In 2007 – for the first time in my life I fulfilled a lifelong dream and became a Mets season ticket holder. Some friends and I ended up splitting 2 seats 4 ways – and visions of playoff games after the stunning near miss of 2006 danced in my head.
The last time I had anything close to access to this many Met tickets was my childhood in the late 1970′s and early 1980′s – when it seemed that someone always had a pair of tickets. I would even clip coupons from DairyLea milk cartons and mail them in for 2 free nosebleeds that seemed like gold to me at the time. That old Shea was never full – and you could always sneak down to the then yellow field level seats. (anyone remember the old seating color scheme?)
1984 was one of my favorite Met teams of all time (perhaps a column to come) – because it was the first really GOOD Mets team I got a chance to witness live – and sadly because it was the last season that tickets were easy to come by. (thank you – bandwagon… lol)
Anyway – digressing from the subject – of course my investment in a pair of Loge Box seats (on the first base side – pretty good seats at the old Shea) was also in part motivated by the imminent construction of the long awaited New Shea. (note: I refuse to call the Met’s new stadium by it’s corporate branding) So when 2009 rolled around – after two extremely frustrating seasons in which I unfortunately witnessed in person two agonizing final day of the season losses – I couldn’t wait to reap the rewards of my loyal financial support at the New Shea.
Now I realize that the New Shea has been discussed ad nauseum – but I wrote a post on the new Yankee Stadium’s pricey Legends Suite in my blog – so I figured why not a little something something for the seats I live in 20+ times a year!
The best thing about the Excelsior Level/Caesar’s Club? You can only access the level with a ticket. In other words it’s restricted access. So no matter what – while the field level is packed with throngs milling to and from the Shack – or just loitering around enjoying the convenient and well thought out standing areas – the Excelsior level remains relatively uncrowded. This means – less lines at the bathroom – easier access to $6 beer – and $7 sausage. Yay! (while I’m amazed that it isn’t abused – the public condiments area with sauerkraut and onions along with your ketchup/mustard is awesome! I feel like I get a dollar back on my sausage purchase in condiments easy)
Next best? A full service bar conveniently located behind the seats by the concessions. I ain’t a beer snob by any stretch – though I have no preference in ‘lite’ beer – Bud is fine with me at a ballgame. But it’s nice to enjoy a little variety once in a while and having access to the occasional Heineken, Stella, or Brooklyn is a godsend. I don’t touch the hard stuff (because I usually smuggle it in a Poland Spring water bottle). And er.. uh – I’m not an alcoholic – but I do like to get my game face on.
The Caesar’s Club behind home plate is a beautiful indoor room that looks like.. well.. it looks like the only thing missing is blackjack tables. There is a huge full service bar, a carvery and various different food options, tables, lounge chairs, and plasma screens everywhere showing the game. In short – it’s rain or blow-out heaven. Game delayed? No need to walk the packed concrete tier – get yourself a nice frosty one – park on one of the cushy lounge chairs and wait out the rain in style while you watch Mets Classics or ogle Julie Alexandria on the latest episode of Mets Weekly. Best part of the Caesar’s Club? No 7th inning cutoff! shhh….
(Honorable mention to the Hangar Steak sandwich with garlic fries in the Caesar’s Club. At $14 it’s no bargain – but the garlic fries are plentiful and delicious)
The view from our seats is good as is the view from pretty much all of New Shea. My one complaint is that the RF corner is completely cut off – so when David Wright loops one of his patented RF line bloops for a double the ball disappears from view momentarily until the RFer collects and fires it into 2nd base. It’s annoying more than anything else – but I guess I can’t complain too much. Wait a minute – did I mention that the face value for the Mets Yankees game in my seats is $120? Yeah I guess I am complaining…
New Shea is great for what it is. An amusement park of concessions and a quirky outfield that both includes a short RF porch along with uneven walls and depths that lead to many exciting extra base hits on balls in the gap. But it lacks character. Much has been said of the colors (dark grey OF walls) and a general lack of Mets branding in the stadium. And I have to agree. This isn’t 1962 and no one is still mourning the loss of the Giants and Dodgers – we’re Met fans for chrissakes! (ok – my dad is still mourning the loss of the Dodgers – but that’s it)
The wall height at New Shea is one of those don’t get me started topics. To me – a big wall like the Green Monster in Fenway is an interesting feature – but what’s with the double height wall in left field – and a small section of higher wall in front of the HR Apple? How does that make any sense? You take away the possibility of one of the most exciting plays in baseball (the rob a HR catch by an OFer) – and in return what do we get? A quirky OF? More exciting umpire replay delays when the ball hits the concrete above the fence and the umps can’t tell if it was out? Absolutely senseless. Either make a BIG wall – a mini-Monster – or keep them jumpable heights throughout – thank you…
(PS – I do like the Pepsi Porch – great place to watch the game – in the first few rows in fair territory that is, and an exciting component if we had ANY left handed power hitters in our lineup. Ahem.)
In addition – so far early in the season – as fans acclimate themselves to all the new places to spend $$$ – it seems like half the park is waiting on line at the Shake Shack for the first five innings. (and yes – I’ve done it once or twice as well). There’s simply no juice in the stadium. And I can’t believe I’m saying this but – Shea (the original) was actually a more exciting place to watch a game because – there was nothing else for fans to do there but watch and enjoy (and Participate in) the game… This Father’s day the loudest the stadium got was when 2/3 of the people had left (after the rain) and Beltran made a great catch (on one good knee). The third still in attendance made more noise than the almost full stadium before the rain delay…
I’m hoping sincerely that as we all get used to our new park that this will change. Hey don’t get me wrong – the New Shea is a great park – but aside from Castillo’s game winning hit early in the year against the Brewers and Santo’s big hit against the Marlins – I haven’t really heard the crowds at all. It’s a pity – and of course as things have taken a turn for the worse this season – it’s going to take some doing (winning) by the Mets to get the fans back into it.
The middle level of New Shea is an oasis between the madness of the field level and the bustle of the Promenade.
Especially on a rain threatened day – my recommendation would be to look for reasonable prices on StubHub – you really can’t go wrong with anyplace in the section (except the last few rows – then you might as well be standing).
Obviously from an amenities and non-game related standpoint – the New Shea is an amazing place. It’s almost as if it were designed for the casual – David Wright and 23 other guys Met fan. As for the hardcore – I think it will be some time and some further tweaking before New Shea feels like home. But at least you can enjoy yourself some good eats (and a full 9 innings of alchoholic beverage consumption) while you wait for the crowds to get serious….