The Mets have played just two games this young baseball season and as far as this fan of 52 years is concerned, I’ve already seen enough. The experience I had on Opening Day at Citi Field was so flabbergasting, it bordered on the comedic. It was to the point where even hardliners such as myself are swearing off going to games until something is done about the substandard (for a lack of a more derogatory term) service being ‘offered’ at the concession stands.
It used to be that you had to be a go-getter, a hustler to work the concessions in Flushing. It was a game of attrition. You showed up early, got a good gig and worked your ass off. That is, once you showed the desired capability and were approved to be hired. Those standards appeared to have been lowered (or dropped altogether) by the concessions vendor, Aramark, who apparently hires anyone with a pulse. And that requirement is currently under debate.
On Thursday, the Mets’ opener was sold out. My wife and I picked up some standing room tickets as a result. We don’t mind roughing it once in awhile and Opening Day is usually a zoo, so we decided to head over to Citi Field to join the fray.
The staff at Citi Field is so ornery and incompetent it defies comprehension. First off, getting into the ballpark is a joke. If you’re heading over there, get there early if you plan on seeing any part of the game. The lines are immense. Once you’re in, you feel a sense of accomplishment but don’t get too complacent. You’re in for a long, frustrating day.
Citi Field and the Mets have been pounding their chests over how great their food selection has become. That may be so but if the people you have serving it are inexperienced boobs pulled off the street, none of that matters.
The lines at the concession stands are so long, one has to resign themselves to missing large swaths of the game in order to – God forbid – get something to eat or drink. The lines are long due to the volume, we understand that, but Aramark did not staff up properly for the event. And most of the staff that was in place were clueless, extremely slow and overall not very helpful.
Aramark must give a test to prospective employees and hire anyone who gets under a 40. I don’t like to get into name calling and labeling, so I’ll refrain. But in my 26 -minute wait for a bourbon drink, I was checking out the bar staff. One woman was shorting the drinks, leading a patron to ask, “how much for a full one?” The middle guy was winging it. He was so inconsistent with his ingredients and measurements, he had to can several drinks. The woman at the end of the stand appeared to move once, I think. I’ve seen cadavers move faster. In the 26 minutes, I saw here make, maybe, five drinks.
I am declaring the Citi Field concessions staff the worst in Major League Baseball, and that’s without even going to the other 29 ball parks. The only way someone could be worse is if they were either dead, had no arms or were decapitated.
Here’s some other things I observed…
The staff seemed disgruntled, as if they didn’t want to be there.
The service was subpar. Bartending methods were inconsistent, meaning different bartenders made the same drinks differently. A lot of beer appeared to be going down the drain. I saw a woman fill up a bucket of beer from a tap and then dump it in a sink. That’s about $70 worth of beer.
You couldn’t buy a pretzel without buying a hot dog. Even after they ran out of hot dogs. Huh?
One guy had a driver’s license that was illegible, so he was refused service at the beer line. His buddy had a readable license, however, and put his proof up on the counter. The woman behind the counter still refused them service, “because you’re with him.”
I knew I didn’t have access to the Hyundai Club, but it didn’t hurt to try. The woman at the door checked my ticket and could not have been nastier in turning us away. Her job, by description, is ‘Guest Services’. I didn’t get in for free, nor was I expecting to get anything for free. We’re always willing to pay up.
No one ever said thank you. The only person to thank me was the kid at the rotunda gate as we were leaving. And he did that because that’s his job. His only job, probably.
Another thing that burned my ass was the amount of empty seats in the house. Now, on the website, the game was sold out. That’s why they pushed me to buy standing room tix. But once we got inside, we discovered entire rows of empty seats in the lower level behind the bases. Now, these aren’t seats that were sold where the patrons failed to show up. They’re unsold tickets being held back by group sales in hopes a last minute sale.
These tickets are supposed to be released at the box office on game day. Perhaps they were but that’s a big ask for fans to pay $25 to park in order to hope to get tickets. Is anyone using their heads on 126th Street these days? Doesn’t seem so.
So, if you’re heading to Citi Field this season, I wish you luck. Don’t go hungry. Your best bet is to eat before you go or bring a sandwich with you. The Citi Field experience has become beyond ridiculous. The food is supposed to be good. That’s if they don’t run out or you don’t drop dead waiting for it.
They won’t see me again until Aramark cleans up their act. I’m not counting on it…