Few Options for Mets Players, Fans in Flushing

Few Options for Mets Players, Fans in Flushing

New York Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson says players - and fans - have few options when hitting Citi Field for a baseball game.  Photo courtesy New York Mets

New York Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson says players – and fans – have few options when hitting Citi Field for a baseball game. Photo courtesy New York Mets

Despite being the only major professional sports team to call Queens home, many of the New York Mets players said they do not spend much time in the borough.

Outfielder Curtis Granderson, who lives in Manhattan, said he has not done much in Queens besides go to the airport.

But he is not the only one. Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis said he doesn’t spend much time in the borough either, and many of the players live in Long Island or Manhattan.

Dillon Gee is another one of those players to live in Manhattan and said he rarely spends time in Queens. But for what it is worth, he did, however, say he heard good things about Bayside’s Bell Boulevard.

However, Granderson did say developing the area around Citi Field would be great for the fans.

From his experiences in Major League Baseball, Granderson said there is generally a correlation between attendance and attractions around the stadium that provide activities for fans before and after the game.

“A game is now a day event,” he said. “It’s about where are we going to eat before hand, and where are we going to go afterwards.”

He said stadiums such as Fenway Park in Boston and AT&T Park in San Francisco, which always draw large attendances, have a lot of things for fans to do surrounding the ballpark. Meanwhile, he said he noticed teams that struggle with attendance, such as the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays, do not have a lot of activity going on around their stadium.

“In Chicago [his hometown] there is a lot to do both before and after the game at Wrigley [Field], but at U.S. Cellular, there’s not,” Granderson said. “A lot of people think that goes into the attendance.”

The current plans to redevelop Willets Point came from the Queens Development Group, a partnership between Sterling Equities and The Related Companies, to construct the 1.4 million-square-foot Willets West mall in the Citi Field parking lot, which runs into Flushing Meadow Park.

It would bring more than 200 shops and restaurants, along with a movie theater, around the stadium.  A 5,000 square foot rooftop garden is included in the plan for the mall, developers said. There will also be apartment buildings, with affordable housing, retail and office space, and a 200-room hotel, according to the plan.

Gee said the pending development plans to revamp the entire surrounding properties near Citi Field would mean a lot for fans and the borough.

“It would be appealing to everyone ‘cause it would look a lot prettier and offer more amenities for people to use,” he said.

Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom echoed Gee’s sentiments, adding that it would attract more people – and even baseball players.

“It would be awesome, there isn’t a whole lot to do around here,” he said. “It’s nice to have something close to the stadium to go there before a game, especially for visiting players.”

By Michael Florio


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