Venue Road-Test: Citi Field
Diehard Fan Kevin Devine Analyzes the Modern, but Slightly Soulless, New Mets Stadium
It’s a conundrum he understands well, as the New York-bred, Brooklyn-dwelling songwriter occupies the role of divided consumer in his relationship with the Mets, his beloved hometown baseball team. To wit: he used to play in an indie band called Miracle of 86, referring to the oft-referenced Mets victory of that year. “In some ways, outside of family, the longest relationship of my life is with the Mets,” he says. “It kind of superseded girlfriends or music.” And this week, the organization unveiled a curiously timed celebration of themselves (and in some people’s view, including Devine’s, reckless commerce) known as Citi Field, an exorbitantly-outfitted new ballpark replacing the old Shea Stadium, and kicking off this week with the season opener.
The 29-year-old neo-folkie was propelled to national attention after becoming a high-profile victim of Capitol Records’ recent merger with Virgin— but since then he has re-established a huge fan base by touring with Brand New, and posting demos on his MySpace profile (with over 1.6 million views at last count), all leading up to the aforementioned Brother’s Blood.
On a recent windswept Saturday afternoon, Devine absorbed the sights, smells and $17 lobster rolls at Citi Field, and was left with the distinct feeling that “these stadiums are not being built for the casual fan. They’re being built to streamline a profit margin.” And while he ultimately takes the perspective of “more power to you” at this capitalist drive, he’ll likely opt for the T-shirt with a select player’s name on it over luxury-box seats.
Here, he gives Psychopedia his eloquently jaded insight on the rest of Citi Field’s fancy accoutrements, which includes a Blue Smoke BBQ, Shake Shack (an annex of a popular Manhattan burger stand), Caesars Club, sushi and Mexican outposts, and even feminine baseball attire endorsed by a certain former sitcom starlet. In his own words, topic by topic:
GREETINGS FROM NEW JERSEYS
“[J.J.] Putz is something special and opens you up to a whole world of ridicule… But I guess [my jersey] would have to be K-Rod [Francisco Rodriguez]. I could say it’s some weird, sick nickname, if I had to reclaim the K-Rod nickname for myself. That’s the easy answer, but he’s pretty impressive, so if I had to I would probably get a K-Rod jersey.”
“I guess Alyssa Milano is a big Mets fan -- she has opened on the premises a clothing boutique for the female fan. I thought that was strange. I didn’t really fish around too much, just because it looked like workout clothes for girls with the Alyssa Milano stamp of approval, which is arbitrary and weird.”
“It’s like every stadium in L.A. Having a smokehouse and a Shake Shack… [the Mets are] always trying to compete with the specter of the Yankees. Everyone I know always mocked Shea. I always thought, ‘It’s concrete garbage, but it was our concrete garbage’… I’m not going to a game to sit in a smokehouse. If I want to go and have a nice meal, I’ll go have a meal and catch game on TV. If I’m going to a game I’m going to a game… Philosophically, it harkens back to the idea of why the fuck do they even have to build these stadiums.”
“The thing that struck me was… certain tickets grant you access to the Caesars Lounge, which is kind of like a mall food court with weird overhead lighting and clusters of couches and private bathrooms. And this is during a game. There’s no television in the goddamn room with the game on. People were watching a boxing match. And I’m like, ‘What does this say about people that we need a distraction from the distraction?’” You’re not at your third cousin’s bar mitzvah and you don’t want to be there so you sneak up to the bar. You’re at a fucking baseball game.”
“I didn’t go [to Citi Field] and break out in hives. It’s a nice-looking stadium. It’s got these funky corners in rightfield that make it interesting. I think it’s going to cause [Gary] Sheffield and [Ryan] Church a lot of hell figuring out how to play out there, but it definitely felt weird. Not that Shea’s history was storied… But it doesn’t feel like anything now. It felt like Any Stadium, U.S.A.”