The last piece of Shea Stadium was brought down on Wednesday morning in Flushing, Queens.
By JOSHUA ROBINSON, February 18, 2009
Shea Stadium, the site of the Mets’ two World Series victories, their many seasons of futility and a few historic concerts, met the fate of Ebbets Field and the Polo Grounds on Wednesday morning. At 11:21 a.m., a demolition crew pulled down the final section, and what remained of the old blue stadium was gone in a cloud of dust: the final collapse at Shea. It was 45.
Besides several months of work by a wrecking crew, what killed the stadium was the need for a sprawling parking lot for the Mets’ gleaming new home, Citi Field. Shea is survived by a team that would prefer to forget its most recent memories of the place, two seasons that ended in mind-boggling failure.
From about 9 a.m. on, about three dozen fans gathered around the fences of the demolition site to pay their respects despite a bitter February chill and funereal gray skies over Queens. All they had to look at was the column of ramps that used to lead to the press gate towering over the piles of rubble.
Wearing Mets gear, many chronicled the proceedings on video cameras and cellphones. They cheered when the ramps suddenly pitched forward, as if bowing to Citi Field, and started a brief chant of “Let’s go, Mets” as the dust settled.
But a few treated it with far more solemnity. Tears were shed, and one fan even crossed himself as he walked away from the fence and into the arms of a loved one.
Word of Shea’s agony had spread over a few Mets blogs and even on Shea Stadium’s Wikipedia page. Peter McDonnell brought his 7-year-old son, Jason, and stood for about two hours to watch the 30 seconds it took for the last section to crumble. That moment was originally scheduled for Tuesday. The McDonnells, who attended the final game at Shea and have tickets for opening day at Citi Field, had been there for three hours then.
“It’s one last chance to say goodbye and let my son witness history,” McDonnell said. “Maybe someday he’ll bring his son to watch Citi Field being torn down.”
Joe DeAngelis, a construction worker who has been a Mets fan for 40 years, fought back tears as he stared at the pile of rubble. Even though he believed the stadium’s last moments were fairly anticlimactic — there were no explosions or wrecking balls as in some other stadium demolitions — they felt just as painful.
“It’s like watching a slow death,” DeAngelis said. “All we can do now is reminisce.”
Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company