NOHO — As baseball lovers around the Big Apple gear up for the start of the regular season Wednesday, nine fanatics will be spending their days watching every game in a souped up version of MLB's Fan Cave.
The newly redesigned space on Broadway near East 4th Street — where nine selected "cave dwellers" will spend almost every day through the entire baseball season — now features a two-story-tall slide, its own nightclub and a bar with dirt from all 30 MLB ballparks.
In a twist, cave dwellers will gradually be cut from the Fan Cave in a reality TV-style elimination process, but the emphasis will stay on baseball, not drama in the house, said MLB representative Matt Bourne.
"We're looking to celebrate baseball, not the elimination process in the Fan Cave," he said. "We're not going to have video of someone crying in a taxi."
Brooklyn native and Yankees fan Eddie Mata, one of the seven men and two women who began spending nine to 16 hours a day in the three-floor space Monday, said it's a dream come true to spend all day watching baseball in a playground for grownups.
"Being here is like being a kid again," said Mata, a 36-year-old actor and little league instructor who had lived in Los Angeles for the past four years.
"It's like a kid from a AAA league getting called to the big leagues," he said.
The fan cave, which began last year with just two cave dwellers, has 45 TVs this year, up from 20 last year. Lighting used in stadiums is installed overhead.
Shuffleboard, skee balls, video game stations, a wall of Etch A Sketches and a giant game of Scrabble can be found on the first and second floors.
In the basement is diehard cave dweller and Minnesota Twins fan Lindsay Guentzel' favorite part of the building: a nightclub for private parties and events.
"I wish I could stay there all day and have dance parties by myself," the 26-year-old freelance sports reporter, a Minneapolis native, said.
Mata and Guentzel were selected from more than 22,000 people who submitted videos and essays to vie for their place in the Fan Cave. They will watch every game and blog and use social media throughout the baseball season, said Bourne.
The Fan Cave will be open to the public for special events throughout the year and will soon start free tours three times a week, Bourne said.
A concert series in the Fan Cave will begin Wednesday with a 6 p.m. performance by Aaron Lewis of the band Staind and an 8 p.m. show by pop group Far East Movement.
Next in the series are the rock bands The Fray on April 13 at 1 p.m. and Daughtry on April 26 at 6 p.m.
Admission is free and fans are advised to line up early.