Shea Stadium - New York Mets tickets

Shea Stadium

Flushing, New York

Tenant: New York Mets (NL)
Opened: April 17, 1964
Last game: September 28, 2008
Demolition: 2009
Surface: Bluegrass
Capacity: 55,601 (baseball)

Architect: Praeger-Kavanaugh-Waterbury
Construction: Carlin-Crimmins J.V. (a joint venture of P.J. Carlin Construction Co. and Thomas Crimmins Contracting Co.)
Owner: City of New York
Cost: $25.5 million

New York Mets tickets:

Location: Center field (E by NE), 126th Street; third base (N by NW), Whitestone Expressway/I-678 and Flushing Bay; home plate (W by SW), Grand Central Parkway; first base (S by SE), Roosevelt Avenue; in Queens, near Flushing Meadow Park, site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, just southeast of La Guardia Airport.

Dimensions: Foul lines: 330 (marked, l964), 341 (actual, 1964), 341 (1965), 338 (1979); power alleys: 371, 378 (current); center field: 410; backstop: 80; foul territory: very large.

Fences: Foul lines: 16.33 (4 wire and railing above 12.33 brick, 1964), 12.33 (brick, 1965), 8 (wood, 1979); power alleys: 8 (wood); center field small section: 8.75 (wood), most 8 (wood).

Shea Stadium is named after William Alfred Shea, an attorney who was instrumental in acquiring a new team for New York following the city's abandonment by the Giants and the Dodgers in the 1950s. Appointed chairman of the Baseball Commission by then New York mayor Robert Wagner, Shea first tried to get the Cincinnati Reds, the Pittsburgh Pirates, or the Philadelphia Phillies to move to New York, but had no luck. He then tried to organize a third major league, the Continental League, in 1958, with a franchise for New York, but the league died before a single game was played. In 1960, National League owners decided to expand to 10 teams and awarded franchises to Houston and New York. There were rumors that New York would be rejected unless it guaranteed construction of a new stadium. At Shea’s suggestion, Wagner sent telegrams to each owner with such an assurance, and the Mets started play in 1962.

Originally, the Mets were to play only one season at the Polo Grounds, the former home of the New York Giants. However, construction of the new ballpark fell behind schedule. Shea Stadium cost $28.5 million to build and took 29 months from its groundbreaking on October 28, 1961, to its dedication on April 17, 1964. It was originally to be called Flushing Meadow Park, but a movement was quickly launched to name it in honor of Shea. The stadium contains 24 ramps and 21 escalators. It was also the first stadium capable of being converted from baseball to football and back using two motor-operated stands that moved on underground tracks. Shea Stadium is the noisiest outdoor ballpark in the majors because it is in the flight path of La Guardia Airport. The story goes that when the city scouted out stadium sites in 1962, they went during the winter, when flight paths into La Guardia are different, so they never anticipated the aircraft noise.

Plans were drawn up to add 15,000 seats and cover the stadium with a dome. Those plans were scrapped when studies showed the stadium might collapse under the weight of a roof. An article in the February 1, 1996 issue of the New York Times reported that the Mets plan on building a new ballpark in Queens some time in the next ten years. The owner said that he wanted the new park to resemble Ebbets Field with a retractable roof.

On Sunday, September 28, 2008, the Mets played their final game at Shea Stadium, a 4-2 loss to the Florida Marlins. In 2009, the team began playing at Citi Field, their new home, built adjacent to Shea Stadium.

Shea Stadium Trivia:

  • Designed to be expandable to 90,000 seats.
  • Right-center scoreboard is one of largest in the majors, 175 feet long and 86 feet high with Bulova clock on top, about 25 feet behind the outfield fence.
  • Behind the fence in center, just to the right of the 410 mark, is a Mets Magic Top Hat. When a Met hits a homer, a red Big Apple rises out of the black top hat, which actually looks more like a big kettle.
  • Worst visibility for hitters in the majors.
  • Churchlike spire beyond center-field fence formerly graced by "Serval Zippers" sign.
  • Christened April 16, 1964, with Dodgers Holy Water from the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn and Giants Holy Water from the Harlem River at the exact location where it passed the old Polo Grounds.
  • The only All-Star game to be played at Shea Stadium was in 1964, its inaugural season.
  • The Beatles played before 53,275 fans in August 1965 and again in August 1966.
  • The New York Yankees played there from April 6, 1974, to September 28, 1975 while Yankee Stadium was renovated.

More on Shea Stadium:

Recommended Reading (bibliography):

  • Babe Ruth Slept Here: The Baseball Landmarks of New York City by Jim Reisler.
  • Fodor's Baseball Vacations, 3rd Edition: Great Family Trips to Minor League and Classic Major League Ballparks Across America by Bruce Adams and Margaret Engel.
  • The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan's Guide to Major League Stadiums by Joshua Pahigian and Kevin O'Connell.
  • Joe Mock's Ballpark Guide by Joe Mock.
  • Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present by Josh Leventhal and Jessica Macmurray.
  • The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic (Revised Edition) by Ron Smith and Kevin Belford.
  • Ballparks: A Panoramic History by Marc Sandalow and Jim Sutton.
  • Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit (2nd Edition) by Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause.
  • Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums by Kevin J. Delaney and Rick Eckstein.
  • Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums by Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist.

Shea Stadium seating diagram Polo GroundsCiti Field
Oriole ParkHilltop ParkYankee StadiumNew Yankees Stadium

New York Mets
Shea Stadium
123-01 Roosevelt Avenue
Flushing, New York 11368

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Aerial view of Shea Stadium © 2000 by Mike Smith.
View inside Shea Stadium © 1999 by Ira Rosen.

Updated September 2008

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