Home run apple to follow Mets from Shea to Citi Field
NEW YORK -- The huge fiberglass apple that pops up when the New York Mets hit home runs will follow them to their new ballpark when it opens next year.
"The big home run apple is coming," the team's chief operating officer, Jeff Wilpon, said Tuesday during a media tour of Citi Field, the new stadium.
An apple is coming, at any rate. Mets officials said they did not know whether it would be the same fiberglass apple that has popped up like a champagne cork following Mets homers since 1980.
But a well to house the apple was visible beyond center field at the new stadium, which Wilpon said is on schedule and on budget -- about $800 million.
Some 85 percent of Citi Field's structural steel is now complete, and the tiered concrete that will support the seats and stairways is in place.
The Mets broke ground on the stadium in 2006 and announced a naming deal with Citigroup, which will pay $20 million annually, or about $400 million over a 20-year contract.
Fans will enter Citi Field through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, honoring the Brooklyn Dodgers great who integrated baseball. Other references to the long-departed Dodgers will include an Ebbets Club Lounge and a section of Ebbets seats.
The new stadium will have a capacity of 45,000 including standing room, compared with 57,333 at Shea Stadium, the team's home since 1964. It's being built next to the old stadium.
Wilpon, son of team owner Fred Wilpon, said he won't miss Shea.
"I was at Shea Stadium groundbreaking in my mother's belly," he said. "To be here for Opening Day should be pretty exciting."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press