That’s what some local Little League parents and officials are calling an unfortunate situation that is brewing with the Mets as the home team is set to open its brand new ballpark, Citi Field.
For the past four years, Little Leagues throughout the borough have participated in a special day at Shea Stadium where they purchased 1,200 discounted tickets from the Mets and got to lead a parade on the warning track of the field prior to the game.
This year, however, the Mets have told league officials including Bayside Little League President Bob Reid, that the teams may only be able purchase 500 (or less) tickets at full price, and they can’t guarantee they will be able to have the parade on the field prior to the game.
“The Mets organization is telling me that unfortunately we have 15,000 fewer seats, and we can’t do what we have done in the past,” said Reid, who is a longtime Mets fan that recently had the opportunity to tour Citi Field and thinks it’s great. “I think they are just forgetting the little guy.”
This is the first year the Mets will play in Citi Field, which will have a capacity of approximately 42,000 compared to Shea Stadium’s roughly 57,000, so it is more challenging to accommodate large groups for different games. In addition, the club is still working on logistics of the new stadium including field access points, which would factor into the parade that the Little League has each year.
“We are in discussion with the parties involved, and we haven’t finalized anything,” said a Mets spokesperson.
Although the parade before the game has only taken place during the last four years, Reid said the Little League has been purchasing discount tickets from the Mets for the past 10 years – and the kids used to participate in the dash around the bases after the game. In addition to the Bayside Little League, Reid said players and parents from leagues in Glen Oaks, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck-Douglaston and College Point also participated in the day, and they looked forward to it each year.
“The kids are excited because they get to be in their uniforms during the day, and they actually see some of the ball players up close,” said Adrian Elorza, who coaches his six-year-old daughter in a Bayside Peewee League and has participated in the day at Shea Stadium. “It’s like a ‘Field of Dreams’ kind of thing; they’re on a real baseball field.”
Reid informed some parents last week that they likely won’t get the volume of tickets or the price reduction they have in the past, and many were upset.
“It makes me feel like the Mets are only interested in corporate America not the community baseball league that is in their neighborhood that has supported the Mets forever,” Elorza said.
Reid said he was more disappointed for the kids because it’s something they look forward to every year.
“It hurts; it’s disturbing because they are almost like locking out the young kids, the youth of the community, the youth of the neighborhoods,” Reid said.