McDonald: Citi Field Needs More Ancillary Events

(Ashley Marshall/Sportsday Wire)

Exactly six days after serious November baseball was played at Citi Field, a not so serious cricket exhibition was played at the Mets’ home ballpark.

And although it obviously didn’t fill the park like the baseball postseason, a crowd of around 36,000 attended, which is not bad for a sport that most in America don’t know the rules and haven’t really watched before.

That said, the Mets can use more of these type of events at their stadium. Over the past seven years, Citi was host to four soccer matches, a lacrosse match and now a cricket exhibition to go along with a few concerts from Paul McCartney, Dave Matthews and most recently the Foo Fighters.

For all the complaints about the Mets having some financial problems, using their stadium for non baseball events is the best way to raise capital. The Yankees have been doing this very well since they opened their stadium, as the Bombers host various college football games each year and had outdoor hockey games, boxing matches, and various concerts over the past seven years in the Bronx.

And this season, the Yankees introduced NYC FC to the world, which despite the team’s record, drew an average of 29,016, which was good enough for third in the league over 17 home dates.

The bottom line is that is an unmitigated success and something for the Mets to look at doing over the next few years. Now MLS isn’t interesting in putting a third team in the New York Area, but the New York Cosmos could make an interesting partner.

At the same time cricket was being played in Flushing, the Cosmos were busy winning their semi-final match over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at MCU Park in Brooklyn to get to the NASL Soccer Bowl for the second time in three years.

Right now, the Cosmos mainly play their games at Hofstra. It’s not a modern facility, nor has the fan amenities we have come to expect. And even though, the Cosmos play on the second tier of the soccer pyramid, they do bring in some big names that should draw the average fan.

However, they are considered a minor league Long Island team, and don’t get coverage in the city papers. The Cosmos are marketed as a community team, taking ads in the local Long Island papers, and ultimately hoping for a new soccer stadium to be built by Belmont Park.

Even with that lofty ambition, the Cosmos should understand that their plans for their stadium is years away and if they get it built, they should up the number of fans that show up. This past season, they only drew an average of 6,207 a game. If they want a 25,000 seat stadium for themselves, they need a bigger fan base.

Playing at Hofstra with no public transportation options is not going to cut the mustard.

With a winning team and big names like Raul playing, the Cosmos should look to hook up with the Mets to play their games at Citi Field. With the Mets as their partner, they will get the Mets marketing, where their games will be promoted to Amazin’s season ticket base.

Plus, the Mets could partner with the Cosmos and get their games and coverage on SNY. Right now, the Red Bulls are on MSG and YES obviously takes care of the NYC FC. SNY is always looking for programming, so this is a natural fit.

Because of Citi Field’s location, many of the residents of the surrounding sections will come to the games. They are soccer fans to begin with, so essentially the Cosmos will be bringing the mountain to Mohammed.

The Mets shouldn’t worry about their field becoming a pitch either, since the Yankees proved this year that a conversion can be done on a regular basis.

It’s a natural fit. The Cosmos will get better marketing, bigger fan base and a TV partner, while the Mets will get ancillary dates to derive revenue from their stadium.

It’s something that makes sense.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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