Mets relief pitcher Michael Tonkin stands on the mound as...

Mets relief pitcher Michael Tonkin stands on the mound as Detroit Tigers’ Carson Kelly rounds the bases on his three-run home run during the tenth inning of an MLB baseball game at Citi Field on Monday, April 1, 2024. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Citi Field is a great place to see a baseball game. The food is top-notch, if a tad pricey, and owner Steve Cohen is constantly introducing innovations to improve the fan experience.

But there’s only so much the non-baseball, non-winning components of the Citi Field experience can do to put fannies in the seats (Tuesday night’s game was postponed until Thursday at 1:10 p.m.).

The Mets, with a team that was not built to compete for a World Series this season in what Cohen calls a “transition year,” found that out the hard way on Monday night.

The Mets lost to the Detroit Tigers, 5-0 in 10 innings, to fall to 0-4.

But the biggest stat to come out of Monday’s game was the announced paid attendance: 16,853.

That’s by far the lowest non-COVID crowd at Citi Field since the building opened in 2009.

The top conclusion to draw is that Mets fans might be deciding to cast their vote for the perceived quality of this year’s roster by keeping their wallets closed, and staying home.


There are many other legitimate factors to explain why fans would skip an April 1 Monday night game against a non-marquee foe in questionable weather.

But the Mets have played early- and late-season weeknight games against non-marquee foes in questionable weather at Citi Field every year in which fans were allowed in.

And they’ve never had an attendance this low.

Only once before did the Mets sell fewer than 20,000 tickets for a non-COVID affected home game at Citi Field. That was the 19,617 that was announced for a rain-shortened six-inning victory over the Phillies on Sept. 6, 2017. The Mets went 70-92 in 2017.

In 2023 — a season that began with World Series hopes and ended with a 75-87 record — the Mets drew 2,573,555, an average of 31,772.

Major League Baseball’s attendance numbers are for tickets sold, not the turnstile count.

Going into this year’s season opener on Friday, Cohen talked about the plan he began to enact at last year’s trade deadline. The Mets dealt away stars such as Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer and paid down their contracts to acquire premium young talent.

Going for the World Series in 2023 was replaced by trying to compete for a playoff spot in 2024 and then looking for the young players to blossom in 2025 and beyond so the Mets can build what Cohen calls “sustainable” success.

Before the season opener, Cohen was asked if he thinks Mets fans “get” what the organization is doing.

“They’ll get it when they get it,” Cohen said. “I wouldn't sell short our fans. They’re pretty sophisticated. Generally, I think people understand what we're doing and are supportive of it.”

Asked what Mets fans say to him, Cohen said: “They’re still pretty supportive. I'm waiting for that to run out. We’ve got to win at some point. I think the goal is to make the playoffs and be there year in and year out. I think we're going to over time accomplish that. I think what we're building here is something that's sustainable.”

Even though the Mets didn’t go hog-wild in free agency like they did in previous offseasons, they still have the game’s highest payroll at $341 million. That does not include the more than $68 million they are paying Verlander, Scherzer, James McCann and others to play for other teams.

But the March 23 signing of free agent designated hitter J.D. Martinez to a heavily-deferred, one-year, $12-million contract seemed to give some Mets fans hope going into Opening Day, which was a sellout (42,137).

Going into Tuesday, the Mets had sold 111,508 tickets for their first four home games, the first three against Milwaukee and Monday’s against Detroit.

That’s an average of 27,877 that includes Opening Day, a Saturday crowd of 30,296, a surprisingly small Easter Sunday / nice weather turnout of 22,222, and Monday’s intimate gathering.

On Monday, the Mets gave out a team-logoed orange and blue rugby shirt. Many fans wore it to help ward off their chilly temperatures, which opened at 52 degrees for the 7:10 p.m. first pitch.

The game was scoreless until the 10th inning, when the Tigers scored five runs, the last three coming on a home run by Carson Kelly.

Fans headed for the exits as soon as Kelly’s ball cleared the leftfield wall.

Will they be back?

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