Mets slice payroll, Citi Field dimensions

By Ronald Blum

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 3 2012 3:10 p.m. MDT

Citi Field is shown Tuesday, April 3, 2012, in New York. In addition to slicing payroll, the New York Mets cut dimensions at Citi Field and showed off their new blue-and-orange fences. The Mets erected a new fence in front of the old wall at the 4-year-old ballpark, lowering the height needed for a home run to 8 feet from as much as 16 and cutting the distance from home plate by up to 12 feet.

Peter Morgan, Associated Press

NEW YORK — In addition to slicing payroll this winter, the New York Mets cut dimensions at Citi Field.

They showed off their new blue-and-orange fences Tuesday.

The Mets erected a new fence in front of the old wall at the 4-year-old ballpark, lowering the height needed for a home run to 8 feet from as much as 16 and cutting the distance from home plate by up to 12 feet.

A new section of 102 seats called the Party City Deck has been installed behind the new left-field fence, selling for $100-$200 a ticket depending on the opponent, with food and beer included. They will sell individually during the first homestand for games after Thursday's opener against Atlanta, then for groups.

"The intention coming in was to build a ballpark that was pitcher-friendly, and we accomplished that. But maybe it was too friendly," Mets executive vice president David Howard said. "Scoring creates excitement."

Citi Field was last in the major leagues in home runs during its first three seasons with an average of 1.43 per game, according to STATS LLC.

New York's left-handed batters still haven't hit an opposite-field home run over the fence at Citi Field, which was dubbed the Great Wall of Flushing. Opponents have done it eight times.

Coming off three straight losing seasons, the Mets said a few thousand tickets remain available for opening day. Home attendance dropped 7 percent last year to 2.35 million, their lowest since 2004, and the only sellouts were opening day and the three-game series against the Yankees in July.

And attendance could fall again in their 50th anniversary season.

"We're not quite where we were at this point last year," Howard said.

As part of the renovations, the fence colors were restored to the royal blue with an orange line, the style that was used during most of the team's time at Shea Stadium. The new section in left was patterned after the Green Monster seats at Boston's Fenway Park.

New York also added 45 seats to the Modell's Clubhouse back of the right-field fence, raising capacity to 41,922.

After the team's ownership settled a lawsuit by the trustee seeking money for the victims of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme for up to $162 million, the Mets hope the uncertainty over the team's future will start to lift. Payroll was cut by nearly $50 million.

Now the Mets are discussing a long-term contract with pitcher Jonathon Niese.

"The certainty of getting that resolved and the finality of it is a plus in every respect," Howard said. "It allows all of us to focus all of our attention on the business and getting the team back to where we should be, and l'm confident we're going to get there."

NOTES: In the first season of dynamic pricing, Howard said cost for some opening-day tickets has been cut from $45 to $40. Ticket prices generally have fluctuated by up to 10 percent. The Mets have cut prices in three straight seasons.

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