In 2001, the Brooklyn Cyclones of the Single-A NY Penn League returned professional baseball to the borough for the first time since the Brooklyn Dodgers left after the 1957 season. The return of baseball was met with excitement, enthusiasm and nostalgia for the numerous hardball faithful. It was also a relocation of a Single-A franchise into New York City, a far cry from the small towns of Batavia, Auburn, and Jamestown in New York State.
However, the Cyclones have been a major success and are annual leaders in attendance in the league. Perhaps, its success is due to the wonderful ballpark where fun is mandatory to all patrons who purchase a ticket to a game.
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There are a lot of great regional and carnival-like dishes served at MCU Park that include Nathan's Famous hot dogs. Altogether, there are four main concession stands, five beer stands and two barbecue stands on the main concourse. What would a baseball game in New York be without a knish, fried dough, sausage sandwiches and loaded French fries?
Other food options include barbecue pork, chicken tenders, nachos, corn dogs and chicken sandwiches. There are also kosher and healthy food options located at individual stands.
If you are looking for something sweet, enjoy ice cream from Carvel. The prices are reasonable and will not hamper your wallet, as long as you go easy on the second helpings of knishes. The smell of hot dogs cooking on the grill is mouth watering and one should choose wisely, since there are an abundance of good food options at MCU Park.
There is a certain aspect of attending a Brooklyn Cyclones game that separates it apart from many other minor league ballparks. The setting apathetically reminds you of what part of the country you are in. The influence of Astroland Amusement Park paints the ballpark's signature carnival look. The abandoned parachute ride serves as a decoration behind the right field area, and is a signature staple of the Cyclones.
The colors of blue, red and yellow are everywhere from the lights that circle the stadium's lighting, the wigwam roofs down the baselines or the neon lights that hang above the main concession area. The scoreboard also features a mini roller coaster with innings lighting up in red.
The boardwalk makes up the right field concourse and leads patrons out to the beach where one gets the fresh scent of sea water and hears the sounds of seagulls flying high above them from the outfield bleachers, which sit directly in front of beach goers during the summer months.
Then again, it could be the amount of merchandise the team sells at the concession stand that features almost anything fit for a Cyclones logo for men, women and children. It might even be the two mascots (Sandy the Seagull and Pee-Wee), the Beach Bum dance team or the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Race that pits ketchup, mustard and relish against one another to the delight of cheering fans.
In one word: Fun. There is a bountiful amount of fun here at MCU Park. The baseball is number one, but so are the food, the sights, the sound, and the promotions on the field.
Some people say that Brooklyn is the best borough of the city for its diversity, cuisine and eccentric attitude towards life. They may not be far off, since the area is definitely an interesting mix of what makes the city so good. MCU Park is located in Coney Island next to the original Nathan's Famous hot dog stand. This place is iconic and the hot dogs taste a little bit better here, as do the burgers, chicken sandwiches, crinkled cut fries and clam strips.
I may be a little biased since I grew up a New York Mets fan and this is their short-season Single-A franchise, but when I am at the game, I am surrounded by my kind of people. However, if you are not from the area, the Brooklynites that attend the game are among the best of the bunch of spectators that you'll come across.
Every year since the team's inception, they have been packing in the ballpark and leading the NYPL in attendance figures. They have baseball in their blood and the National League style of play has been embedded in their blood from their fathers and grandfathers who once rooted for the Dodgers.
There are various ways to arrive at MCU Park and I envy the folks who live in Brooklyn who can simply hop on a subway train and arrive to the game. Heck, I even envy the rest of the New Yorkers living in the other four boroughs that can enjoy the fast and efficient access by subway travel. However, the Cyclones did not forget about the commuters, who have the opportunity to park for only $5 in the Coney Island One Parking lot up to 2 hours prior to the game. It is the best price to park for a professional game in any part of the city.
There is street parking and it can be free on certain days and times, but do yourself a favor and park in the lot. Unfortunately, team management has no control over the tolls you must endure when traveling on the Verrazano Bridge from Staten Island or the Goethals or Outerbridge from New Jersey.
The Cyclones have created a batch of out of the box ideas with ticket promotions that are the envy of minor league baseball and local New York professional baseball. First, for home Sunday games, fans can purchase a $20 ticket that includes a hot dog, chips, drink and specially designed t-shirt. They have to be ordered in groups of two, but I am sure you can find a friend to tag along with you.
On Wednesday, all tickets are just $10 to any section of the ballpark - definitely the best night to come to the park if you are on a budget.
On Thursdays the team gives away replica jerseys to the first 3,000 fans and there are fireworks on Friday and Saturday nights. However, if you happen to find yourself in Brooklyn and just want to purchase a single game ticket, they start at $10 for bleacher seating and top out at $16 for reserved seats. It's a bargain by New York standards, and well worth the price.
MCU Park is a very eclectic facility and one that is a true original in the world of minor league baseball. The moment you set foot inside the stadium, your eyes discover a myriad of colors, flavors and sounds that are uniquely Brooklyn. There are more than enough promotional dates to plan a visit and management seems to understand the spirit of the game, which is to simply have a lot of fun at the ballpark.
Located right in the midst of historic Coney Island, MCU Ballpark, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, retains the carnival atmosphere of its surrounding environs, but provides a fun, safe, family atmosphere not found elsewhere in the still-slightly-seedy Coney Island area.
The ballpark is currently in its 10th season of existence, and was built on the site of the former Steeplechase Park, which was the center of the Coney Island amusement park complex until it closed in 1964.
By accident rather than design, we ended up attending a Cyclones game on a night where the stadium promotion was dubbed "Jersey Shore Night". Upon entry to the ballpark, we were given Cyclones jerseys that said "Jersey? Sure!" on the back of them. Between inning entertainment was hosted by a fellow who appeared to have stepped right out of MTV's Seaside Heights, New Jersey-based reality show.
This captures the essence of attending a Cyclones game in general - the environment there is fun and festive, but not particularly focused on baseball. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience of going to a game at MCU park, though it was clear that the game on the field wasn't the primary focus of most of our fellow fans.
Still, everyone at the game appeared to be having a fantastic time. MCU Ballpark, overall, offers an opportunity to have a lot of fun in a truly beautiful ballpark which clearly prioritizes the way it treats its fans. It's a bit of a circus, to be sure, but if you watch carefully, you might even catch a little baseball amid the carnival-like antics.
With the imposing frame of the historic Cyclone roller coaster looming in the distance, Coney Island's MCU Park has served as the home of the New York Mets Single-A affiliate Brooklyn Cyclones for the past decade.
Though Coney Island is notorious for some interesting characters, the Cyclones have provided a fun family atmosphere centered around America's pastime.
There's a ton of great history in the Coney Island area, and the young Mets prospects attempt to write their own chapters every summer night.
The Brooklyn Dodgers were once the talk of the town in Kings County, but when the team moved to Los Angeles in 1957, Brooklyn was left with a major baseball void.
However, the Cyclones have filled that void and will continue to provide affordable entertainment to the thousands of fans who attend games each year.
Like many minor league parks these days, the fans come more for the entertainment value than to watch baseball. In fact, many of the fans are unfamiliar with any of the players.
The Mets have done a great job however in bringing back former Major Leaguers to coach the team. Mookie Wilson and Wally Backman have served as managers, and Frank Viola is the current pitching coach. These former players graciously interact with fans, which adds to the overall experience.
The "Cyclones are Brooklyn," and everyone seems to be one big family at the ballpark.
Food might be good but it is way overpriced for this level of ball. The atmosphere is far noisier than it need be, with every strikeout a chance to plug a local mall. The PA announcer is constantly spouting ads, so much so that he announces the batters after they have seen a pitch. The on field promotions are over the top too. Yeah, it is in the middle of Coney Island, but give it a rest already. Season ticket holders here must go crazy or deaf. Had a camera stolen here once too, so the fans are not the best as far as I am concerned. Watch your valuables.
It was camp day so access was limited, and entryways were jammed with kids. The place is nearly an hour from Manhattan on the train, not bad but not as convenient as the park in Staten Island. If you like loud and brash, this is the place for you.
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