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A look at Mets game life in Citi Pavilion at Citi Field

Fans hang out in the Citi Pavilion before

Fans hang out in the Citi Pavilion before a game between the Mets and the Nationals at Citi Field on Friday, July 13, 2018. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Krystal Baker already was having a good time at Citi Field, what with Noah Syndergaard on the mound, ideal weather, the company of a dozen friends, a beer in her hand and a pink sash across her David Wright T-shirt that read, “BRIDE.”

It was a combined bachelor / bachelorette party in advance of her Aug. 12 wedding to Mike Angora, and Baker, who lives in Glen Oaks, Queens, had only one remaining wish as she looked down at the bullpens in centerfield.

“I am really, really kind of hoping to get a ball or something,” she said. “That would be great.”

Ten minutes later, a friend pointed at her sash and told Nationals bullpen catcher Octavio Martinez about the big event. He tossed a ball up to her, and she caught it.

“I told you I was a baller,” said Baker, an athletic director at a Queens charter school.

So it went on July 13 at Citi Pavilion, a seating option new this season, if you define “seating” broadly.

The idea was to create a beer garden-style space that promotes milling about and socializing for medium-to-large groups, with 60 fixed seats and a total capacity of 92.

It is part of a trend in pro sports in general and baseball in particular in which teams are acceding to fans, especially young ones, who view traditional seating as restrictive — and the game itself as only part of a night out rather than its sole focus.

Before last season, the Yankees removed 2,000 seats — most from obstructed-view bleachers — and added new gathering areas for socializing and social media sharing. On Monday, they announced a new $49.99 “Yankees Ballpark Pass” that will offer admission to the Stadium and its social gathering areas for August home games.

“There are a lot of teams that are renovating areas to where it’s more of a patio concept where people can just congregate, mingle, have a great time and enjoy the game,” said Wade Graf, the Mets’ senior director of group sales.

Citi Pavilion happens to come with beer — unlimited amounts within the first two hours of the game or by the end of the seventh inning, whichever comes first. And as long as you are OK with the only two options available: Stella Artois or Bud Light.

Oh, and one other thing: You must behave. Graf said that so far fans have acted responsibly, and bartenders and alcohol compliance monitors have made sure they do.

“If we start seeing some tendencies for people to potentially overconsume, we cut it off for those guests,” Graf said. “We haven’t had any issues.”

Water and soft drinks are included, as are snacks such as peanuts, chips and Cracker Jack. But Graf acknowledged that the beer is “a huge selling point.”

Maurice Reilly of Floral Park, who organized a group of 25 from Flushing Bank, agreed. “That was a huge sell for me,” he said. “I told people, no matter how bad the team gets, we get unlimited beer.”

Andrew Winkler, who is from Port Jefferson and also organized a group of 25, said the point was not necessarily to drink more but rather to indulge without having to spend the night making cost calculations for every purchase.

In recent years Winkler and his friends had opted for the M&M’s Sweet Seats beyond the leftfield fence, another all-inclusive area, one that includes hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken tenders in addition to beer. Winkler decided to try something different, and less expensive, this season.

Tickets for the Pavilion start at $120 and rise depending on the night and opponent. Reilly said his group paid $140 per person for the game against the Nationals.

Graf said as the season has progressed, more than 90 percent of tickets to the section have been selling.

“I like being able to move around and mingle with co-workers,” Reilly said. “If you’re sitting in seats you’re stuck in a seat . . . If they put a better product on the field, it would be even better, but I think the party idea is a great one.”

Winkler, who wore a replica R.A. Dickey jersey to the game, was intrigued by being in prime territory for batting practice home runs, and for proximity to the bullpens.

“We watched Noah Syndergaard warm up for his first start since [leaving] the disabled list, and literally got to talk to him, so it was pretty tremendous,” he said.

Told about the ball Martinez threw to Baker before the game, Winkler said, “The Washington Nationals bullpen [catcher] must be a nice guy, because he threw me a ball as well. Yes, he did.”

Did Winkler catch it? “I caught it,” he said, smiling, “and it’s in my bag right now.”


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