Possible Shea renovation debated by Mets faithful

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In the first home game since published reports revealed that an internal Parks Department memo called Shea Stadium a “rapidly deteriorating” facility, 37,699 fans showed up to watch the Mets defeat the Florida Marlins 5-4 in 10 innings Friday night.

An informal sampling conducted by the Timesledger before the first pitch revealed a mixed bag of fan reactions to news of Shea’s decline and strong opinions on how the Mets should deal with their crumbling home in a struggling economy.

“Right now they have to renovate it,” said Ang Sherpa, of Astoria. “It makes sense because of the financial problems of the city.”

A confidential Parks Department document prepared late last year called Shea a “rapidly deteriorating” facility that would require “increasing costs of maintenance,” according to a report first published in the Daily News.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said none of the problems posed a threat to the safety of Mets fans and he did not waver from his previously stated position that lack of school space and the city’s projected $5 billion budget deficit made building new stadiums for the Mets and Yankees impractical.

Dan Caputi, a first-year law student at CUNY Law School in Flushing who attends nearly all of the Mets’ 81 homes games each year, said he tended to agree with the mayor.

“They should only build a new one if they are positive it will bring the revenue that will help the city get out of its fiscal crisis,” he said.

His sister, Mary Caputi of Manhattan, was against a new stadium under any circumstances. “I think it’s a waste of money to build a new stadium,” she said. “I don’t think the taxpayers should build the owners new ones.”

Fans said they were not surprised by information first reported in the Daily News that a city engineering report completed in March said the stadium is safe for fans but is showing signs of old age with corroding and cracked concrete, sagging ceilings, loose wiring, water leaks and rusted outfield bleachers.

“It’s old, disgusting and decrepit,” said Meric Underweiser, of Bayside, who added that it is time the Mets build a new, state-of-the-art ballpark.

“It’s like an ancient dinosaur,” said Ethan Kafhansky, of Centereach, L.I. “It has to be rebuilt, no question. New York fans are ready for a new stadium.”

The engineering report said 16 projects required “immediate action” because of potential “life safety” issues and 17 others could “affect public safety.”

But most fans cited the sight lines of the park, which originally was built for both baseball and football, and not cracked concrete as reasons they wanted a new stadium.

“It’s not a great stadium for baseball because you’re so far from the action,” said Clay Squire, of Astoria. “I was at Fenway Park two weeks ago and the furthest seats are still right on top of the action.”

Shea Stadium opened in 1964 at a construction cost of $28.5 million. It is the fifth-oldest major league ballpark after Fenway in Boston, Wrigley Field in Chicago, Yankee Stadium and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

To Nancy McHale, of Massapequa, that history might be reason alone to repair the existing stadium.

“I have to say that it’s very special to me,” she said. “It holds a lot of memories and I think it’s nice the way it is. Well, actually I don’t think the women’s bathrooms are very nice.”

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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