I was reminded of my last masochistic trip to NY Mets’ Citi Field when I read the story of an off-duty cop dragged out of the stadium in handcuffs.
In the latter half of a game last week, Eduardo Cornejo saw a row of empty seats and thought there was no harm in moving down to one. Wrong.
He was soon surrounded by swaggering stadium security officers and told to scram. Cornejo refused to budge, and the make believe cops cuffed and charged the real one with criminal trespass.
Was Cornejo right to hold his ground, or did he think he was above the law because he was a cop? And what is that law anyway?
I know, you are only entitled to the seat you purchased. Someone who paid $200 for a ticket shouldn’t suddenly find himself beside uninvited rabble who paid $20, right?
The only problem is actually finding anyone who paid $200 (and up) for these premium seats, since they are almost always empty. After recently moving into sparkling new stadiums, both the Mets and Yankees jacked up the prices of the good seats to astronomical levels. They didn’t plan on the economic crash, and now have trouble finding takers at these outlandish prices.
While the Mets often quietly offer these (and all) seats at bargain basement rates on various web sites, they are strangely insensitive to their loyal if dwindling working and middle class fan base. For example, me.
Early this month I attended a Met game on an unusually cool and windy night. As temperatures plunged into the 30s, we shivered in our seats watching the outmanned Mets gamely battle on the field. We decided to warm up with coffee, soup and assorted snacks. When I got to the huge food court in centerfield, I saw more people waiting on the Shake Shack line than in all the stadium seats.
Meanwhile, my thrifty pal saw the Subway $5 Foot Long sign and went for the bargain. Only it wasn’t. “That’ll be $10.95″ he was told. “But there’s a huge sign in right field saying five dollar foot longs!” he protested. “Not here,” replied the curt concessionaire.
A misty rain added to our fun, as the Mets played on. With the stadium now 90% empty, we stubbornly decided to stick out the close game and cheer on our heroes, moving down to a section of empty seats behind 3rd base on the covered lower deck.
As we tried to enter the sacred section, two members of the Mets Gestapo jumped in front of us. “Where are your tickets?” one demanded.
“We came down from the third deck,” I admitted.
“So what are you doing here?”
“Come on, the whole section is empty!” I pleaded.
But this self-important security goon had a bigger head than Mr. Met.
“Get back up to your seats or leave the stadium,” he snarled.
You’d think a lousy team run by an owner deeply involved in the Bernie Madoff scandal and letting his best players get away would be eager to make a goodwill gesture to the shrinking number of fans it had left. Think again.
Despite all this, I still hold a special place in my heart for the fiesty Mets. But don’t look for me (and I suspect, Officer Cornejo) at Citi Field anytime soon.