When the Mets are struggling I still usually find a way to enjoy going to games. Whether it is the excitement of getting autographs and meeting my favorite players or just the chance to take a few good pictures during a baseball game, I find something to look forward to. This year has been different, though. I have only been to one game at Citi Field and the experience didn’t leave me wanting more.
The Mets are only one of the many teams with declining ticket sales and an empty stadium. But unlike many of the other teams, the Mets cannot use the product on the field to sell tickets. The Mets are bad and that isn’t going to change anytime this season. As an organization they have to find other ways to not only get people to the ballpark, but also get them to come back.
The one home game I went to to this season was a cold, rainy, windy night game. The Mets were blown out by the Braves and the stadium, surprise, was mostly empty. I had good seats, field level behind the Mets dugout. By the eighth inning even my section was mostly empty. As most fans do, I moved down a few rows to get a view of the game that I probably won’t ever again. Unfortunately, I only had the chance to see a few batters before an usher told me to go back to my ticketed seat.
I walked past three empty rows of seats before I settled on a fourth empty row still closer than my original seat. I had seen people on Twitter and around the Mets social media circle complain about ushers doing this but I did not think they would behave this way at the end of a game played on a 45-degree rainy, windy night. For the first time in my life as a fan, I felt unwelcome at my home stadium.
The Mets are working on getting people to the ballpark. They have tried to lower ticket prices and even though they are not low enough it is easy enough to get cheap tickets on StubHub or other sites. It has always seemed to be the attitude inside the ballpark that they struggle with.
My first experience with this was when I would go early to watch batting practice and get autographs. Section 110 was my favorite place to be, and the closest section open to all fans for BP. Once it was about 30 minutes before first pitch ushers would rush down and tell people to go to their ticketed seats. Even when I had tickets in 110 they would tell me to go to my seats. They would watch as every fan walked all the way up the stairs, back to the concourse and follow every fan that sat down somewhere in the section.
It always felt like the ushers were bothered by the existence of the few fans who bothered to show up.
Even across town at Yankee Stadium I felt more welcome and free to enjoy a game. I have stood at the front of my field level section through the national anthem without being told to go to my seats. By the fourth inning the usher at the top of my section no longer needs to inspect my ticket because they remember I just walked out a minute ago to get a hot dog. I can move three sections over in the fifth inning and have nobody come up to me to tell me to go back to my original seat.
The team called the “Evil Empire” should not be the one with the nicer ballpark experience. I should not keep hearing about Citi Field ushers forcing people out of empty seats. I should not hear about Mr. Met blowing fans off because the Mets haven’t figured out how to get more than one Mr. Met greeting fans at once.
The Mets should be doing whatever they can to keep fans in the seats. If they don’t change the attitude in the ballpark by the All Star Game there will be fans of other teams complaining too. Hundreds of out-of-town fans will be at Citi Field for the first time in July, and hundreds of fans will hopefully feel welcome at Citi Field. The Mets have enough reasons to be the laughingstock of baseball, their new stadium should not be one of them.
I love the Mets, but if they keep treating fans like second-class citizens, I can watch from my couch.