an outpost right by the third base entrance to the stadium and is only open on game days, which makes it an exclusive spot to celebrate the team. Compared to its namesake, which is known for a rowdy, youthful after work crowd, the bar at Citi Field has a very fun, sporty atmosphere and is a popular destination for fans to celebrate and have fun when the game ends. The bar also has a range of Mets inspired merchandise and decor that celebrates the team and reflects the spirit of the fans.
Have a Fine Dining Experience at Citi Field
The Porsche Grille features a panoramic view of the field that allows guests to have a sit down meal while also enjoying the game.
In addition to the unique food kiosks scattered throughout the park, Citi Field also boasts some sit down restaurants that feature gourmet style food and great views of the game. Admission can be included in your ticket, depending on which package you opt for. You can also make a reservation in advance or walk in and wait for a table, though reservations tend to be recommended because of their popularity. Each restaurant has their own unique trait that drives fans in so everyone can look for the best they have to offer.
To get the best views, head to the Porsche Grille or Foxwoods Club, where you can get a wonderful look at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park or a stunning view of the New York City skyline. For a more exclusive experience, check out the Delta Sky360° Club, which features several different food options and takes up a whole floor of the stadium! These are some great destinations to dine on dishes created by the talent behind Tribeca Grille and Rao’s Specialty Foods, while having a glamorous day at the ballpark.
Enjoy Some Kid Friendly Fun!
Fan Fest sits right behind the scoreboard at Center Field and features many different activities and fun for kids!
Over the summer, during the peak of baseball season, Citi Field is the place to be for a fun day out with the kids. In addition to watching the game itself, there are lots of awesome things to do around the stadium. On the Concourse level is the Good Humor Fan Fest, where you can find Mr. Met’s Kiddie Field, a scale replica of the field just for kids to practice their playing skills! The Fan Fest also features video game kiosks, a batting cage, and a dunk tank, which makes it one of the best places for a kid’s day at the park.
If you’re looking to get the max amount of family fun, look no further than Citi Field’s Family Sundays. Every Sunday game features pregame goodies such as a bounce house, face painting, and a free giveaway item available at the Mets Plaza, located right in front of the main entrance. Additionally, at the end of Sunday games, kids ages 12 and under can run or walk the bases on the field in the Mr. Met Dash. There are many different kinds of kid friendly activities that are sure to keep the little ones entertained and having the best time at the ballpark.
Over the last 10 years, Citi Field has provided only the best baseball viewing experience. The amount of options and fun for everyone ensures that all guests get the most out of their visit! Make sure to keep an eye out for all the secret tidbits to add to your day at the game!
Looking for more baseball secrets? Check out 8 of NYC’s Lost Baseball Stadiums!