|Chronological Tour: Stop 200|
Main entrance to KeySpan Park, Jul-2001.
The luxury and press boxes sit on stilts behind the main seating bowl.
New artificial turf on the field, with Coney Island amusements in the background, Aug-2013.
Just a few blocks west of the Nathanís Famous hot-dog stand at Stillwell and Surf avenues sits the newest addition to the Coney Island scene, KeySpan Park. It was built to accommodate a team purchased by the New York Mets in 1999 and moved from St. Catharines, Ont. They played the 2000 season at St. Johnís University in Jamaica, calling themselves the Queens Kings, before moving into their new facility on the site of the old Steeplechase Park in 2001. KeySpan, the naming sponsor from 2001-09, was an energy delivery company whose primary holding is the old Brooklyn Union Gas; MCU, which has its name on the park starting in 2010, is the cityís municipal credit union.
The team was named after the nearby Cyclone roller coaster on the Coney Island amusement strip, just to the east, but it pays homage to the heritage of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who played several miles to the north before relocating to California for the 1958 season. A statue of Dodgers Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese stands just outside the main entrance, and one of the team mascots is Sandy the Seagull, named partly for the ocean beach and partly in tribute to pitcher Sandy Koufax, who came up with the Dodgers just before their move west.
Ironically, another Sandy prompted a major change to the facility for the 2013 season. An October 2012 storm by that name did major damage to the coast, ruining the field. The Cyclones responded by replacing the original grass-and-dirt surface with artificial turf. Now, only the pitcherís mound and the area surrounding home plate are dirt.
While the architecture of the park itself is a bit underwhelming, the atmosphere makes up for it. Brooklynites know how to have fun at the ball game.
MCU Park was chosen to host a qualifying tournament for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. The national teams slated to participate were Brazil, a 2013 entrant relegated to the qualifying round for finishing at the bottom of its pool, along with Great Britain, Israel, and Pakistan. Israel, composed mainly of players with professional experience but Jewish heritage, advanced by winning all three of their games in the tournament, played September 22-25, 2016.
For motorists, the park is half a mile from the Cropsey Avenue exit off Shore Parkway, a highway limited to noncommercial vehicles that runs along much of Brooklynís shoreline and is part of the larger Belt Parkway. (Overhead signs and traffic reporters identify the road as Belt Parkway, but Shore Parkway remains the highwayís official name.)
Two sets of bleachers were added in right field after the 2001 season started, to accommodate the throngs that have approached the gates here. Like the rest of the park, they filled quickly on game nights, especially on weekends, but as demand has eased, the club announced that one of the bleacher sets was being removed for 2016.
The Cyclones give away free programs as well as roster inserts that are updated with player statistics through the previous day, an unusual touch. Unfortunately, the whiteboard with the lineups is on a very crowded section of concourse behind the plate, making it difficult to transcribe those lineups while fighting other fans looking for their seats or a particular item at the concession stand. Fortunately, the video board and public address announcer do a good job of identifying players.
The park was built to blend into the area, with colored screens for the fluorescent lighting on the concourses mimicking the amusement park and neon rings (now LEDs) around the banks of field lights. There are sufficient food stands, although a Nathanís hot dog costs more here than it does down the block at the original stand (and the order of fries is smaller). The souvenir stand is built on two levels (street and concourse). It was also the first place I ever saw that has a scoreboard with all red LEDs. (That board was replaced by a newer model, also with red LEDs, which have become much more common in recent years.)
|465||Mon 9-Jul-2001||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 4, Vermont 1|
|494||Sat 25-Aug-2001||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 12, Hudson Valley 3|
|709||Thu 26-Aug-2004||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 11, Oneonta 2|
|744||Mon 27-Jun-2005||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 5, NJ Cardinals 4|
|745||Wed 29-Jun-2005||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 6, NJ Cardinals 5|
|761||Thu 4-Aug-2005||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 6, Vermont 5, 11 inn|
|822||Wed 26-Jul-2006||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 2, Mahoning Valley 1|
|900||Wed 5-Sep-2007||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 3, Lowell 1|
|904||Mon 10-Sep-2007||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 3, Staten Island 1|
|953||Thu 21-Aug-2008||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 2, Lowell 0|
|959||Wed 27-Aug-2008||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 3, Oneonta 1|
|1028||Wed 2-Sep-2009||NY-Penn||A||Hudson Valley 4, BROOKLYN 2|
|1035||Tue 8-Sep-2009||NY-Penn||A||Mahoning Valley 3, BROOKLYN 1|
|1068||Thu 5-Aug-2010||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 14, Batavia 4|
|1098||Wed 8-Sep-2010||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 9, Jamestown 8, 12 inn|
|1101||Tue 14-Sep-2010||NY-Penn||A||Tri-City 5, BROOKLYN 1|
|1127||Thu 21-Jul-2011||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 13, Aberdeen 0|
|1203||Thu 2-Aug-2012||NY-Penn||A||Connecticut 11, BROOKLYN 5|
|1272||Wed 14-Aug-2013||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 3, Hudson Valley 1|
|1324||Wed 30-Jul-2014||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 9, Auburn 4|
|1337||Wed 13-Aug-2014||NY-Penn||A||Lowell 3, BROOKLYN 2, 1st|
|1338||Wed 13-Aug-2014||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 3, Lowell 2, 8 inn, 2d|
|1409||Wed 19-Aug-2015||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 3, Lowell 1|
|1481||Sun 14-Aug-2016||NY-Penn||A||BROOKLYN 2, WV Black Bears 1|
|1527||Fri 23-Sep-2016||World Classic||OSP||Great Britain 14, Pakistan 0, 7 inn|
|1528||Sat 24-Sep-2016||World Classic||OSP||Great Britain 4, Brazil 3|
|1530||Sun 25-Sep-2016||World Classic||OSP||Israel 9, Great Britain 1|