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Mets retooling: closer fences, more hospitality

New York MetsThe New York Mets have had an absolutely horrendous offseason, focused more on financials than fielders. But everything is new on Opening Day, and the Mets start with a clean slate.

With budget issues, lawsuits and clawbacks related to team ownership investments with Bernie Madoff, Mets fans spent more time looking for team news on the financial pages than in the sports section. Jose Reyes was lost to the Marlins in free agency, and the franchise didn’t sign any big-name free agents to either fill the void or make headlines in the competitive New York City media market. And attendance last year proved the honeymoon with Citi Field is certainly over.

So when you don’t have many stars (or wins) to sell, you sell the ballpark experience. The Mets are retooling on the ballpark side in two ways: moving in the fences to add offense, and adding new hospitality areas to move tickets. The home-run fences at Citi Field were moved in and straightened out; no more jagged edges. We’ve written about the fence changes in the offseason: The fences were moved in as much as 12 feet in some spots, with the height of the home-run line lowered to eight feet throughout the outfield. The new fence will be blue, while the home-run line and distance markers will remain orange. The Mets erected a new wall in left field starting between the New Era and Caesars signs and angled to the Citi sign in left-center. The new wall is closer to home plate by approximately four feet in left field and up to approximately 12 feet in deep left center. A new wall starts in right center and extends toward the bullpen, and is approximately 11 feet closer to home plate. The fence in front of the Mo’s Zone/Modell’s Clubhouse was moved in approximately 10 feet. The distances from home plate to center field and the foul poles in left field and right field remain the same.

Besides keeping stars like David Wright happy, moving in the fences had one other big side effect: it allowed the Mets to add new hospitality areas between the new and old fences. A new Party City Deck adds 102 new seats in Citi Field, while Modell’s Clubhouse was expanded by 33 seats, putting total capacity at Citi Field to 41,922.

Right now the Mets are a distant second to the New York Yankees in almost every measure: attendance, revenues and on-field performance. It wasn’t always that way, of course, but Sandy Alderson has a multi-year challenge in putting the franchise back on solid ground. Ken Davidoff has a nice look at what the Mets will need to do to be competitive in the future at every level.

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