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Citi Field

Citi Field

Play ball! Citi Field grand opening is here.
The Mets don't beat the Yankees too often.

Interleague play? Yankees, 39-27. 2000 World Series? Yankees in five.

The Yankees have been around a lot longer, have more World Series trophies, more Hall of Famers. More history.

The Mets will beat the Yankees today, however. To the punch.

The Mets will be the first to open their new baseball stadium when the $800-million Citi Field opens its doors for a 1:10 p.m. game between the St. John's and Georgetown baseball teams.

Fans scarfed up 30,000 tickets in 45 minutes when they went on sale March 2. Twelve thousand more were distributed through schools and community groups, meaning all 42,000 seats could be filled.

But chances are fans won't stay in those seats for long. Most probably will spend time walking around the new ballpark, checking out the concourses, the food stations, the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, the quirky outfield configuration, the 50-feet-high by 70-feet-wide centerfield scoreboard, the nine merchandise shops, the 646 restrooms.

Well, maybe just one or two of the 646 restrooms. But you get the point. For fans, Citi Field will be a feast for the senses.

For the St. John's and Georgetown players, it will mark a chance to play in a brand-spanking-new major-league ballpark, and to make history doing so. The NCAA Division I single-game attendance record for baseball is 40,106 for a game between San Diego State and Houston at San Diego's Petco Park in 2004.

For Citi Field workers, the game will be a chance to road-test the new digs. Will everything be ready? No, according to Mets executive vice president of business operations David Howard. But most everything will be, and the Mets will get two other chances to take the new ballpark out for a spin when the Mets host the Red Sox in a pair of exhibition games Friday and Saturday.

"The Delta Sky 360 Club ," Howard said. "That's the premium club right behind home plate. It's operating in conjunction with Danny Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group. They made very extensive modifications, and that delayed the finish. They'll be close to finished on Sunday, but we're not planning on opening that space. The Sterling Suites, right next to that, won't be open, either. And the Fan Fest area in centerfield, the play space for kids, that probably will not be open for Sunday. But both will be open for the Red Sox games."

Howard said the biggest logistical challenge for today and the early part of Citi Field's life will be trying to help fans figure out where everything is. By the time it closed, Mets fans had had more than 40 years to get used to Shea Stadium, such as it was. They will know they are not at Shea anymore the minute they walk into Citi Field. They also won't know their way around their new baseball home.

"For the first part of the season, our fan base has to learn the building," Howard said. "It's very different from Shea Stadium. We've given extensive training to our game-day staff to help them navigate this beautiful building. It's a challenge, but I'm sure we can meet it. It lays out pretty well, and it's pretty self-descriptive. Shea was a little harder because it was circular. This ballpark contours to the playing field."

Unfortunately - or fortunately, depending on your point of view - the Citi Field staff might get to test out the drainage system and the tarp that covers the infield. The forecast for today calls for a 30-percent chance of showers.

Rain, however, probably would not ruin the spirit of this dry run. Even if it pours, the first totally new New York City baseball stadium to open since Shea debuted in 1964 will begin its existence today. That's a full five days before new Yankee Stadium opens Friday with a 7 p.m. exhibition game against the Cubs.

Just in case, though, the Mets' exhibition game against Boston on Friday is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. So even in the event of a rainout today, the Mets will win this race to be first against their crosstown rivals.

Hey, it's a start.

Original Source :,0,2921324.story