This is your complete, all-inclusive, Amazin’ly helpful Citi Field guide – everything you need to know about getting tickets, seating, getting to the ballpark and food at the beautiful home of the New York Mets!
Citi Field is well worth a visit for any baseball fan…it’s a eye-catching ballpark with terrific sightlines (in most cases), and possibly the best food selection in the major leagues. Oh, and a good team to boot these days. Sure, go to Yankee Stadium if you want to see the history and all that, but don’t make a trip to New York and miss out on the first class ballpark in Flushing.
I’ve gathered plenty of knowledge about the place and am happy to share it with you…there’s a lot to know, especially about getting here and the food, so let’s break this down:
Lots to cover here, so after this quick word from our sponsor, we’ll get started!
Citi Field Guide, Part 1: Finding Cheap Mets Tickets
OK, so your first job is to get tickets to the game. You have numerous options for getting Mets tickets, and you can save a bunch of money choosing the right one. And that depends on whether you’ve chosen a low or high demand game.
High demand games are Opening Day obviously, as well as any contests against the Yankees, Red Sox, or Phillies, so pick a game against Oakland or other west coast opponent if you want a cheaper ticket. Similarly, Friday and Saturday games sell many more tickets than weeknight games, and July and August games are more populated than April or May games. You could find a steal on tickets for a game against Colorado on an April weeknight.
As you’re reading this, you should sign up for the Mets’ ticket alert newsletter. The newsletter will alert you to dynamic pricing bargains, pre-sales (where you can often get tickets for Yankees games at face price), and giveaway nights. The Mets offer discounts that you’ll see in the emails, including waiving ticket fees on occasion. You also might score a nice deal on your birthday.
If you order through the website, you’ll probably need the MLB Ballpark app; have the tickets loaded onto your phone and you won’t need to remember to bring them.
Remember the name of the ballpark…if you aren’t a Citi credit card holder, I highly recommend that you sign up and ask for one. In fact I ordered my Citi MasterCard for this very reason. Citi cardholders get deals on tickets, food and merchandise, and you may have access to pre-sales before non-Citi people do.
You can also sign up for the Mets fan club, Club Mets, which includes tickets and other benefits that make it well worth the price. Get the kids into the Mr. Met Kids Club too…although you might have to go to a few games to make that worth it.
Aside from the Mets’ website, you can also obviously buy tickets at the box office like we did in the days before electricity. Remember that there’s more than one ticket office at the ballpark, and if the front gate ticket office has long lines you can find another gate and ticket office. Or use the ticket kiosks…you’ll be amazed at how fast they spit out your tickets, and for some reason people don’t use them.
For a high demand game, you’re best off planning ahead and getting your tickets from the Mets as soon as they go on sale; for low demand games you can choose a third party site like TickPick and wait as late as you can for prices to come down (they usually shut down sales two hours before game time). Try to get tickets from a season ticket holder; these tix include some nice club access, great on hot days or cold nights.
If you choose to go third party, remember the fees and go all the way to the checkout screen to compare. See what you’re really paying; there can be a sizable difference.
In my Mets game travels I haven’t seen a whole lot of scalpers; you can generally find a few on the way to the ballpark from the 7 or LIRR stations. In those paths, incidentally, you might find someone with extras willing to part with them at a better price. There is a radius around Citi Field where scalping is illegal, and the train stations are within that radius, so be mindful.
If you do use a scalper, check the date and the opponent on the ticket, and look for any type of uneven cuts or anything.
I’ve written more about buying baseball tickets on Craigslist here; but as you probably know, there’s no checks in place on Craigslist. Most people selling tickets are legit, actually, but treat them as you would a scalper and check the tickets carefully, especially for a big game. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t buy it.
Citi Field Guide, Part 2: Choosing A Great Seat
OK, so you’ve decided to get tickets, now you have to decide where to sit. This is a big decision, believe me…part of enjoying the Citi Field experience is choosing a good seat. I speak from experience on that.
If you’re interested, and have plenty of time on your hands, I go into much more detail about Citi Field seating here; but for this guide, I’ll try to keep it simple and help you get the best bang for every budget.
If cost is no issue to you (baseball can always find a way to test the meaning of “cost is no issue”), go for the Delta Club seats; they are large, padded, and behind home plate, and they include access to the Delta Club and its chef-prepared food offerings. But if you want club access with good food and don’t quite want to pay that much, the Hyundai Club seats have a sweet birds’ eye view, and a club with food and non-alcoholic beverages included in the ticket.
The food for both of these clubs is high quality, and you can also order food service and have it brought to your seat. If you get the really high end Clover seats in front of the Deltas, your ticket includes complimentary food from anywhere in the ballpark, but you’ll pay a price for that.
For medium budgets…again, you’ll be defining “medium”, but just saying…the Field Level seats at first and third base and beyond are a decent deal. For some games, just being one section over from the Delta Clubs can be a triple digit difference in price. The field level seats are angled toward the infield, so you can a comfortable view without turning your neck.
If your budget is small to medium, I recommend going for the Promenade Box seats, closer to home plate if you can. It’s a good view for upper level seating, and you’ll have access to the Jim Beam Highball Club, which is worth it just for the outstanding food offerings.
The 400 level of seating is considerably pricier than the Promenade Reserved 500 seats in the section above them, but you also have the peace of mind of no obstructed view (more on that in a bit). If you still want the club access without the additional price, you can try to get Promenade Reserved seats from a season ticket holder. (This is one of my favorite Citi Field tricks.) Season ticket holders get access to the Caesars Sportsbook restaurant in left field, the Highball Club, and the Piazza 31 Club. Try ‘em all out for size.
The Coca-Cola Corner seats are the sections underneath the big Coca-Cola sign in right field; these are pretty affordable seats. The view isn’t great, and the sun beats down hard on these sections well beyond any other section. But there’s a fun play area and a separate concourse.
The Coca-Cola Corner seats, like the Left Field Landing seats also on the Mezzanine (Excelsior) Level, also include access to the Piazza 31 Club behind home plate. This is helpful not just for better food choices, a nice view of 7 trains coming in, and a space to duck out of the climate, but also to avoid having to move to another level just to get to the other side. Useful knowledge if you use the wrong entrance.
If you just want as cheap a seat as possible, the Promenade Outfield seats are the cheapest in the ballpark as of this writing, and for good reason…they’re high and far, especially in left field, and on a windy day the upper left field seats can be unnerving.
You also might have to deal with the obstructed views from glass landings on the Promenade Reserved level. To keep it simple, stay out of the low rows (1-3), or at least look for a high-numbered seat in a row. Seat 1 is always on the home plate side. If all else fails, you can call the Mets Fan Assistance (646-438-5000) and they should help you find a better spot.
Finally, for standing room at Citi Field, you have counters to lean on throughout the lower level concourse, so you can usually stake out a relatively comfortable spot. Lots of SRO types get their Amazin’ Mets pass, which includes entry to all of the games in a month for a reasonable price if you use it a lot.
Center field is a popular spot for standing room, probably because of the superb food selection. (I’ll get to that, I promise.)
Citi Field Guide, Part 3: The Best Way(s) To Get To Citi Field
I stated in my guide to Yankee Stadium that it takes skill to drive a car in New York City, and Queens is no different than the Bronx in this regard. If you’re a first time visitor to this ballpark especially, I highly recommend against driving to a game, but if you insist, I’ll help you with that.
But first, the best, easiest, and probably cheapest way to get to Citi Field is by train…either the MTA 7 train, or the Long Island Rail Road.
The 7 train is cheaper, but it’s considerably slower and gets much more crowded; it’s elevated most of the way through Queens from Manhattan, and the ride isn’t appealing to the eye unless you like graffiti. It’s 19 stops from Times Square to the Mets-Willets Point station; if you can get on the express (the one with the diamond around the 7), it’s just nine, so use the Express if you can. The MTA usually runs several express trains back to Manhattan after the game…definitely wait for a diamond train if you can.
The nice thing about the 7, other than sharing a ride with lots of Mets fans, is that the train drops you right there at the ballpark, and it’s pretty cool to watch Citi Field come into view, so get a seat on the left side of the train if you can.
The 7 train is nowhere near as bad as Braves reliever John Rocker was once reported as saying (Google it if you want to know). Just be aware that for Mets games it gets packed, especially after the game. You’ll probably be standing after the game unless you wait for a few cars to leave.
All of this is why I prefer the LIRR; the Mets-Willets Point station of the Port Washington Branch is a few more steps away from the ballpark, but the LIRR train is a much more pleasant ride. It’s a couple bucks more than the 7, but you’ll likely have a seat (and a more comfortable one than on the 7), and it’s just two stops from Penn Station in Manhattan and can be used from many points in the other direction.
Believe me when I tell you, the LIRR is worth both the extra few bucks and the extra walk, even if you have to do it on both ends. Standing on a 7 train for 19 stops after a ballgame can be rough. (Done that, and I’m happy to share tips based on hard experience too.)
Wherever you’re coming from, those are basically the two trains you should find your way to. Unless you are indeed taking on the monumentally frustrating task of driving your car to and from Citi Field.
The first thing you need to know is that traffic backs up considerably within an hour before game time (naw…really?). In my experiences I’ve observed that the worst traffic backups come from the Whitestone Expressway (25A) north of the ballpark; the Van Wyck Expressway (I-678) and Grand Central Parkway both dump traffic onto Whitestone at their Citi Field exits. If you can avoid that junction, do it, or just get here earlier if you can.
Similarly, after the game the Citi Field parking lot is, of course, a parking lot, and can take a very long time to exit. The Mets’ “A” parking lot north of the ballpark is where the employees park, but you can get a spot there if you’re early enough, and it’s an easier out onto the major roads. You should be able to buy a pre-paid parking pass from the Mets, but jump on that as soon as you can.
You can also pre-pay for your parking; while you won’t find much in the way of garages close to the ballpark, you should be able to find something in NYC you can use close to a 7 station, and from there take a cheap train ride to the ballpark. You’ll still come out ahead in cost and aggravation if you do it right.
Finally, here’s my favorite Citi Field parking trick…the Southfield commuter lot across the street from the ballpark doesn’t kick in its game rate ($30 as I write this) until 9:00 for day games or noon for night games…so get there early, park for a fin, and take a train somewhere in NYC and enjoy a day in the city and a deli sandwich or something. Come back to the ballpark, enjoy the game, and it’s a short walk back to your car next to the suckers who paid $25 more.
You can find some free street parking west of the ballpark; the side streets along 114th and 114th Street itself usually have some space where you can park with no meters. It requires crossing a freeway exit ramp to get there, but it’s easy enough with basic caution, and this spot is almost as close as the $30 west lots at the ballpark. I’ve read accounts of people having success with this, but this is Queens, so try it at your own risk. I wouldn’t park a Benz there.
Honestly, Citi Field isn’t a place where I’d ride a bicycle to the game, even though the Mets have bike racks. But if you do try it, there’s plenty of NYC bicycle maps available on the web to plan your route; it’s 9.3 miles and about an hour ride from Grand Central if that’s your starting point.
I also recommend against taxis or rideshares…it will be a long ride with the meter running, especially after the game. Find a way to get to the LIRR if you’re willing to shell out that much.
Citi Field Guide, Part 4: What To Eat At Citi Field
I’m happy to help you decide what to eat at Citi Field, but there are so many great options here…the Mets might have the best food selection in baseball. So I’ve devoted an entire blog post to Citi Field food…with appetizing pictures and everything. You can read that here; there’s much more detail about the restaurants and healthier items too.
But for this guide, I’ll go over just a few things you should know to help make the truly challenging decision of what to eat.
First, the center field food court…called the Taste of The City…is the spot for the classic NYC eats, and there’s a bunch of them. Most prominent is the Shake Shack and their Shackburgers, which are so popular that people will miss World Series innings waiting in line for one.
You can also find Pat LaFrieda’s steak sandwich cart here. LaFrieda is one of the prime purveyors of beef in NYC, which is probably saying a lot, and if you like caramelized onions, you’ll like this sandwich.
There’s also the Metropolitan Fry Factory, with crazy editions of loaded fries AND deep fried hot dogs, and the Tater Kegs from Amazin’ Chicken Co.
In the right field corner is the World’s Fare Market, where you can find healthier items. The Lobster Shack with expensive but tasty lobster rolls, and also a market with sushi and gluten free items.
Believe it or not, I am just scratching the surface and haven’t covered a wealth of other items, but this Citi Field guide is already clocking in at 4,000 words and there’s other stuff you need to know. Again, have a look at the full food post here (there’s even pictures of dessert waffles!).
But I will add this…even the basic stuff at Citi Field is pretty good. Nathan’s hot dogs (and their equally iconic fries), Premio sausages and Pat LaFrieda beef burgers are all very good, and the Mets even offer some great condiment stands with things like sauerkraut and NYC onion relish. There is no shame in going for the generic food items here.
So to keep it simple: think center field food court, right field market, and Hudson Club. And generic = just fine.
Finally, you can bring your own food into Citi Field (the Mets allow a 16*16*8 bag and don’t specifically prohibit food), but there isn’t much as far as takeout joints within a stone’s throw from the ballpark. Or a $3 train ride for that matter.
You could find some good ethnic eats on Main Street in Flushing a train station away (it’s actually not a long walk), but this is a lot of hassle just to save a few bucks. Bring a bottle of water since you’ll be thirsty and maybe some peanuts.
Citi Field Guide, Part 5: Bringing The Kids To A Mets Game
The Mets made their ballpark kid-friendly, with lots of activities both in the Mr. Met area in center field and also in the Coca-Cola Corner concourse. Kids can dunk a Mets employee dressed in the visiting team’s gear, play on a wiffle ball field, and toss cornhole bags in the Corner.
Sunday is by far the best day to take the kids, with a bunch of activities like face painting and a promo item for the little ones. (Arrive early for the swag.) Plus they’re usually day games, so the kids get home at a reasonable hour. Sundays include kids running the bases (the “Mr. Met Dash”), which is always a popular promotion.
If you’re bringing the little ones, have a look at the Mr. Met Kids Club and see if it’s worth your while. With membership your kid gets ticket vouchers, discounts on gear, and front of the line privileges on run-the-bases days…and you’ll want front of the line access for that. You can even take the kids to a Brooklyn Cyclones game with your free vouchers.
You can find discounted food items and kids meals at generic food stands, especially near the kids area in center field. Remember the bag policy; if you need to save money, bring your own bags of snacks for the kids to munch on.
Keep in mind the shade areas as well. If you’re sitting in right field and in the Coca-Cola Corner especially, bring a hat and sunscreen for the kids.
Finally, I wouldn’t take kids onto the 7 train, not because it’s dangerous but because trains get very crowded especially after a game, and it’s tough enough to keep an eye on little ones in NYC. If you can, either drive to the game and get there as early as you can, or use the LIRR.
Citi Field Guide, Part 6: Citi Field Photo-Ops + Other Tips
If you’re a Mets fan especially, or a baseball fan in general, the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum is worth a visit. It’s got plaques of Mets greats, the 1969 and 1986 World Series trophies, a jersey worn by Tom Seaver and multiple other tributes to great Mets moments.
It’s on the right as you enter the Jackie Robinson Rotunda gates, and you should go through as soon as you get in because it can get crowded. Conveniently, after jogging your Mets fan sentiment, the Hall drops you right into the Mets gift shop.
Despite the fact that he didn’t play for the Mets, it’s fair to recognize Jackie Robinson, since he broke the color barrier here in New York City, in the National League. The Jackie Robinson Rotunda inside the main entrance gates is indeed impressive and a fitting tribute to one of baseball’s greatest heroes. You can check out the nine values he was committed to and see beautifully arranged large scale photos of the man and his life.
Along with the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, there are some popular photo-ops at Citi Field, and I’m throwing in one most people probably don’t think of, at no extra charge.
Citi Field Photo-Ops, #1) The 42. Inside the main entrance in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda is the number 42, about six feet high reminding us all of the Ultimate Answer. This is a very popular photo-op, though, so you might want to wait until after the game to pose with this one.
Citi Field Photo-Ops, #2) The Shea Stadium Big Apple. The Mets brought over the home run apple from Shea Stadium; it’s on the plaza in the path from the 7 train station to the ballpark, so you can’t miss it. It’s a favorite spot for traveling fans to pose, like I did with my good friend Joe Mock of Baseball Parks here.
Citi Field Photo-Ops, #3) The Mets Hyundaimobile. As far as I know, this car is still inside the ballpark, just outside the Hyundai Club level. If you’re a Mets fan, you’d love driving it.
Citi Field Photo-Ops, #4) The View From The 7 Station. Citi Field is a quite impressive on the outside, and approaching it from either the 7 or LIRR gives a sense of both its size and its classic ballpark structure. You get something of a sense of what Ebbets Field was like except for the big parking lots.
Citi Field Photo-Ops, #5) The Coca-Cola Sign. If you can, you might want to actually get some video of the Coca-Cola sign in the right field corner, especially at night…the sign changes colors, has white suds flowing through it, etc. It can be fun to watch if the Mets aren’t holding your interest.
And don’t miss this one…
Citi Field Photo-Ops, #6) Bonus tip! The View of Queens. Take a trip to the concourse behind the Coca-Cola Corner and take a look at the neighborhood this beautiful ballpark is in…muffler and auto glass shops for blocks. One of my favorite things about Citi Field is this beautiful ballpark in the heart of a hard urban community. It’s classic NYC.
Finally, I’ll concede that Citi Field does have some flaws…like some less than stellar seats and insufficient access by car…but it’s truly a beautiful ballpark to walk around in and the food selection is second to none. It’s a great place to see a game if you know what you’re doing, and it’s an ideal counterpoint to its neighbor in the Bronx. Citi Field has grown on me a lot, and it will on you too.
I hope that you’ve found this Citi Field guide to be helpful in saving money and avoiding the pitfalls…if you’d like to know more about the Mets ballpark, you can check out this much more detailed seating guide with lots of helpful tips, and this complete guide to the duly impressive food menu at Citi Field. If you’re doing a NYC baseball trip, be sure to read my guide to Yankee Stadium too!
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