Tag Archives: Citi Field

Bicyclist struck and killed near Citi Field

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A bicyclist was fatally hit by a minivan near Citi Field Tuesday afternoon, cops said.

The victim, who has yet to be identified by police, was riding his bike westbound on Roosevelt Avenue around 126th Street at about 12:50 p.m. when he was struck by a Mercury Villager that was driving in the same direction, officials said.

The bicyclist was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said the driver remained at the scene of the accident and the NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad is investigating.


Forest Hills restaurant makes the pitch for Citi Field

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A Queens restaurant is vying against two other New York City businesses for a chance to serve food in Citi Field this baseball season.

Corfu Grill has been serving Greek flavor for 10 years in Forest Hills and the owner, Georgios Aspiotis, hopes to bring the food of his hometown of Corfu to Mets fans. Citi Field announced the competition on May 23 and anyone can vote for one of the three restaurants. The competition ends on June 6 and the winner will be announced before the start of the July 5 home game against the Texas Rangers.

“I’m a winner,” Aspiotis said while drinking iced Greek coffee­—a stronger version of regular coffee with the coffee grounds in the cup­—in his Austin Street restaurant. “People will be coming to the games just to eat my food.”

Having created the menu himself, Aspiotis is proud of all of the dishes but for a baseball game, the gyros and chicken kebabs are his dingers.

“Most people eat hot dogs at a game,” he said. “I’m going to give them something better and it’s still portable. Gyros are like hot dogs. You have the bread on the outside and the meat inside.

But there’s also so much more inside our gyros that people will love.”

Sports fans are not the only people to declare the food a hit.

“I’m a big fan,” said Millie Lloyd, a Forest Hills resident. “I love the food.”

Lloyd spoke as she ate a chicken kebab plate in Corfu Grill. The meal, Aspiotis said, is one of the best sellers and if he wins, he plans to put them on a skewer at a stadium concession stand that will be provided for him free of charge for the duration of this season.

Aspitotis’ confidence isn’t misplaced. He is currently leading the competition with 44 percent of the votes. Lady M Confections, a pastry shop in Manhattan, has 30 percent, and Ceetay, a sushi restaurant in the Bronx, wis in last place with 24 percent.

To vote, click here.



Mets roll back ticket prices for 50th anniversary of Shea Stadium

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy the New York Mets

Follow me @liamlaguerre


Mets fans will have something to cheer about, at least when it comes to the cost of tickets.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the team’s former home, Shea Stadium, the New York Mets announced Sunday that it will roll back ticket prices for games this coming weekend.

A limited number of tickets will be available for $3.50, when the Mets host the Atlanta Braves from April 18 to 20. Shea officially opened on April 17, 1964, when the Mets hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The team will also offer some baseline box seats for $19.64, with an eight ticket per person limit. Tickets must be purchased in advance over the phone or online at Mets.com/1964.

The offer will not be available at team stores, ticket windows or on game day.



Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Thursday: Sunny to partly cloudy. High around 60. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph. Thursday night: Rain showers early becoming a steady light rain overnight. Low 41. Winds E at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Cirque du Soleil Armaluna

Cirque Du Soleil is back at Citi Field. Emerge yourself in Amaluna, a mysterious island governed by goddesses, guided by the moons cycles, and enchanted by an emotional story of love put to the test.  Tickets go from $45- $145. Runs until May 18 at various times. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Plane diverts to land at JFK, skids onto grass

Nobody was injured after a Delta flight from Atlanta to LaGuardia was diverted to JFK when the pilot reported a possible hydraulics problem. Read more: ABC New York

Chinatown skin infection outbreak spreads in NYC, number of cases doubles

The number of New Yorkers suspected of having a rare skin infection that comes from handling raw seafood, causing skin lesions, pain and swelling to the hands and arms and even difficulty moving fingers, has more than doubled, officials said Wednesday. Read more: NBC New York

Overdose doctor valued money over life: prosecutors

A Queens doctor on trial for manslaughter in the overdose deaths of two patients he prescribed painkillers to, valued money over human life, prosecutors charged Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court. Read more: New York Post

Privacy concerns nix New York student-data plan

New York has reversed course to use an Atlanta-based company to store student data for parents and officials to use to track student progress, after the plan triggered privacy concerns and a legal challenge. Read more: NBC New York

Supreme Court strikes down overall limits on campaign contributions

In a decision that could transform American politics, the Supreme Court overturned the decades-old limits on the total amount of money individuals can contribute in every federal election. Read more: New York Daily News

Mayor de Blasio to throw first pitch at Mets’ Opening Day

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre


Baseball season is almost here, and the new mayor wants to get in on the action.

Mayor Bill de Blasio will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Mets’ Opening Day at Citi Field on Monday.

The mayor will be accompanied by children from the East Harlem Tutorial Program, who were affected by the recent building collapse.


Mets to wear patch honoring late broadcaster Kiner during 2014 season

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@Mets

The Mets will pay tribute to their longtime broadcaster Ralph Kiner, who recently passed away, by wearing a commemorative uniform patch on the right sleeve of their jerseys throughout the 2014 season, the team announced Sunday.

Kiner will also be honored during a pregame ceremony on Opening Day at Citi Field on March 31, the Mets said. The ceremony will include a video tribute and the unveiling of a commemorative logo on the left field wall. Kiner’s five children will participate in the event.

The Mets will additionally commemorate Kiner with a display at the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum chronicling his 52 years with the team. They will also place a Kiner logo on the grass behind home plate at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, home to Mets spring training and the St. Lucie Mets Minor League team.

Kiner was a Mets broadcaster since the team’s inception in 1962, and called games for more than 40 seasons. Previously, he was a Hall of Fame player who spent most of his 10-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 40s and 50s.

He passed away on Feb. 6 at age 91.

-With additional reporting by Liam La Guerre



Sen. Tony Avella, park advocates sue to stop Citi Field mega mall

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy NYCEDC

State Senator Tony Avella and a long list of Queens park advocates are suing the city to stop a mega mall from coming to Citi Field.

The 1.4 million-square-foot shopping center is part of a major $3 billion project by Sterling Equities and Related Companies to redevelop Willets Point.

The ambitious and controversial plan, approved Oct. 9 by the City Council, also includes the cleanup of 23 acres of contaminated land and the eventual construction of housing units with commercial and retail space.

The group filed the suit Feb. 10 in New York County Supreme Court, saying the project cannot proceed without state Legislature approval under a doctrine that protects state parkland.

The suit also seeks annulments of city approvals.

“It’s a serious principle here,” Avella said. “If the city is allowed to get away with this, what’s to stop them next time? If we keep giving it away, someday we’ll wake up and there will be no parks.”



First Queens Baseball Convention reveals spirit of Mets fans

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

New York Mets fans have heard this maybe a million times—they have a troubled franchise.

The team has not won a World Series in nearly three decades, and have been disappointing in the last five years as they have struggled just to stay above .500.

That’s just scratching the surface of issues, but even as frustrating as that has been, the spirit of Mets fans is alive and well, and was strongly represented by more than 400 fans at the first-ever Queens Baseball Convention (QBC) Saturday.

“It’s pretty exciting. We may not be in the playoffs every year, but it’s cool to see everyone, and the spirit of Mets fans,” said Andrew Hermida, an illustrator, who was selling his original Mr. Met drawings at the QBC.

The event, which was at McFadden’s bar in Citi Field, was organized by a trio of die hard Mets fans—Shannon “Shark” Prior and Keith Blacknick, the pair behind blog site Metspolice.com, and The 7 Line clothing brand founder Darren Meenan.

The premise was simply to celebrate the past figures of the franchise, a hopefully fruitful future, and just being Mets fan–and there was plenty for fans to do. Wearing orange and blue shirts, jerseys, caps, socks, shoes, and jackets, the Mets faithful played games, enjoyed Mets trivia, bought parts of the old Shea Stadium and Mets memorabilia, paraded in their jerseys, and talked about the past and the upcoming season.

“Hundreds of people paid $35 to celebrate a team that hasn’t won anything in years. It’s like some weird cult,” said Mets fan and comedian Jeff Hysen, who was the event’s MC.

Parents attended the QBC with their children, who brought their children, as generations of fans were present. The kids tried their hand at a dunk tank and got their faces painted.

The event surely attracted many fans for its guest speakers, which included former players Ron Darling and Ed Kranepool, members of the Mets 1986 and 1969 World Series teams respectively.

The former players signed autographs for fans, and had question-and-answer sessions. Even Darling, who is now a baseball broadcaster, was astounded at how much love fans showed their troubled franchise.

“You guys never give up,” Darling said about Mets fans during his forum. “I don’t know how you do it.”

That’s because to some, being a fan isn’t about winning.

“Sports is not about winning, it’s about enjoying the sport. I don’t think it’s exciting to be on the winning team every year. You have to have something to play for,” said Heidi Springer of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, who attended the event with her husband and two sons.

The first QBC attracted a strong crowd, many of whom said they would like to see the event return. Organizers did say they would like to make it an annual event, but are just happy for the turnout of the first QBC.

“The good part about it is everyone that’s involved in it is a Mets fan,” Meenan said. “It’s really a team effort.”



Convention center and 25-story hotel headed for Corona

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of Fleet Financial Group

A convention center complex as big as a city block, with a 25-story hotel and apartments, may be coming to Queens. 

Fleet Financial Group plans to build a roughly 106,000-square-foot convention center, the largest in the East Coast, at 112-21 Northern Blvd. in Corona.

The $200 million real estate project also includes 292 river-view hotel rooms, 236 luxurious apartments, a shopping center and a high-class restaurant.

“That area is really booming. It’s going to be great for Queens,” said Fleet president Richard Xia.

The site is near Citi Field, where a major $3 billion redevelopment project, including a mega mall, is slated for Willets Point. It is also by the Grand Central Parkway, about two miles from LaGuardia Airport.

“People pass by, but they never stop here,” said Xia, who lives and works in Flushing. “It’s going to be something that will create a lot of jobs and, in the meantime, bring a lot more business activity to Queens.”

Fleet purchased the 1.67-acre property — currently the site of the DiBlasi Ford dealership — last month for $17 million, according to Xia.

The company is also in the midst of completing an 18-story Westin Element hotel, with a medical center, at 42-31 Union St. in Flushing.

Construction of the massive complex in Corona, dubbed the Eastern Emerald Center, would create nearly 3,000 jobs, Xia said.

Work is expected to start this June and end in 2017, though the proposal still needs approval from Community Board 3, the Queens borough president and the city.

The project has support from Queens Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Seth Bornstein and Queens Chamber of Commerce President Al Pennisi.

“It sounds like a really good idea,” Bornstein said. “We lack quality, large-scale space for events. It would really be a benefit to the borough.”

Pennisi said the city “could use more than one” facility like the Javits Center in Manhattan.

“[The Chamber] thought of this project,” Pennisi said. “It’ll bring conventions of all sizes into a modern facility. Everybody will benefit from it.”

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras and Victor Rodriguez, a Corona resident who owns a mini market near the proposed complex, hope the development will be a boon for the neighborhood.

“I think it’s good for us,” Rodriguez said. “It’ll bring more people here.”

But a local educator, who did not want to be named, said the slated site is near too many schools on an already accident-prone portion of Northern Boulevard.

“To have something of that magnitude, and all these people coming to town, I can’t see how that improves anything,” she said. “Money is good and people need jobs, but there are so many other things not fixed as is.”


Connecticut man arrested for threatening Mets

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A Connecticut man has been charged for allegedly making threats against the New York Mets.

Aryn Leroux, 42, of West Haven, was arrested Wednesday for making threats against the baseball team’s players, coaches, executives as well as Citi Field, according to the AP, and charged with misdemeanor threatening and breach of peace.

He reportedly made the threats through Twitter.




Willets Point mega mall gets final City Council green light

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo rendering courtesy of NYCEDC

The City Council approved a major $3 billion Willets Point project Wednesday, clearing the way for a mega mall near Citi Field.

Developers Sterling Equities and Related Companies needed the council’s permission to move Citi Field parking to Willets Point in order to build a 1.4 million-square-foot shopping center west of the baseball stadium.

It was the last hurdle the joint venture needed to jump over after Community Board 7, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and the City Planning Commission gave the project the green light this summer.

The ambitious project includes the cleanup of 23 acres of contaminated land east of Citi Field and eventual construction of housing units with commercial and retail space.

It was long stalled as Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who represents the area, waited for better relocation plans for soon-to-be-displaced Willets Point business owners.

Auto shop owners who make up the Iron Triangle said they can only survive if they are moved as a whole and can continue as a one-stop shop for motorists.

The pooled $12.5 million offered in total relocation aid payouts were not enough for the approximate 100 auto shops in the first phase of the redevelopment site, advocates said.

The city agreed to spend $15.5 million on moving expenses and relocation of Willets Point business owners as part of a deal struck with the City Council, Ferreras said.

About $17 million more will be given to the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Alliance for upkeep and maintenance of the park and construction of a green rooftop farm on top of the entertainment center.

“This deal would be a win for our constituents, a win for Willets Point and a win for New York City,” Ferreras said. “This vote has always been about improving the lives of our constituents.”

Construction of 2,500 housing units — 35 percent of which will be affordable — will also be moved up from its original set 2025 date, officials said.

“It is important to note that never before has a council district seen this much affordable housing,” Ferreras said.

“For years, this area has gone without many of the resources the rest of the city has regularly received,” she continued. “Our district deserves to have the same treatment as any other area in New York City.”

About $66 million in the city budget will be set aside to put up new ramps off the Van Wyck Expressway, Ferreras said. Developers also agreed to shell out $7 million for traffic improvement and mitigations.

Written commitments by the joint venture also include funding traffic mitigation measures, building a 1,000-seat K-8 public school, giving $1.87 million to the Willets Point Infrastructure and Traffic Mitigation Fund and hiring locally.

Critics of the plan still say the area needs affordable housing before a colossal shopping center.

Hundreds marched to oppose the project late last month, and at least eight auto shop owners held a hunger strike in August.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Councilmember Mark Weprin, chair of the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee. “We’ve heard from everyone who wanted to testify right until the end. Not everyone got everything they wanted … [but] the process works. It is great when the community voices can be heard and the members can sit and advocate on behalf of their constituents.”

Officials said the project would provide 7,100 permanent jobs and generate more than $310 million in tax revenue.

“Today’s approvals mean that the historic vision for a redeveloped Willets Point is finally going to become a reality,” the joint venture said in a statement. “Thanks to today’s actions, we are going to transform a contaminated site into a new community with thousands of new jobs, affordable housing, retail and open space.”



Mike Piazza inducted into Mets Hall of Fame

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of The New York Mets

It was a Piazza palooza at Citi Field.

The New York Mets inducted legendary catcher Mike Piazza as the 27th member in the Mets Hall of Fame on Sunday before the team played its final game of the year.

Piazza received a proclamation from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which declared September 29 as Mike Piazza Day.

“I’m very, very proud to be a New York Met,” Piazza said. “I’m glad they took recognition and gave me this honor.”

Citi Field was packed for Piazza’s induction as many cheered for one of the franchise’s most prominent figures.

Piazza threw out the first pitch of the game to Mets captain David Wright and Piazza’s former teammates Edgardo Alfonzo and John Franco presented him with a plaque and shared some kind words.

“You were a tremendous teammate,” Franco said. “You played hurt, you played hard and you are a great guy to be around. So I just want to say congratulations from one Italian brother to another.”

Piazza is known as one of the greatest hitting catchers of all time. He has the most home runs for a catcher ever with 427, a career .308 batting average and 2,127 hits.

Piazza played 972 games for the Mets, eight of his 16-year career in MLB. He hit 220 home runs with the Mets, ranking second in franchise history, behind Darryl Strawberry (252). He ranks first in team history with a .542 slugging percentage and is third in RBIs (655). Piazza was a seven-time All-Star when he played with the Mets and set a team-record with 124 RBIs and hit 40 home runs in 1999.

Then in 2000 he finished with 38 home runs and drove in 113 runs to lead the team to win the National League Division Championship.

Fortunately the Mets won the final game of the year 3-2 against the Brewers to top off the Hall of Fame celebration, despite another year with a losing record, 74-88.

Piazza is looking forward to a time when the Mets are once again on top of the league standings. He also joked that the organization will have first crack at his son, but he won’t be cheap.

“I’ll teach him how to hit and the rest is up to him,” Piazza said.



Road closure hurting Willets Point businesses, say owners

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Business has come to a screeching halt for about 20 auto shops stunted by construction near Citi Field, The Courier has learned.

“It’s crushing us,” said store owner Sal Yaloz. “We’re really, really suffering. I just want to work, and you don’t hear that too often.”

The city shut out business for nearly two dozen storefronts down 34th Avenue when it closed off the roadway at 126th Street entirely about three weeks ago, store owners said.

Construction from the first phase of a major $3 billion project to transform Willets Point has been gradually cutting down income for area businesses since last October, they said.

But the strip of stores in the project’s second phase was brought to a complete standstill when the major street was barricaded.

“This is a main road. If you close it, it’s like closing a main artery to your heart,” said David Antonacci, co-owner of Crown Container.

Asad Zamayar, who runs Lightning Auto Service, said the stores heavily depend on street traffic.

“If there are no cars, there is no money,” he said. “When the road is closed, there is no business.”

Determined motorists could instead loop around and enter from 127th Street, but shop owners say few take the detour.

“If you can’t get into this area, you’re going to go somewhere else,” Antonacci said.
Yaloz, who almost single-handedly runs Fast Tire Shop, estimates losing 80 percent of his business since the street closed.

“My tax bill is still coming. I still have to pay rent, but I don’t have regular income coming in,” he said.

Business owner Charles Akah, who has a corner alignment shop, totaled his losses to at least $80,000. He said he used to see between 10 and 15 customers daily.

“If I get one or two now, I’m very lucky,” he said. “I feel bad for a business that’s been there for 20 years. I’m hardly paying my rent, let alone my taxes to the city.”

The street temporarily reopened on August 22 for the US Open but closes again September 10 when the international tennis tournament is over.

The day after the concrete street barriers were lifted, Yaloz said he saw more customers that morning than he had all week.

“There was a huge difference,” he said.

But the two week break is not enough, store owners said.

“I’m hoping they’ll have some sympathy and open up the streets for good so we have access for our customers to come in,” Akah said.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation said officials are “currently reviewing possible steps towards mitigation,” which includes possibly adding more signage for “increased visibility.”

“We have been in contact with these businesses for several weeks,” said spokesperson Patrick Muncie, “including speaking with the owners directly at last week’s public informational meeting.”

Traffic and business resumed for the strip of auto shops on 34th Avenue one day after the street temporarily reopened.



Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 84. Winds from the NW at 5 to 15 mph shifting to the SSW in the afternoon. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Fog overnight. Low of 72. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Edge of Heaven

Socrates Sculpture Park and AT&T host an eight-week outdoor film festival that includes dance, food, musical performance and film. Food offerings include regional cuisine and films in their original language with English subtitles. The festival concludes this Wednesday with the film The Edge of Heaven, which explores the lives of six characters, including a female Kurdish political activist wanted by the authorities and Lotte, a naïve student who becomes sexually entangled with her. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Willets Point tenants offered rent subsidies to make way for mall next to Citi Field

Small businesses in the blighted area near Citi Field, where the Mets play, are being offered payment equal to a year’s rent if they vacate by the end of November to make way for a retail-and-entertainment mall. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Suspect in 2011 Queens barbecue shooting arrested in NC

A New York City man has been arrested in North Carolina in connection with a 2011 shooting at a Queens house party in which 11 people were wounded, including a 14-year-old girl who was struck in the back and paralyzed. Read more: NBC New York

Queens officials want cut of tourism revenue to help attract visitors 

Queens lawmaker has proposed giving the outer boroughs more money from the state hotel occupancy tax. Read more: CBS New York

Taxicab hits British tourist, severs her leg, in Midtown Manhattan: witnesses

A taxicab that swerved to avoid hitting a bike messenger struck a British tourist, severing her leg, before jumping a curb in busy midtown Manhattan, witnesses said. Read more: NBC New York

Proposal: 10 cent charge on plastic and paper bags

New legislation that is aimed to dramatically reduce bag use in New York City would put a $.10 surcharge on plastic or paper carry out bags at grocery and retail stores. Read more: Fox New York

WikiLeaks soldier Manning to learn his fate today

Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier convicted of the biggest breach of classified data in the nation’s history, will be told on Wednesday how much of his life will be spent in a military prison. Read more: Reuters


Spend the night with Mr. Met: Citi Field Sleepover announced

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

File photo

The Mets are hoping to make fans’ dreams come true— with a sleepover.

The team announced its first-ever “Citi Field Sleepover” will be on Saturday, August 10 at the ballpark. Tickets for the sleepover started to go on sale today at 10 a.m., and a presale was available yesterday for Mets season ticket holders.

Only 500 tickets will be available for purchase with 1-3 tickets for $200 or $175 for 4-6 tickets.

The Mets will be playing the Arizona Diamondbacks from 8:10 p.m. and fans can watch SNY’s live broadcast of the game on the big screen in center field. Fans attending the sleepover will receive a ticket to the Mets’ Saturday, September 28 game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The 15- hour event will include a dinner buffet in FanFest without alcoholic beverages, late night snack in the Modell’s Clubhouse and breakfast.

The stadium will open at 5:00 p.m for the sleepover. Fans are responsible for bringing any sleeping material, such as sleeping bags, pillows, blankets and tents.

Only fans with sleeping bags can sleep on the grass and those with tents will be regulated to the warning track.

For tickets go to Mets.com/sleepover.