By JAMES FANELLI, September 6, 2009
Meet the mess.
The Mets’ new $850 million stadium is breaking down at about the same rate as its beleaguered lineup, the Post has learned.
Less than a season old, Citi Field has been plagued by water damage to several luxury suites — including Jerry Seinfeld’s — as well as mold, falling signs and concrete, flooding in outfield seats, faulty electrical wiring and shoddy tile work, sources said.
“Yankees fans must have built the place,” an insider scoffed.
“Sh- – -y Field — that’s what we call it.”
Perhaps the biggest bungle is a water leak that sprang in early August, the source said, creating mold in Seinfeld’s lavish suite and three others nearby.
The posh boxes rent for $250,000 to $500,000 a year.
The problem was so bad that repairmen were forced to tear down walls in the suites on Aug. 9 to search for the source of the leak while the Mets were on a seven-game road trip, a source said.
“I think Jerry’s a Yankees fan now,” a neighboring suite-holder joked of Seinfeld, who was not available for comment.
Sources said other problems have turned Mets maintenance crews into the team’s real five-tool stars. Among the problems:
* A nonworking elevator last week that forced Mets owner Fred Wilpon to climb four flights to his office.
* An outfield section known as “Mo’s Zone” flooding in a rainstorm three months ago because drains were clogged. The backup was caused by 20 feet of pipe collapsing in the bullpen.
* A 4-by-6-foot illuminated sign falling in the field-level promenade during an off day.
* Electricity in the kitchen above the ticket booths near the rotunda shorting out. One outage caused the refrigerators to fail and water to leak into the ticket booths.
* A piece of concrete breaking off; it’s now sitting in a field crew’s office.
* Air conditioning and heating in the maintenance crew’s locker room that hasn’t worked since Day 1.
* Improperly installed electrical outlets. There is only one socket in the team’s laundry room, so a power strip is needed to plug in all the washing machines.
* A black granite capstone on the stadium’s ground-level façade falling off. Yesterday, Mets workers were spotted fixing the broken tile.
* Soaked seats in another luxury suite caused by a leaky ceiling during a rainy Mets-Yankees game. Crews carrying buckets, mops and towels paraded into the suite all night to stem the tide.
Even before the 42,500-seat ballfield opened in April, there were signs of trouble. In January The Post spotted rust on a beam running down the wall of the front entrance.
Dave Howard, the Mets’ executive vice president of business operations, acknowledged some of the problems, but called them minor and not unexpected.
“Any suggestion that Citi Field is less than an elite, world-class entertainment facility is flat-out inaccurate and unfounded,” he said.
“When you open a building with 1.2 million square feet, you’re going to have issues like this,” he added. “Whether it’s a leak or a circuit tripping, you have a punch list of items. There were thousands on the list, mostly minor things.
“That is a routine matter in a major building . . . Nothing on that list had any effect on the enjoyment of the fans and their experience.”
A spokeswoman for Xerox, which rents the suite adjacent to Seinfeld’s, said, “We’ve had absolutely no problems with our suite this season.”
Howard confirmed luxury-suite leaks but said the walls were mold-resistant. He also said Wilpon’s elevator had not failed but was momentarily unusable while technicians tested its backup generator. He denied that the air conditioning in the maintenance crew’s locker room was on the fritz.
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester), who criticized the city Industrial Development Agency over its deal to give the Mets and Yankees tax-free bonds to build new stadiums, said there should be an assessment of the stadium’s condition now that the inaugural season is drawing to a close.
“Taxpayer money is going to build the stadiums for these wealthy private entities, and it’s not clear that anyone is checking on anything,” Brodsky said. “No one knows who’s accountable.”
The city and state issued $697 million in tax-free bonds to finance the construction of the throwback-style ballpark resembling Ebbets Field. Under the deal, the Mets pay off the bonds, but save on interest and taxes.
Contractor Hunt-Bovis built Citi Field over two years. Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Bovis overbilled for work performed at the stadium.
Additional reporting by Kathianne Boniello
JERRY-BUILT: City Field opened amid high expectations, but The Post discovered countless repair problems that hit premium-paying superfans like Jerry Seinfeld (above) as well as bleacher creatures.
Updated: September 3, 2009, 7:21 PM ET
Report: Dimensions same for 2010
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Sluggers hoping that the dimensions at cavernous Citi Field will be more home run friendly in 2010 reportedly are going to be disappointed.
The New York Daily News, citing an unnamed source, reported Thursday that New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel recommended no changes be made to Citi Field’s dimensions for next season, and the team’s owners, the Wilpon family, will abide by that request.
Greg Rybarczyk/Hit TrackerCiti Field’s fences are deeper and taller than they were at Shea Stadium, except in right field.
According to the hittrackeronline.com Web site, Citi Field averages 1.67 home runs per game, putting it 11th out of the 16 National League stadiums. Shea Stadium averaged 2.15 home runs per game in 2008.
The Mets, although depleted by injury, are last in the majors with a paltry 77 home runs. Third baseman David Wright, one of the few Mets players who has stayed relatively healthy this season, has just eight home runs (five at home). He averaged 29 per season from 2005 to 2008.
“I would say it’s probably built the opposite than for me,” Wright said, according to the Daily News. “I think one of my strengths is driving the ball to right field. I sometimes think I have to hit it twice to get it out there. It is what it is. It’s not something I’m going to complain about or anybody else should complain about. It’s the park and we have to adapt.”
While Wright’s old home — Shea Stadium — was 378 feet in right center, Citi Field ranges from 378 to 415 feet in that area.
Greg Rybarczyk, who runs the hittracker Web site, told the Daily News that Citi Field has deprived Wright of eight possible home runs.
Left center ranges from 364 to 384 feet, but also features a high wall that is 15 feet, 8½ inches tall.
“I don’t even think they have to move the dimensions in,” Mets right fielder Jeff Francoeur said, according to the Daily News. “In left field, it would be nice just to put a regular wall.”
Francoeur said that Citi Field’s deep dimensions also might be sapping the team’s power on the road.
“Now you go on the road and you feel like, ‘Shoot, I’ve got to get some home runs on the road,’” he said, according to the Daily News. “I wish we would have changed it, to be honest with you. I’m not saying we need to make it a hitters’ park.”
Manuel said that the Mets needed to see how Citi Field would play in its first season, and now they need to build a team whose style of play will fit their home park.
“We didn’t know how the park would play,” Manuel said, according to the Daily News. “It might look big but still could have possibly played small. Now that you see, you have to make a decision which way you’re going. Are you going to try to go power, and not defense and speed and pitching?”
Mets Reward Streaker: Ban Him From Citi Field
Owes $3,000 in fines and gets banned from the ballpark
By JENNIFER MILLMAN, Sep 10, 2009
The man who made history by being the first to streak across Citi Field clad only in a striped animal thong has pleaded guilty to disrupting the Mets game against the Atlanta Braves back in May. And the Mets rewarded him — sort of.
In an incident that was caught on tape and spread virally online, Craig Coakley took off his clothes and jumped onto the field naked except for the stuffed monkey wrapped around his waist. He took off from the first base side of the field and slid into second base before trying to make his escape through center field. He wasn’t quite that lucky, however, as he stumbled and was dragged off by security.
Coakley today plead guilty to interfering with a professional sporting event — a misdemeanor charge that cost him a $1,000 fine and $2,000 in civil penalties (payable to the New York Mets). He’s also got to complete 20 days of community service and stay away from Citi Field for a year — a move that may encourage more beleagured Mets fans to drop trou and run the bases.
In addition to the year-long ban, the Mets have issued a trespass notice to Coakley, which bars him from entering any of their playing venues indefinitely. Perhaps a better punishment would be to force him to attend all of the Mets remaining games.
At the time of his arrest, Coakley told police that he “didn’t think I was gonna get in so much trouble. It was a bet. My boss said he would pay me a week’s worth of salary if I did it and my lawyer told me it’s only a misdemeanor.”
Sure, he’ll go down in history, but was it worth it?
“The defendant’s antics have resulted in a criminal record, the paying of thousands of dollars in fines and civil penalties, and – perhaps the worse punishment for any true Mets fan – precludes him from ever again visiting Citi Field or any of the New York Mets other venues – such as KeySpan Park in Brooklyn or Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, Florida,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. “The Queens District Attorney’s Office and the New York Mets have zero tolerance for those who interfere with the play of America’s pastime.”