Chronological Tour: Stop 200

Take a Ride on the Cyclone

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.

Quick Facts: Rating: 3 baseballs
For those who arenít familiar, Coney Island isnít an island. Itís a peninsula that hangs off the bottom of Brooklyn on the map, separated from the main part of Brooklyn by the Coney Island Inlet. However, Coney Island has a shoreline, and that means it has a boardwalk and amusements as well as plenty of places to eat.

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.

Getting to the Game

The park is a mere four blocks west of the Coney Island transit terminal, the end of several elevated subway lines. As a result, many fans arrive by train. New York City Transit lines run at a minimum of once every twenty minutes even during overnight hours, so it is always possible to get back to any part of the city served by the subway system.

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.)

Watching the Game

The park, like many others, is built with a lower-level seating bowl and an upper level consisting of suites and the press box. Like Staten Island, there is no mid-bowl walkway. Unlike many other parks, though, the concourse is open (although itís covered), so if it rains and thereís any wind, there is no sheltered spot. This is similar to the setup at the 1990-vintage park in El Paso, but El Paso doesnít get as many sea breezes and driving rains as Coney Island. A warm night becomes pleasant here; a cool night becomes unbearable. Itís a good thing the season doesnít start until mid-June.

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.

Enjoying the Game

While one of the main attractions of a ballpark in Brooklyn was the return of professional baseball to the borough after 44 years, the siteís primary attribute is its location, a block from the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent to the Coney Island amusement park strip. The long-inactive Parachute Jump still stands next to the right-field line, and it is now lighted at night, fitting right in with the existing roller coasters and other attractions beyond left field.

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.)

The original grass field, Jul-2001.
Game # Date League Level Result
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
1583 Wed 16-Aug-2017 NY-Penn A Aberdeen 6, BROOKLYN 2
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This page updated 16-Aug-2017