I don’t know if you’ve heard, but here in New York, we’ve got two new sports stadiums: a new Yankee Stadium and a new Shea Stadium for the Mets, called Citi Field. Both are brand, spanking-new, boasting food that one normally wouldn’t see at a ball park (pulled-pork sandwiches from the gourmet barbecue restaurant Blue Smoke as well as sushi, and host of other culinary delights), shopping, arcades, and hot tubs, to name a few. And let’s not forget the new, “green” urinals. They don’t use water! They use something else that I don’t understand to get rid of beer-infused urine! It’s all very exciting.
I love watching baseball—namely my New York Metropolitans—at home. Why? Because here in the New York metropolitan area, it’s hard to get anywhere by car, subway, or bus. It takes a long time to do anything. To go to a 1:00 p.m. Met game, we would have to leave here at around 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. if we were to drive. Same if we took public transportation. So, it’s been years since we have been to Queens to see a game. We usually huddle up in the living room, eating the foods that one would normally find at a game—chips and guacamole, hot dogs, beer, hamburgers—and watch our team blow a big lead in the bottom of the ninth. We’re fans. That’s what we do.
But all of this talk of Citi Field and its amazing amenities got me thinking that just once this year, we should go to a game. I thought the best thing to do would be to find a game that we could present to Jim as a Father’s Day present. I went on the web site, amazed at all of the wonders of this beautiful new ball park—because let’s face it, Shea Stadium wasn’t exactly a baseball Shangri La—and instructed the web site that I wanted four tickets for a Saturday afternoon game, for something called “best available.”
Well, it certainly wasn’t referring to the “best” price. Well, maybe if you own stock in Citi.
The computer clicked away and came back with four seats in one of the upper mezzanines for a grand total of $1560.00. I quickly pushed away from the keyboard, afraid that if I touched anything, a credit card that once had been stored in the computer after buying a pair of shoes would be charged for the tickets. After my heart stopped racing, I went back to the computer and tried to buy a cheaper set of tickets. Basically, I came up with four tickets at about $300.00 (if we wanted to actually see the game and not be sitting in the stratosophere) and started calculating our time at the ball field. With parking, food, a souvenir or two, we would be looking at a day that costs the family over four hundred dollars.
I’m sorry. That’s just criminal.
Isn’t baseball America’s pastime? Isn’t it the thing you did as a kid with your family that didn’t cost all that much, that took up an afternoon or evening, that was loads of fun and not a sock to the pocketbook? I know that sports has been like this for a long time—don’t even talk to me about what it costs to go to Madison Square Garden to see a Ranger game—but the fact that our under-achieving Mets have a new ball field sponsored by a company that is going bankrupt and still has the audacity to charge what they do for tickets and food just galls me.
We will probably go to a game over the summer. I’d like to see the new ballpark, see my team play, and sample some of the new food that’s being offered. (Because let’s face it, if they have food and it’s good, I’ll go anywhere.) But the fact that the cheapest seat at the stadium is $36.00 is just sad. How does a family of four or more go to a game without taking out a home equity loan? Particularly in this economy? I feel bad for all of the kids who won’t get to see a game at the ballpark, who won’t get to see David Wright take batting practice, or Johan Santana throw his warm-up pitches, or Carlos Delgado in the on-deck circle. Or, like my son, bring his glove because maybe—just maybe—he’ll catch a fly ball off of Carlos Beltran’s bat. Or have a hot dog loaded with yellow mustard and maybe some sauerkraut washed down with a watered-down soda. Heck, I feel bad for the adults who won’t be able to do all of these things.
So, how about it Major League Baseball? How about we forget about the fancy stadiums and fields and pulled-pork sandwiches and bring back $5 bleacher seats and $2 hot dogs?
Oh, that’s right. Because we have to pay some steroid-user sixteen million dollars a year to strike out in the playoffs. I forgot.