This is Citi Field, or at least a picture of it I stole off Reddit; the actual ballpark is very large and cannot be sent over the innertubes. The place is three or four years old and is gorgeous and modern and high-tech and does not smell like urine.
This is the rotunda:
Look how rotund that rotunda is. There’s sunlight and tasteful design and Jackie Robinson, and it also does not smell like urine. You know what did smell like urine? This dump:
That’s Shea Stadium, where the Mets (and the Giants and the Jets and, for the 1975 season, the Yankees) played. At some point, the builders meant to hire someone to, you know, design it but ran out of time and said, “Fuck it: perfect circle made out of concrete.” That’s all Shea was: no beauty or personality, just a drab and utilitarian pit in the worst neighborhood on earth.
Citi Field was built in the parking lot, so it is also in the worst neighborhood on earth, but at least it’s got WiFi and a gluten-free option. The promotional materials for the Mets claim their home is in Flushing, but the area is more precisely called Corona Park, and there is not one business in the neighborhood that takes credit cards. The whole place is a cash-only zone, and not because of crime: nothing in Corona Park has any sort of license. It’s just chop-shops and garage mechanics and hot-sheet motels. It’s actually wonderful refutation of that “stadiums revitalize neighborhoods” bullshit that owners roll out when they want someone to buy them a new ballpark.
Shea wasn’t notably ugly compared to other stadiums of the era: they were all circular because they were all multi-purpose, football and baseball, which meant the place was terrible for both. The upper-deck might as well have been in New Jersey, and the seats faced straight forward, which meant unless you were right behind home plate, you had a crick in your neck by the fifth inning. The picture above is from the 60’s or 70’s; by the early 80’s, the Mets were the only team using the joint, so they put in orange and blue seats.
They looked like this:
That is not TotD, but it might as well be: the otD family went to Shea three or four times a year, and don’t let it sound like I have no good memories from the place. I saw Darryl Strawberry win a game with a pinch-hit home run, and I also ate ice cream from a miniature Mets batting helmet, which is the best way to eat ice cream. Like the young man in the picture, I also brought my glove (a Keith Hernandez first baseman’s model) to the game, and though I never caught a foul ball, I did whack my brother in the head a few times, which is pretty good.
No, the main problem with Shea Stadium was the smell, which was urine. I came to believe, summer after summer, that the concrete had been poured using piss instead of water. The aroma was baked into the bones of the building; you would get there early, for batting practice, when the stadium was as clean as a place made out of cement can ever be. Still: urine, and what makes even less sense is that Shea did not have enough bathrooms. No matter where your seats were, you had to walk to the other side of the field and down two levels to take a whiz.
There was also this bullshit:
That is not Shea, but Citi Field was built in the parking lot and so shares the problem of being around 500 feet from the main runway at LaGuardia. That plane is actually that low, and there’s another plane two minutes behind it, and another one after that. If there was a delay at the airport, a helicopter was dispatched to hover over second base for a while to make noise. Shea Stadium was the ballpark version of Harrison Bergeron: every two minutes there’d be this BWAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH overhead and you would forget your own name.
Speaking of names, Shea did have a good one. The primal sound of it–shaySTAYdeeyum–is happy and rhythmic, but Citi Field is a lovely noise as well, and though it is a corporate naming-rights deal, it could have been so much worse. (Younger or forgetful Enthusiasts should google “Enron Field.”) William Shea was a well-connected lawyer and team owner who helped bring the National League back to New York after the Giants decamped for the Coast. Sadly, he died during construction; in accordance with his will, his ashes were mixed into the foundation.
Some parks need to stay, and there should be games in them for as long as the Republic stands–Fenway and Wrigley and Chavez Ravine–but no one will miss Busch or Veterans or even the Astrodome; no one should miss Shea either, at least not the actual building. The new digs are spacious and clean and wired for sound. They’re better.
Plus, George Foster has never played at Citi Field, which is a huge win for the new place.