Citi Field Guide – Where to Park, Eat, and Get Cheap Tickets
After years in Shea Stadium, Mets fans moved just a few meters over to Citi Field. The stadium, a cheaper and more vibrant option than its counterpart in the Bronx, is a pitchers' park known for its massive scoreboards and generous "Free Shirt Friday" program. Learn more about Citi Field here.
Citi Field is the More Colorful and Energetic NYC Option - via Flickr user Eric Kilby
Citi Field was Designed to Emulate Ebbets Field - via Flickr user Eric Kilby
If you are looking for a literal piece of old Shea Stadium, the Amazin' Memorabilia Shop on the Field Level between home plate and section 114 sells certified autographs and pieces of Shea Stadium merchandise.
Arriving at Citi Field
Alternative/Public Transportion to a Mets Game
Most locals will select from the various public transport options available for Citi Field, avoiding the congestion of driving so close to LaGuardia Airport.
The cheapest option available is to ride the 7line which connects Queens with Manhattan. This subway line, marked in purple, runs both local and express trains to Mets-Wilets Point; make sure to catch the express if possible, as the local line can be a long and crowded ride. This line connects directly to both Grand Central Station and Times Square/Port Authority, so visitors from beyond NYC may want to consider leaving the car at home.
Another cheap public transport option is the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Mets-Wilets Point is a stop on the Port Washington line, dropping fans off just a two-minute walk from the stadium. Visitors can pick up the Port Washington line at NY Penn Station, connecting to NJ and other locations afield.
If you stay elsewhere in Queens with AirBnB, you can use the LIRR and transfer at Woodside, just a 5 minute ride to Citi Field. Trains leave Citi Field for Manhattan and beyond every half an hour, so plan your exit from the game accordingly.
Another option if you happen to be staying nearby is to avoid the crowded subway car and the stress of traffic and grab an Uber ride. The best plan is to walk out to Roosevelt Ave or to walk to a location along Shea Road for pick-up - Ubers can't come directly into the parking lot areas. If you've never used Uber, click here and get your first ride free.
Driving to a Mets Game
Believe it or not, there are places you can park for free near Citi Field. If you cross over Roosevelt Ave to the West side of the stadium, you will find a decent residential area south of Roosevelt. The streets in the area are one way, so you may want to turn left on 111th and then hang a left on 41st Ave.
If you can't find anywhere to parallel park there, go right on 114th and take the next right at 42nd Ave. Again you will need some parking skills, but these are unmetered residential spots that many times you can take. You should arrive in plenty of time for the game to do this.
The residential area just off Roosevelt Ave
If you do find parking, you really don't have a bad walk from there. Your car is going to be as safe there as it would be just about anywhere in the area in my opinion, but always use your best judgment when parking on the street.
If you are early, you will always have time to retreat and park in one of the easy to find official lots around Citi Field. These lots cost about $24 for a normal game, so its worth your while to try to find free parking in the neighborhood I think.
There are no discounts for the official lots, even for season ticket holders, so be wary of any offers online for cheaper parking in these lots.
The Citi Field official lots also technically ban tailgating, but that has not stopped the practice and the lot staff put up signs to direct tailgaters. Afternoon games in particular see an active tailgating scene, which then connects to the festivities often found outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. You can embrace tailgating culture even without parking in these lots.
The most stress-free choice for affordable parking at the Mets game is using Parking Panda. This lets you find a spot ahead of time and reserve it, so you know exactly where you are going before you ever leave your house. Here is a list of upcoming games, just click the date you need to find the cheapest spots:
The Jackie Robinson Rotunda - via Flickr user Dave Berkowitz
Best Food At & Near Citi Field
Save Money on Food
Aware of how to make money off a captive audience, the park has banned fans from bringing food into Citi Field. Visitors may bring one soft cooler with a single, 20 oz plastic bottle and a single child's juice box. No glass or metal containers will be permitted. However, food in ziploc bags is rarely confiscated.
There are not many convenience stores in the area surrounding Citi Field, so plan ahead if bringing in drinks or snacks.
One cheaper option for both food and drink is to skip the ticket price and join the massive crowd cheering on the team during games at McFadden's next to CitiField. The restaurant and bar open 3 hours before game time and offer special promotions for those in Mets gear.
Food in Citi Field You Shouldn't Miss
Shake Shack - while there are a number of food options and even burger options at Citi Field, the massive lines in front of Shake Shack aren't just for the great taste. Hidden behind section 140, these burgers are actually priced equally to the lower-quality burgers and chicken sandwiches, so come early and wait in line for burgers, cheese fries, and shakes. Vegetarians cannot miss the portobello burger with special sauce.
Box Frites - also behind section 140, this little stand offers large portions of fries and chicken paired with a variety of delicious sauces. Great for kids, this place also sells hotdogs with unique toppings.
Arancini Bros - tucked away in the Promenade Club behind Home Plate at the 400-500 level, this stand serves the best kept secret in Citi Field: flavorful fried rice balls. Coming in 6 different varieties, including a dessert Nutella ball, each serving consists of a half-dozen balls of your choice packed playfully in half an egg carton. Easy to split and tons of fun, these are the best bite in the park.
Cheap Mets Tickets
At this point, nearly every Major League team has some kind of variable pricing model where depending on how in-demand a game is, the ticket prices you'll pay at the gate may go up or down.
Sometimes pricing varies from day to day, other times it is a more formal "tiered" structure where when they are playing a big draw team like the Yankees, you'll pay a premium price compared to a perennial bottom-dweller who might be in the "budget tier."
So rather than focusing on specific prices and sections which tend to change fairly often, I want to talk about general rules and strategies for getting the best deals on tickets.
1. Compare 3rd Party Sites
SeatGeek is a big time ticket comparison site that lets you compare a bunch of different ticket brokers, marketplaces, etc. and find the best price for the game you want to go to. They also have a tool that projects whether ticket prices will go up or down - AKA whether you should buy now or wait.
2. Buy Last Minute
If you've bought tickets online before, you've heard of StubHub. What you may not know however is that with the rise of print-at-home and tickets on your mobile phone via the Ballpark App that you can usually buy tickets right up to a couple of hours before game time. It is easy to scan your phone at the main entrances, so skip printing your tickets altogether and just use the app to enter.
As someone who has sold a fair share of tickets on StubHub, I also know that sellers are encouraged to set a declining price for their tickets. This means they'll set a starting price and then their lowest acceptable price, and StubHub will auto-magically lower the price of those tickets as the event date gets closer.
If you arrive at the park and there are no longer tickets for sale, check on StubHub and purchase online - you can just scan your phone at the gates and enter!
So in many cases, a game that isn't sold out will have plenty of below face value deals on StubHub that you can snatch at the last minute and then either print at home, or just use the App on your phone to get scanned into the game.
Subway Series tickets against the NY Yankees are always the hottest of the season - via Flickr user r0sss
3. Avoid Craigslist
It's not to say that you can't find ticket deals on Craigslist, you can. It is just more of a peace of mind, safety issue. I'm a Craigslist kind of guy, but I also know it's easy to get screwed buying baseball tickets there.
Remember when I mentioned selling on StubHub? When you list tickets there, all you need to know is the barcode number from that ticket along with the other details on section, row, etc. - So when I sell tickets I never mail them to the buyer, they just print them at home and my actual tickets become void.
If I was a shady character, I could go sell those void tickets to an unsuspecting buyer on Craigslist for cash. The tickets look real, they are "real" in a sense - but what that buyer will find out is when they go to enter the stadium, the ticket scanner will say "thou shalt not enter thy game."
Don't be that buyer.
Stick to buying tickets from SeatGeek, StubHub, or directly from the team. You can still get deals and you never have to worry about being scammed.
4. Avoid the Scalpers
Outside of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, near the entrance to the subway and LIRR, await a pack of scalpers that operate illegally. Though banned by the park, they operate loudly and are hard to miss. Make it a point to miss them, though, for all the reasons described above with Craig's list - you have no way of knowing if their tickets are legitimate. If you arrive at the park with no tickets, skip the scalpers and just buy last minute on StubHub, then scan your phone at the gate.
Best Value Seats at Citi Field
The best way to save money on Citi Field tickets is to keep an eye out for sales and deals offered on the Mets team website - there are often large promotions during the dog days of August and September, especially if the team is not in Postseason contention. Once you get in the park, there are a number of ways to get more bang for your buck.
If you buy bargain tickets, particularly in the 500-level outfield sections, it is actually better to camp out at the many "standing room only" areas that offer outstanding views of the field level. Locals know to camp out behind sections 111-114 on the first base side and along the Shea bridge behind section 143. The view from the Coca-Cola Corner at the 300 level by first base is also great for the price of entry.
There are also some great ways to stretch your tickets: once you are in the 500-level seats, you can easily move forward and toward home plate without much fuss. Wait until the second or third inning and move forward. Mets fans also have a tendency to leave weekday games and Friday night games early, while the city is still full of life, so if seats are empty after the 7th inning stretch, go get them!
There are very few poor seats in the house, and none are obstructed. However, avoid sections 532-538, as these are situated behind the "other games' scores" board and so cannot view the main scoreboards. The sun is not a significant factor at Citi Field; in fact, seats along first base side are rewarded with stunning sunsets along third base side.
Citi Field sunsets are best when orange and blue - via Flickr user Kim Carpenter
The best value seats in all of Citi Field are in the Promenade Infield, sections 510-518. These seats behind home plate are high up, meaning lower costs, but their location gives great views of the strike zone.
Once you enter these sections, you can easily move closer to home plate and closer to the field; they are rarely sold out. These sections also allow for access to the conveniently located Promenade Club, which provides AC in the hot summer and heating in the cold postseason, as well as a full bar and some of the best food options at the park (see the hidden gem of Arancini Bros below).
Also, behind these sections is a merchandise store, multiple food and drink vendors, free swag tables, and copious bathrooms all facing a giant screen playing the game so you won't miss a moment of action while in line.
Where to Stay While Visiting Citi Field
My favorite way to travel to a baseball game is to stay as close to the stadium as possible and walk, or take Uber so I don't have to fool with parking in a strange place. With the ease of public transport to Citi Field, you can easily stay anywhere throughout NYC and get to your game easily without parking.
AirBnB is the best way to find a really cool house or apartment to rent so you can hang out with your friends/family before the game and get a more authentic local experience.
Not only is it cooler than a hotel, but you can save $35 on your first stay by using my referral link.
There are 2 types of rentals - those where you rent a private room and stay with a host and those where you rent out the whole place. I've done both, and you'll have some peace of mind about the people you rent from because of the review system they have for the hosts - so you have a high degree of confidence that you won't end up on the bad side of a future Dateline NBC episode.
Best of all, you can easily find places to stay that are within walking distance or public transport to Citi Field.
Obviously places come and go on the site, but I've used AirBnB a number of times for sports road trips and it's become my default option when I'm traveling. Click the button below to save $35 on your first trip and see what kind of cool places are currently available near the ballpark:
Free Stuff at Citi Field
1. Every single Friday home game during the regular season is a Free Shirt Friday! All in attendance receive a free Mets tshirt - some focusing on specific players, some advertising the team. Many are resold on Ebay as well, so combined with a cheap last minute ticket buy, Friday home games can be very affordable. If you miss a Friday, don't fret - tables are often set up near first base or on the promenade level featuring games or raffles for free previous Friday shirts!
2. Off the 300-level Right Field Deck is the Coca-Cola Corner, crowned by the massive light-up logo. Before the first pitch, hang out and play cornhole, dance to the DJ, or post pictures from the massive Coke chair. The view from the deck is outstanding and it's a great place to relax before the game.
3. Sunday afternoon home games are Family Games, with a number of activities available for kids. Outside the park, the giant Home Run Apple is surrounded by bouncy-houses, booths for face-painting, and musical performances. Inside the park beyond center field, kids can meet Mr. Met, take a toss at the dunk tank, or swing for the fences at the T-ball competition. After the game, kids under 13 can run the bases with Mr. and Mrs. Met.