The Mets’ “New for 2016 at Citi Field” media event on Wednesday included new signage, new promotions and new food offerings. But the most fundamental change was the most visible of all — a lush green carpet that has taken root since autumn.
Bill Deacon, the stadium’s director of field operations, said that in the offseason the playing surface was resodded for the first time in the stadium’s seven-year history.
So when the Mets return home April 8 they will not quite be playing on the same field on which they lost Game 5 of the World Series to the Royals last November.
“It’s just one of those things that over time you need to do to keep your drainage and keep the field safe and playable, which is our No. 1 concern,” said Deacon, who added the mild winter has things in “great shape” and ahead of schedule.
Deacon said seven years is fairly typical for a field’s life span in this part of the country. He said last season there were no reported problems with it, but that it “was just time” for new turf. (The infield dirt remains original.)
The most widely discussed offseason change is the Coca-Cola sign that towers over the upper deck in rightfield, formerly known as the Pepsi Porch. Now it is the Coca-Cola Corner.
The 26-foot-by-84-foot, full-color LED sign is one of the largest of its kind in pro sports and features video that includes simulated bubbles and bottle caps, and that will have displays tied to what is going on in the game.
Perhaps even more noticeable than that is a bright yellow-and-white Nikon ad that looms over centerfield from below the main video board, a location previously dedicated to Budweiser. Officials say the sign is elevated enough not to be a distraction to batters.
Another sponsor, Ford, will debut a promotion in which New York-themed characters — FDNY Frankie, NYPD Petey, Louie the Limo and Tommy the Taxi — race from one end of the outfield warning track to the other.
The Mets also unveiled new concession items for 2016, including a partnership with celebrity chef David Chang, founder of Momofuku. Existing food partners will unveil a variety of new items.
“We do things no other ballparks do,” senior executive chef Patrick Schaeffer said. “We take food to a whole new level, and our focus is to enhance the Mets fan’s experience at Citi Field.”
Schaeffer said keeping the menu fresh is “how we challenge ourselves. We have to come up with something new and better than what we did the last year.”
Among the promotional events this season is a tribute to the 1986 Mets the weekend of May 27-29. On May 29, the first 15,000 fans to arrive will get a replica 1986 World Series ring.