2006_11_citifield.jpg

2006_11_jackierobinson.jpgYesterday, the Mets organization and various city and state officials broke ground on the new Mets stadium, Citi Field.

There had been criticism about the Mets taking $20 million a year for 20 years (aka a "multi-faceted strategic marketing and business partnership") to name the stadium after CitiGroup, and not name the stadium Shea again or after Jackie Robinson. To which the Mayor said, "The people who said that aren't the ones putting up the money." Robinson's widow, Rachel, said she was "very pleased and honored" by the effort to highlight Robinson's importance. From the city's press release:

As the first step of the strategic partnership, the Mets and Citi will commission a statue and name the entry rotunda of Citi Field - inspired by the classic design of Ebbets Field - to honor Jackie Robinson, the legendary pioneer and great American who broke baseball's color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The partnership will include a significant commitment to recognize and perpetuate, in and around the rotunda and the community, Robinson's legacy and the "nine values" he embodied as articulated by his daughter, Sharon Robinson: courage, integrity, determination, persistence, citizenship, justice, commitment, teamwork, and excellence....

In addition, Citi and the Mets through a pledge to the Jackie Robinson Foundation will help create the Jackie Robinson Foundation Museum and Education Center in lower Manhattan. As much as a tribute to Jackie Robinson, the Museum and Education Center will serve as a venue for educating children about Jackie Robinson's pioneering spirit and serve as a source of inspiration for future generations. This partnership will support new programs for the Jackie Robinson Foundation including leadership development and scholarships for students who exemplify Jackie's humanitarian ideals.

The museum will be in Hudson Square. And there will be a tribute to William Shea, according to own Fred Wilpon (the Daily News has a column about Shea).

The new stadium will have a smaller capacity than Shea with 42,500 seats and standing room of 2,500. Since the seats are closer to the diamond, David Wright told the Daily News, "It's a beautiful thing, a beautiful thing - less room for me to cover at third base and more balls [will] get out of play for foul balls - and that's a good thing, no matter how you slice it, for a hitter."

2006_11_bloombmets.jpgThe Mets website has more details, including an overview ("unprecedented sightlines, amenities, and comfort"), "fly-through" Citi Field and more renderings. A sampling:

- The ballpark will feature some of the widest unobstructed concourses in new sports facilities. Concession stands and restrooms will be located within the facility's exterior walls leaving the circulation areas with uninterrupted views of the field.
- A structural steel "bridge" motif throughout Citi Field reinforces the Mets' connection to New York's five boroughs while also symbolically linking the team's storied tradition to its future. Design elements call for exposed trusses, light towers, scoreboard structure, and a roof canopy that recall the ballparks of yesteryear.
- Pitcher Friendly: Pitcher Friendly: Distinctive asymmetrical outfield walls, along with generous dimensions (LF - 335'; LC - 379'; CF - 408'; RC - 391'; RF - 330') make for a traditional pitcher's park.

The NY Times has some factoids("number of toilets will increase, to 646 from 568") and the Daily News also has a comparison graphic between Shea and Citi Field.

Construction will create more than 6,000 temporary full-time jobs. The Mets are putting in about $600 million of their money and about $165 million will come from the city and state. Opening day will be in 2009.