Mets expect Opening Day sellout again

A general view of Citi Field before the A general view of Citi Field before the game between the Mets and the Miami Marlins on April 7, 2013 at Citi Field. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Al Bello

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The Mets expect to make it 16 straight sold-out home openers when they start the 2014 season against the Nationals on Monday at Citi Field.

"The game will definitely sell out," said Lou DePaoli, the Mets' executive vice president and chief revenue officer. "We are pacing significantly ahead of last year. As of right now, there are roughly less than a thousand seats available. We're going to be opening standing room only.

"Overall, our Opening Day sales are way ahead of what they were last year. You've got to think the fact that maybe people have been cooped up a little bit and want to get out, they're excited to get back outside."

The forecast for the opener, as of Thursday afternoon, calls for temperatures in the high 50s with a 30-percent chance of rain.

"I'd prefer 70, but 50 and sunny after the winter we've had" will suffice, DePaoli said.

The Mets announced a sellout of 41,053 last season when the Yankees opened at home on the same day. Selling out on Opening Day does not portend record crowds all season.

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"I guess when it's sold out, it's expected," DePaoli said. "If you did fall a few thousand short, that does send a signal to everybody else like, 'Uh-oh, this could be a tough year.' "

The Mets went 74-88 last season and drew 2,135,657 fans to Citi Field. That's the team's lowest home attendance since 1997 at Shea Stadium, when they drew 1,766,174, according to Baseball-Reference.com. The team's average attendance last season was 26,366, 13th out of 15 in the National League. The 1997 season averaged 21,805 fans for a team that went 88-74.

"We're expecting attendance to go up slightly versus last year," DePaoli said. "We are on pace to get to those numbers."

DePaoli joined the Mets last July after working five years for the Pirates. He said marketing efforts will be aimed at weekend games.

"We have survey results from 10,000 fans," he said. "People told us they want to come on weekends, they like to come on Saturdays. They also like more Saturday nights, and when they come, they'd like to come with their families.

"Every Sunday will be family-based. When you come off the 7 train, we're going to have that whole platform area activated with bounce houses for kids, face painters, balloon artists, some of our sponsors out there with products, and then make the giveaways more youth-orientated.

"Every Sunday the kids get to run the bases," DePaoli added. "All our promotions this year will be on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If that's when the fans tell us that, when they want to come, why wouldn't we double down and say we're going to give you what you want?"

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