Name: Citi Field
Location: Flushing, Queens
Opened: 13 April 2009
Architect: HOK Sport (Populous)
Cost: $900 Million
Capacity: 41,800 (original)
Surface: Kentucky Bluegrass
Citi Field is a unique combination of things. It's a beautiful new ballpark, built as an homage to one of the gems of the golden age of baseball (but which was a ballpark for a different team, that played in a different borough of New York, but nevermind that.)
Citi Field is, in a few ways, a "tale of two Citis". (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
Although a stylistic tribute to Ebbets Field, in many ways it has more of a fake, "McMansion" feeling about it, a cloying "ye olde" feeling that just doesn't quite carry off the image. (Maybe it's the fact that it's in Queens, across the bay from LaGuardia. New Yorkers don't suffer artifice gladly.) In many cases, they took elegant, frankly beautiful original elements of Ebbets and smoothed them over, modernizing the look, which goes against the presumed intent.
Inside, it's got everything you'd want/expect from a modern ballpark: wide concourses, outfield plazas, good sightlines. (Again, like many of these beautiful new baseball palaces, all that is missing is a winning team.) But, again, where they could have done more to capture the ambience of Ebbets Field, Citi Field is instead a mish-mash of modernity, with no overarching stylistic throughline.
Outside, it's a disaster. Built in the former Shea Stadium parking lot (the site of Shea has, in turn, become Citi Field's parking lot), Citi Field is surround on three sides by parking lots. As you no doubt know by now, we're not a fan of a ballpark surrounded by a sea of pavement. But, as I said, that is on three sides of the park. The east side of Citi Field is bordered by scrap car lots, junkyards, and abandoned lots filled with garbage.
Shea Stadium had a kind of working-class, no-nonsense, don't-mess-with-me New York vibe. Citi Field, on the other hand, with its look-how-charming-I-am appearance can't really pull it off on the mean streets.
Interestingly, when we first released the Citi Field print, I was excited, because Citi Field -- for all of my negativity -- really is a good-looking park. And, speaking as an outsider, it seems a massive upgrade from the dumpy old concrete donut of Shea.
To my great surprise, the number one comment from Mets fans wasn't "thanks for releasing Citi Field" but "when are you going to do Shea?"
And, to this day, Shea outsells Citi Field by a pretty wide margin. As one Mets fan said, "yeah, it was a piece of sh*t, but it was our piece of sh*t."
Can't argue with that.
Should you try to catch a game at Citi Field? Hey, I'm never going to tell you to miss a baseball game if you could go to one. But, all things being equal, you can probably find a better way to spend your time in New York.
Drop your thoughts on Citi Field (or Shea!) into the comments below for a chance to win a FREE PRINT from Ballpark Blueprints.