Pirates Notebook: Mets' stadium inspired by PNC

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NEW YORK -- On the outside, the New York Mets' new home, Citi Field, is patterned after Brooklyn's old Ebbetts Field with its classic brick facade and towering arches.

On the inside ...

"Reminds me lot of Pittsburgh," Pirates reliever John Grabow said.

That is no accident. Jeff Wilpon, the Mets' CEO, toured more than a dozen of Major League Baseball's new stadiums in planning Citi Field, and he made no secret that he liked PNC Park best. He set a goal of "super-sizing Pittsburgh," as he put it, and the designers achieved that largely through the intimate feel of a 41,800 capacity -- about 13,000 less than old Shea Stadium -- and, most striking in its similarity, all the exposed blue steel in arched form.

"We like to think of this as the fan's ballpark, and that's what you have in Pittsburgh," Wilpon said in an interview with the Post-Gazette last night. "Yours is more open because of the great views, which is one reason we closed ours off, but we wanted this to be about the fan, about the room they have on the concourses, about the special places to watch the game."

One is a 75-foot wide steel bridge frame over center field, through which fans can walk.

"You'll see that area go five, six people deep during the game because it's the place to be, kind of like the rotunda in Pittsburgh," Wilpon said.

Wilpon said the steel was exposed partly to symbolize New York's bridges to its five boroughs,partly because he liked the effect at PNC.

"I have a construction background, and I believe in showing the strength of the building. That really impressed me in Pittsburgh."

The Mets have a rotunda, too, though not open to the field. It is the home-plate entrance, and it is a majectic, six-story structure that celebrates Brooklyn legend Jackie Robinson's career on its circular walls.

The place seemed plenty popular with the Pirates' players.

"You can see some similarities to ours, and I think ours is the best," center fielder Nate McLouth said. "But this is one of the nicest new parks. Really nice."

"It's awesome," left fielder Nyjer Morgan said.

Pirates owner Bob Nutting is expected to visit today for a tour.

Capps could be delayed

Closer Matt Capps, out because of a bruised bone in his right elbow, threw off flat ground for a second consecutive day and will have a full bullpen session this morning. If all goes well, he could be cleared to pitch today.

But manager John Russell also strongly suggested the Pirates might wait until Tuesday to use him. The team is off Monday, which would buy Capps an extra day to recover.

Buried treasure

• Shortstop Jack Wilson began his rehabilitation assignment with Class AAA Indianapolis last night in Syracuse, N.Y. He is expected to play four games, then rejoin the Pirates Tuesday.

• Reliever Craig Hansen has no structural damage in his upper back, tests taken Wednesday in Pittsburgh showed, but still is not feeling strong in the area. He will have a light throwing session this morning.

• Mets manager Jerry Manuel said he expects to use right-handed Gary Sheffield and Fernando Tatis against left-hander Paul Maholm this afternoon.

Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com . Catch more on the Pirates and join the discussion at the PBC Blog .


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