FLUSHING — The New York Mets dramatically cut security staff at Citi Field in recent years despite concerns the moves would lead to increased response times for emergencies and fights as well as longer wait times at ticket gates, internal documents show.
Budget cuts between 2009 and 2013 led management to pare down the number of security guards, security supervisors and NYPD officers during home games by roughly 29 percent, according to the documents.
The average number of security guards at a game decreased from 186 in 2009 to about 130 in 2013, the documents show. During that period, the average number of security supervisors at a game shrunk from 43 to 34, and the average number of NYPD officers dropped from 16 to 10.
“Due to the cut backs in the budget (2013) we will be unable to maintain the high quality of security that the ballplayers, guests and staff are accustom (sic) to,” a budget report reads. “In addition the greetings at the gates, exchange of pleasantries at the gates and along with the quailty (sic) of the seaching (sic) at the gates will be reduced.”
The budget report was part of an exhibit in a legal filing from earlier this month by the ballpark’s former director of event staff and five security supervisors, who were all fired at the end of the 2013 season.
The axed event staff director, Bruce Smith, prepared the budget report for Robert Kasdon, the Mets vice president of security, according the legal filing. Smith oversaw security personnel and payroll.
The report points out in bullet form the repercussions of fewer security guards. It warns that “response time will be up,” that there will be “more alleracations (sic) with fans,” “more lawsuits,” “more complaints about service,” and that “searches will have to be cut back on to get fans in.”
The cuts also meant key sections of Citi Field would have fewer guards — and some would be completely unsupervised, according to the report.
“Beer garden cut one post which means one of the seating areas above the bullpens will be uncovered,” the report warns.
“Last year the the (sic) kids zone post was cut, where we are always getting calls there about adults staring at the kids,” the report adds. “Any additional cuts will leave the smoking area uncovered which is a big area for fights.”
The report claims the decreased staffing could even affect the Mets’ players.
“Field level right side cut one post which means there will be nobody covering the right outfield, any additional cuts will leave the Mets dugout-Mets wives, or the Taste of the City [section] uncovered where the fans leave without paying for food,” the report says.
The Mets, whose home opener this year is April 13, did not respond to a request for comment.
The club has reportedly suffered from drops in revenue and attendance in recent years.
In a March 30, 2014, article, Newsday reported that the team’s revenue decreased from $180.4 million in 2009 to $119.2 million in 2013. However, a Mets executive told Newsday that he expected revenue to improve in 2014. And total attendance at the ballpark rose last year for the first time since 2009.
Documents in the court filing show that from 2009 to 2013, Queens Ballpark Co. — the Mets subsidiary that oversees operations and staffing at Citi Field — cut the security staff budget from $4.1 million to about $2.1 million.
During the 2013 season, about 120 security guards would work weekday games while about 125 would work weekend games, according to the documents.
While only 10 police officers would work at most games, more would be hired when the Mets played the Yankees, according to the documents. The Flushing ballpark would also increase the number of security guards and security supervisors for games against the Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies, the documents show.
Smith and former Citi Field security supervisors John Carlino, Christine Deveau, Kimberly Manz-Smith, John McMahon and John Shatinsky made the legal filing to ask a judge to overturn a Jan. 14, 2015, decision by the state Division of Human Rights.
Last summer, Smith, Carlino, McMahon and Shatinksy filed complaints with the Human Rights Division, claiming Queens Ballpark fired them because of their age. Manz-Smith, who is married to Bruce Smith, and Deveau filed similar complaints with the state agency, accusing Queens Ballpark of firing them because they were women.
Queens Ballpark countered in a September 2014 response that none of the employees were fired due to age or sex discrimination.
The company said Smith was terminated after an internal investigation found he had altered time cards for himself, his wife and Deveau.
"Mr. Smith held a position within the organization that required the highest level of trust and honesty," Queens Ballpark wrote in its response. "Simply put, his job was to help keep Citi Field and its millions of customers and thousands of workers safe and secure — a position requiring utmost trustworthiness — and the organization could no longer rely on him."
The others were terminated because of their close ties to Smith, Queens Ballpark said in its response.
The Human Rights Division sided with the Mets subsidiary.
But in their recent legal filing, Smith and the five security supervisors said that in its decisions, the Human Rights Division relied on payroll sheets from Queens Ballpark that inappropriately inflated the number of female security supervisors and the number of security supervisors over the age of 40.
Smith declined to discuss his case, but his legal filing notes that management repeatedly praised him for his work over the past few years — even up until he was let go.
Frederick Brewington, a lawyer for the six fired employees, declined to comment on the case.
"The papers speak for themselves," he said.