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.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
MCU Park offers typical ballpark food at a more reasonable price than Yankee Stadium or Citi Field.
With Coney Island's Nathan's Famous located next door to the stadium, the Cyclones sell delicious hot dogs at all the concession stands. This further adds to the historic feel of the ballpark.
The stadium also has specialty concessions. Just like at Citi Field, MCU Park features hot or sweet Italian sausage and peppers (a personal favorite). Topped off with a hot piece of fried dough covered with powdered sugar, the food at MCU is top notch.
MCU Park is teeming with fan-friendly activities. Most games have a specific theme involving the fans. The Cyclones have hosted "Jersey Shore" night in the past and will be celebrating "Hangover" night later this summer.
"Backwards" night was also a hit, in which all the players' names were announced backwards.
Several times per season, the Cyclones give out bobbleheads of notable figures. Angel Pagan, Ron Darling and even President Barack Obama wearing a Cyclones jersey have all been turned into bobbleheads.
There is usually a giveaway for every game, showing that the organization appreciates the fan support.
Another typical occurrence at the ballpark is for little league baseball and softball players to take the field with the Cyclones for the National Anthem. This also adds to the ballpark's fan-friendly atmosphere.
The stadium has adopted the amusement park feel of the old Luna Park that exists right beyond the left field wall.
The park also borders the Atlantic Ocean, so a cool breeze is typical on a warm summer night.
Once again, the history of Coney Island adds to the ballpark's appeal. In addition to Luna Park, the stadium itself was built on the site of the famous Steeplechase Park. The only remaining structure from the park - the 262 foot tall Parachute Jump - is a symbolic feature of MCU Park.
Baseball is a game known for its history, and these historic landmarks give fans a feel of history at the ballpark.
Almost every game at MCU Park is a sellout. Brooklyn loves its baseball, and the fans come out every night to show their support.
A handful of fans are old Brooklyn Dodgers fans, so it's great to hear the stories of Ebbets Field and "Dem Bums."
While most fans come for the entertainment value and historic aspect of the park, many are tune to the baseball action on the field. The fans (most of whom are Mets fans) enjoy seeing former Mets greats get involved with the team.
Sometimes, a current Met will play a rehab game in Brooklyn, and the team and fans go out of their way to welcome that player.
The ballpark is located right in the heart of Coney Island, so many subway lines pass through the station right near the park.
This is a nice feature since fans from all of the boroughs and even Long Island venture to the stadium.
The area can be crowded at times due to the adjacent amusement park and beach. Driving to the park can be an adventure if you're not familiar with the area, but Cyclones personnel are very friendly and helpful.
Even with the beach right there, there is always ample parking and for only $5.00 during games it is better than the $20 or $30 at the professional stadiums.
A family of four can enjoy the whole ballpark experience for under $100. Tickets range from only $9-$15 each, and even with food and souvenirs, it's still an affordable experience.
Since most games include a free promotion, that further adds to the great value of a Cyclones game.
From someone who does not attend games often, enjoy the local amenities during the day and taking in the game at night would be a great day of inexpensive family fun.
MCU Park was one of the first ballparks to offer a non-stop view of the game action. The open concourse allows dedicated fans to constantly keep an eye on the game even when they're getting food or visiting the Cyclones clubhouse shop.
Overall, the food is great, the fans are great and the atmosphere is great.
Spending the day or night at MCU Park is an integral part of the Coney Island experience and comes highly recommended from someone who has experienced the ballpark dozens of times.
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.
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