Monday, March 23, 2009

A Stop With No Name

This story came out a couple of weeks ago. How I missed it is beyond me. I must have been in La-La Land or something, because I'd been waiting for some sort of news on the matter, and it happened, and I just plain blew it. That's a bad job by me.

Last offseason, I'd written a bit about the transformation of the 7 train station at Shea Stadium, and how the overpass that we'd been so used to walking over had been torn down to make room for the Citi Field construction. In its place was a staircase, which I felt took away from that great, grand entrance one would have to Shea. So be it. This offseason, I was wondering when the switchover would take place from the station being called "Willets Point - Shea Stadium" to "Willets Point - Citi Field."

As it turns out, that switch took place rather quietly and didn't turn out quite the way anyone expected. This story, from the March 11th NY Times, talks about how, although the MTA had procured some public funding for infrastructure and renovations to the station and the Passerrelle bridge to the LIRR station, it didn't actually involve any money for changing the name to Citi Field. Since the Mets were receiving what has become some ill-gotten funds for the stadium naming rights, the MTA apparently felt entitled to some funds for the subway station name as well. Understandable, though for other reasons I feel the MTA deserves to be boiled in oil. Why give Citi more free advertising that they don't deserve? It was only fair, after some $40 million was spent to improve what was a rather dreary station, that the MTA get their piece of the corporate naming rights pie.

The Mets, however, declined to offer any money to the MTA for the station name.

Thusly, as I discovered while looking at the weekly photo blog from citi_field on Webshots, the station is now rather ambiguously called the "Mets/Willets Point" station. It's even reflected as such on the MTA Website and on the latest Subway map. Any mention of the stadium is gone. Instead, signs just say "Mets Baseball," and the like.

I'm still not sure how I missed this completely. It's been mentioned on a few other blogs, both about the Mets and about the Subway system. The Mets Police, for one, seems to agree with the sterility of the new station name. They suggest taking it a step further: If they were going to charge to have Citi's name on the station, why not charge the Mets for the use of their name? By that logic, the stop may as well just be called plain old "Willets Point Blvd." or "126th Street." Why not, as suggested by a commenter on the QueensCrap Blog, remove any connotation to Baseball altogether and call it "Willets Point - USTA Tennis Center."

Still, though, I'm looking forward to seeing what sort of improvements they've made to the stop. The staircase did, for the most part, improve postgame egress to some degree, though things always seemed to get unnecessarily clogged up when 50,000 people were showing up to a game. Then again, since a sellout now comprises only 42,000 people, and with the William A. Shea Memorial Parking Lot set to open to the public, maybe those postgame rides on (what I sincerely hope still exists) the 7 Express back into Manhattan will be a quieter affair this coming season.

We'll see. All I need are my tickets. Have any plan holders out there received theirs yet? That's another story, for another time.

Stadium is Citi Field, but the Subway Stop has other ideas [New York Times]

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