Must-See Coney Island
by nycgo.com staff, 05/28/2013
Photo: Jen Davis
MCU Park, 1904 Surf Ave., 718-449-8497
The Brooklyn Cyclones, the New York Mets' Short-Season Class A minor league club, play in picturesque MCU Park. The smell of ocean air permeates the stadium, situated right on the boardwalk and just a few blocks from local attractions like Deno's Wonder Wheel and Luna Park. In the distance beyond the left-field wall, fans can see the team's namesake roller coaster slowly rise and suddenly plunge on its first terrifying drop—and during night games, neon-colored fluorescent rings circling the ballpark's stadium lights are a perfect complement to the carnivalesque setting. The on-field competition of scrappy, hardworking ballplayers harks back to the good ol' days of Brooklyn baseball—as does the intimate setting, where the players on the field can hear what fans yell out from the stands and vice versa. In the grand tradition of the minor leagues, the Cyclones are known for their outlandish promotions. In the past, they've offered free tickets for life to anyone who would agree to name their child Brooklyn or Cy, and their staff has played 24 consecutive hours of baseball—seriously—for charity. In 2010, for example, they built a day around the TV show Jersey Shore (complete with uniforms that looked like Ed Hardy T-shirts, not to mention free hairstyling and dugout dance battles). This year, after struggling themselves to recover after Hurricane Sandy—the field had to be completely replaced—they're staging "Meaningful Mondays," games from which $3 of every ticket purchase will be donated to charities serving communities that were hit hard by the storm. Still, the team hasn't lost its sense of humor—giveaways include a free garden gnome on July 19. If you're heading to the park, look out for the statue of Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese near the main gate—it shows Reese with his arm around Robinson, a famous gesture of solidarity that was most recently re-created in the film 42.