The Golden Local debate about New York's best new stadium has had more lead changes than a whole season of baseball. Here's a little food for thought about Citi Field to go along with a similar look at the new Yankee Stadium:
1. Intimacy - Shea Stadium was many things, but it wasn't a particularly welcoming place to watch a ballgame. You entered through a cavern of exposed pipe and industrial bric-a-brac, and then entered a cavernous bowl which always felt somewhat removed from the action on the field. If you were sitting in the upper decks, it often seemed like you were closer to oncoming planes than home plate. That's not the case at Citi. The ballpark opens and connects into the outside world, and the irregular arrangement of the seats serve to bring all of them closer to the action.
2. The Food - Each of New York's new stadiums have greatly upgraded the selection at their concession stands, but the Mets were wise to put their food in the hands of Danny Meyer. The man behind Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern has provided fans with a wide swath of options that does its best to mimic the culinary diversity of the home city. Shake Shack and Blue Smoke fit seamlessly into a ballpark setting, and the selection at the beer stand in left field can't be matched by anything in the Bronx.
3. Configuration of the Field - For those who like a quirky playing field, Citi Field can't be beat. A porch looms over right field as a beacon to lefty pull hitters, and underneath sits a jagged wall that serves a minefield for the fielders assigned to cover the area. There are seven different fence heights, vast power alleys and an imposingly deep center field, all of which combine to make games play differently at Citi than they'll play anywhere else in Major League Baseball.
1. Poor Sightlines - It is unforgivable that so many seats around Citi Field have obstructed views of various parts of the Stadium. In older stadiums, jammed into existing neighborhoods, such things were unavoidable. In a park that was the result of years of design, planning and spending, however, they should have been eliminated well before the Mets made it their home. The coziness mentioned above can't come at the expense of actually seeing the game being played.
2. Not Mets-y Enough - The complaint that's been heard most often about Citi Field is that it doesn't pay enough respect to the history of the Mets teams that came before. It's a valid point, and one that the Mets will hopefully address in years to come. The color scheme features far too little of the home team's blue and orange, and there are very few reminders of the great moments in franchise history. Even the pennants signifying the team's various postseason achievements are hidden near one of the outfield gates, rather than being a focal point. The stadium was meant to echo Ebbets Field, but spends too much time honoring the memory of the bygone Dodgers and too little celebrating the team that actually plays there.
3. Configuration of the Field - While there are those that love the quirks, there are at least as many who would call them needless contrivances. It seems like the park's designers haphazardly grabbed defining features from a half-dozen older parks, which gives it an inauthentic feel when compared to the Green Monster or the upper deck at Tiger Stadium. The hanging porch in right has already affected the outcome of one game, and there will be a massive outcry if the oddities conspire to cost the Mets a key game.