With tennis winding down this weekend across the street and a deadly hurricane heading towards Florida (Our prayers are with everyone), Flushing Meadows has turned into the center of the sports world.
And even though the Mets are just playing out the schedule and hope no one else goes down to injury, Citi Field announced today it will be the home club to two other teams.
First, because of Hurricane Irma, the Yankees series in Tampa against the Rays has been shifted to Citi Field on Monday through Wednesday.
The league wanted a neutral suite and even though Citi Field sits just a subway ride away from the Yankees home park, it gives the Rays the feeling of a home series.
And then the Buffalo Sabres will call Citi Field home come Jan. 1, with the Winter Classic coming to Citi Field with the New York Rangers as the road team. Because of the Rangers deal with the city, the Blueshirts must play all their home games at Madison Square Garden in order for MSG to be exempt from property tax, which is reportedly $40 million a year if the exemption was not made.
So, to settle matters, Buffalo was made to be the home team, giving the nationally televised game the New York and Buffalo television markets and the Sabres have a big following in Toronto as well.
It’s a win – win for the league.
And a big win for the Wilpons, who now have their facility being used for a number of ancillary events.
Over the past few years, the Mets were getting outflanked by the Yankees when it came to stadium use. With NYCFC coming to existence in 2015, Yankee Stadium became a multipurpose ballpark. It also hosted two outdoor hockey games and boxing matches.
All the while, Citi Field was relegated to some concerts, a couple of soccer friendlies and rental events.
With the Winter Classic coming to Queens, the Mets are now starting to play catchup when it comes to other events.
Frankly, with the Yankees and Rays using Citi Field, it makes you recall 1998 when Yankee Stadium was unusable because of a beam falling in the stadium. Games were moved to Shea Stadium where the Yankees were the home team.
Back in 1974 and ’75, the Yankees called Shea home, as Yankee Stadium went through an extensive renovation.
Since Monday is 9/11, it makes you remember that Shea was used as a staging point for rescue operations after the World Trade Center fell.
You do hope Citi would be used under better circumstances, everyone’s prayers are hoping Irma will not cause the type of destruction predicted. But with the US Open Finals this weekend and a meaningful series with the Yankees and Rays next week, Flushing Meadows is now the center of the sports world.