"It's awesome. It's nice to have something like this that's our own now," said baseball stadium connoisseur Roger Ratzenberger, 48, of Milford, Conn. "I've been to 39 Major League parks and some in Japan, too. It's got a little bit of quirkiness in the outfield, where it's not uniform all the way around. I like the way the fence goes up and down."
For a park that hadn't hosted a game for its own team yet, Citi Field gave fans a sense of history as they walked in through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Waves of nostalgia swept through Joe Trotta, wearing a royal blue Brooklyn jacket, as he reminisced about watching the Dodgers at Ebbets Field.
"I'm an old baseball fan. The rotunda's a little different. It was smaller," said Trotta, referring to the legendary ballpark. "There were a bunch of ticket windows, and of course, no merchandising, as far as I can remember. There are some similarities, though."
As far as Citi Field goes, "It's brand new. What's not to like?" Trotta said. "You really have a great view of the field from anywhere."
While the memory of Ebbets Field is present throughout the stadium, others waxed poetic about the building sitting in ruins in the Mets' new parking lot.
"It was kind of sad for me at first to think that Shea [Stadium] wasn't going to be there and then I saw the rubble outside," said Betsy Bilger, 25, of East Fallowfield, Pa. "This is all amazing, though. I like all the old stuff, like the apple and the skyline lights and how they brought some of Shea to Citi. But with the apple, I like the old one. I can't help it."
Mark Friedman said, "I went to my first baseball game with my dad there and my son came with me, but it was time for something new and something clean. They needed something more state-of-the-art, something with more to do than to just come and sit in the seats and watch a baseball game."
The seats weren't close to being filled until the first pitch because everyone was still walking around, making sure they didn't miss seeing an inch of the ballpark. Friedman, 47, who was eating in the Taste of the City food court in left-center field, had been waiting for this day for more than a year.
"We had season tickets for the first time last year, and we used it as an opportunity to improve our seats," Friedman said. "I bought them last year with the full intent to buy at Citi Field. I like how it's more of an intimate setting."
As a plane flew overhead, Friedman smiled and replied, "Some things don't change."