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Citi Field: The Empty House
- Updated: June 13, 2013
If you head down to Citi Field to catch a Mets game, many unordinary sights will meet your eyes. You will see a sprawling diamond of freshly paved dirt and newly cut grass.
You will see hundreds of food stands and many strangers offering you a free Mets jacket on the one condition that you pay them. You will see a man with a cowbell, a man covered in pins, and maybe even the mustachioed man who likes to run around dishing out high-fives in section 107.
You will probably see a number on the scoreboard that will make you groan and wonder if the team will ever turn it around.
And because of this, you will see empty seats. A lot of empty seats.
Citi Field is a ghost town.
Attendance has dwindled consistently every year since the park opened in 2009. You may remember the first regular season game played at Citi against the San Diego Padres.
Jody Gerut led off with a home run against Mike Pelfrey, and the Mets eventually lost on a Pedro Feliciano balk, kicking the tires on a season that would see our Mets struggle to a disastrous season after being picked by Sports Illustrated to win the World Series.
Did fans put up with a terrible team so that they could check out the new park? Yes, for one year. The Mets drew over 38 thousand fans a game in 2009, after which attendance declined sharply; 35,000 is a pretty astonishing turnout at the park these days.
The Mets have a below-average daily draw in the largest sports market on Earth. Embarrassing. Incomprehensible. Depressing. You pick the word for it. It is a reality, and no matter what Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson says, his hands are tied because of the empty seats on game day.
The Mets are broke, and cannot add any talent to the roster from the outside without opening up their pocketbooks. Increased spending is something the Wilpons seem they cannot do until attendance improves. And it becomes increasingly apparent with each passing day that attendance will not improve until the payroll and the quality of the team goes up.
As such, owners and the fans are at an unspoken standstill, one that has sunk the Mets’ ship since they moved to Citi Field and will cause this year to be a failure as well unless Zack Wheeler turns out to be a self-cloning robot who can pitch perfect games every day of the week.
If the Mets start winning, fans will go to the games. Free-Agent-to-be Robinson Cano puts butts in the seats. Shake Shack does not, and neither does Collin Cowgill. The Wilpons need to spend money on the team, and Sandy needs to add to the roster by being active on the trade market.
Bringing in the likes of Cano or Carlos Gonzalez will bring fans to the park. And when that happens, and the team starts winning, the Wilpons will find their pockets as full as their stadium. If the owners are waiting for fans to show up before they start taking steps to improve the team, the team will lose and the seats will remain empty.
Some recent reports have suggested that the Mets are ready to start adding major talent to supplement the talent coming up through the farm system.
Other reports have suggested that the financial woes of the Wilpons are getting worse, not better. It is tough to see where the Mets are headed, but one thing that has become clear is that if the Wilpons want fans to show up, they will have to give us a reason to do so.