Brickbats and Baseballs


The Mets may be locked in a three-way battle for first place in the N.L. East, but don’t let it be said that they’re not looking to the future. Last week, the ball club sent out an online survey to “loyal Mets fans” (actually, anyone who had purchased seats via the Mets’ website) asking what they thought of a “new way to involve fans”: Engraved bricks with personalized messages that would be installed outside Citi Field when it opens in 2009. “As a Mets fan,” asked the single survey question, “would you consider purchasing a brick?”

Aside from the obvious quippage (“What, Victor Zambrano wasn’t enough?”), some other questions come to mind. Like:
Who would get the money from the brick sales? Though the Mets are putting up the cash to pay for construction of Citi Field—except for $70 million in state money going for “infrastructure,” which in this case meant the building’s foundation, among other things—the stadium itself will be owned by the city of New York. So shouldn’t city taxpayers get a chance to recoup some of their expenses—about $250 million in various subsidies and tax breaks, at last count—by getting a cut of the brick boodle?

Apparently not, according to the city

Economic Development Corporation, which confirms that the Mets get all revenues from the new stadium, whether from selling space on bricks, on ad boards, or shaved into David Wright’s scalp. (The Mets will pick up all operating costs at the new stadium, but they’ll also be absolved of the $4 million a year or so they pay in rent on Shea Stadium.) This is also why the Mets got to sell stadium naming rights to Citigroup (or Citibank, or Citi, or whatever they’re calling themselves these days) for $400 million, and pocket all the cash without sharing with their public landlords.

If you’re nonetheless eager to contribute to the Buy Willie Randolph a Pitching Staff Fund, you’ll need to be patient: The Mets say it’s too early to talk about such things as pricing. When the St. Louis Cardinals built their new stadium (which they own) last year, though, they sold about 18,000 commemorative bricks to fans at prices ranging from $155 to $360. Even allowing for a New York markup, that would still be cheaper than vanity purchases like sponsoring a Central Park bench ($7,500)though at least there, the seats are a lot cheaper to sit in.