By: Paul DiSclafani
It will always be the “Pepsi Porch” to me.
I’ve never called the Triboro Bridge the “RFK” bridge, have you? Did you even know that they renamed the 59th Street Bridge after former NYC Mayor Ed Koch? Hell, I still sometimes call Citi Field Shea Stadium…
I was awe-struck the first time I walked into Citi Field. I went to the first event there, a St. John’s University baseball game just before the opening of the 2009 MLB season. Everyone was there for the same reason, to bask in the glory that was now ours. A brand, spanking new stadium! Oh, I know everyone waxes nostalgic about Shea Stadium and it’s charm and history and all that. But it was a dump. It was OUR dump, but a dump none the less.
Shea had character and memories, but is also had bad plumbing and leaked when it rained. The escalators didn’t work most of the time, but we at least had the ramps. When you left your seat, you left the game action, plain and simple.
The beauty of Citi Field was a sight to behold! For the first few years, there were more people wandering around than sitting in their seats. If you were anywhere on the lower level, you could just stop and watch the action. If you were just about anywhere in the stadium, you could look at a video screen of the action. But Citi Field offered Mets fans something that most had never experienced, a view of the action from fair territory and a chance to catch a home run ball.
Oh sure, Shea had a “picnic” area out in left-center, but you couldn’t buy a ticket there. You had to be part of a “group” to sit there. Now Citi Field offered you the chance to sit anywhere in the stadium. But there was one eye-catching, bigger than life attraction – The Pepsi Porch.
The gigantic, iconic, red, white and blue “Pepsi-Cola” neon sign was like a beacon of coolness. Not only were your eyes drawn to it, you wanted to go up there and see what was going on. Your seats were actually hanging over the field of play and you could look down on the right fielder. This was no ordinary “bleacher” seats, this was the place to be. Oh sure, you could sit behind home plate, or on the field level, but it would bring a smile to anyone’s face when you told them you seats were in the “Pepsi Porch”.
It was the highlight of the 2013 All-Star game home run derby. What left-handed participant didn’t want to crank one into the Porch? And as a fan, it didn’t get much better than this – You had your own concessions and your own bathrooms! They thought of everything! Even the SNY announcers broadcast a game or two from the Pepsi Porch, almost catching a home run ball during a broadcast once.
The 550 seat Porch was so popular, that the Pepsi Cola company sponsored “Pepsi Porches” in other stadiums, like San Diego and Comerica Park in Detroit. Only those parks just found areas to rename the “Pepsi Porch”. Citi Field BUILT a Pepsi Porch.
And now, the Pepsi Porch is no more. The Pepsi Cola Company has decided not to renew their sponsorship agreement with the Mets. “Pepsi loves the great sport of baseball,” Pepsi said in a statement. “We’ve had a productive relationship with the Mets and wish them all the best in the future, but have decided to reinvest in a different way.”
What better way than that? Every person who has ever attended a game at Citi Field or watched the Mets on TV knows what the “Pepsi Porch” is. Other than our Home Run Apple, the Porch is the most recognizable aspect of Citi Field. Granted, most people spend the most time on the line at the Shake Shack, but ya gotta eat, right?
So what happens now? Does Coca-Cola put in a claim to the Coke Corner? What about other sponsors? Can Viagra tie something in with the Foul Pole? What about Coors Light making it look like a mountain range?
Remember when you were a kid and you knew the name of every stadium because it had something to do with the city or the team? Not anymore. Corporate sponsorships are how some of these stadiums are getting built and I can understand that. Hell, we play at Citi Field. What’s going to happen when they file Chapter 11? I was at the JETS game on Sunday and most people are still calling Metlife Stadium, Giants Stadium.
You know what I think? I don’t think it matters. It may become one of those things that gets renamed every few years when a sponsor runs out of money. If that happens, nothing will ever “stick”. People will just call it what it is, “The Pepsi Porch”.
So let’s not say goodbye just yet. The new sponsor is going to have to do something cool and exciting to make people forget it was ever called the Pepsi Porch.
And some trivia for you – Who was the last Mets player to hit a home run into the Pepsi Porch? Michael Conforto, in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series…