No fans? Mets to use cutouts in Citi Field stands

July 8th, 2020

NEW YORK -- When the Mets open their regular-season schedule against the Braves on July 24, they won’t be playing in front of fans. But that doesn’t mean Citi Field will be empty.

The team plans to install cardboard cutouts around the stadium featuring likenesses of fans or other customized designs. On Wednesday, the Mets sent out an offer allowing those who renew their season tickets for 2021 to have a personalized cutout of themselves placed in a Citi Field seat during games. Each renewed full- or partial-season ticket is good for one cutout, up to a maximum of six. The Mets will assign placement of the cutouts around the park, with no guarantee that specific seat requests will be honored.

The Mets hinted at a future option for non-season ticketholders to purchase cutouts. But a team official said the club was not prepared to release information about that potential portion of the program.

Cutouts have become a way for sports leagues without fans to add color and atmosphere to their stadiums. Notably, the KBO in Korea has filled the first few rows of stadiums with cardboard cutouts or stuffed animals. Major League teams, including the Giants and Brewers, have announced similar programs.

For the Mets, it will be a hint of normalcy during an abnormal time.

"It's definitely going to be missed, especially playing here in front of the home crowd, the New York fans, it's going to be an adjustment, for sure," pitcher Steven Matz said of the lack of fans. "But it's just what we've got to deal with. You've just got to deal with the task at hand here, and that's playing without fans."

Earlier this month, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner told the YES Network that he does “expect to see fans in our stadium at some point to some degree,” citing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a “big advocate … to get fans back in the stadium” when it is safe to do so. However, with so much uncertainty surrounding the spread of the coronavirus across the country, there are no guarantees that will happen.

The Mets understand that playing in front of empty stadiums will be an adjustment, with or without cutouts in the seats.

“I know that every single New York Met fan’s going to be watching at home,” first baseman Pete Alonso said, downplaying the effect that empty stadiums might have on the Mets. “Every time we play a game, yes, there’s people in the stands, whether it be a packed house or a slow midweek game, there are still so many other people watching at home. You can have hundreds of thousands of people, putting a smile on their faces every single night.”