Get ready for rainbows and Chick-fil-A at Citi Field.
Just weeks before hosting Pride Night on August 10, the Mets plastered prominent ads at Citi Field featuring the anti-LGBTQ fast food chain Chick-fil-A, which has spent years donating millions of dollars to homophobic politicians and organizations while emerging as a champion of the far right in the Trump era. The Mets also offer free Chick-fil-A food to fans whenever the team scores more than five runs or when a batter hits a homer off the foul pole.
The team installed the bulky ads in mid-July on each foul pole, infuriating fans in more ways than one: Many have expressed outrage over the team’s willingness to embrace a bigoted fast food chain and others are upset that the ads obstruct views in the left field and right field seats at Citi Field.
Twitter user Chuck G wrote, “This is New York, how about you don’t take money from homophobic bigots like @ChickfilA #TakeItDown,” while Mets fan Michelle Ioannou tweeted a photo of the new foul pole blocking views of the field and noted that she couldn’t see Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard. She asked, “Where is Syndergaard?”
Chick-fil-A’s ties to the dark corners of the anti-LGBTQ right have not gone under the radar. The fast food chain most recently hit the spotlight in Texas, where Republican Governor Greg Abbott on July 18 surrounded himself with Chick-fil-A food and cups as he signed a state bill dubbed “Save Chick-fil-A,” which bans government entities from taking “adverse actions” against businesses due to their religious beliefs or morals — a clear shot at those who are upset with the organization’s anti-LGBTQ ties.
Even more relevant to the Chick-fil-A’s targeting of sports stadiums like Citi Field is the fast food giant’s tendency to allocate resources to conservative corners of the sports world. In 2017 alone, the Chick-fil-A Foundation donated a whopping $1.6 million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), which directs staffers, student leaders, and others to sign a “Sexual Purity Statement” stating, “The Bible is clear in teaching on sexual sin including sex outside of marriage” and that “homosexual acts” do not “constitute an alternative lifestyle acceptable to God.” The FCA’s “Statement of Faith” on its website currently states, “We believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.”
Locally, the chain has caught the attention of transphobic Republican Staten Island City Councilmember Joe Borelli, who once went on Kevin McCullough’s AM970 radio show and said boycotts against Chick-fil-A represent “faux outrage of the left” and that people should “eat whatever delicious sandwich you want.” The Yankees’ minor league affiliate in that borough, the Staten Island Yankees, also announced a season-long partnership with Chick-fil-A earlier this year.
In a written statement, a Mets spokesperson did not directly respond to questions about why the team would forge a new — and very visible — partnership with an anti-LGBTQ company while simultaneously claiming to support LGBTQ rights.
“Our organization’s position on inclusivity is very clear and we’ve been leaders with the LGBTQ community and proud to welcome all fans to the ballpark and additionally promote diversity with our annual Pride Night at Citi Field,” the team said.
While the team refuses to budge on its ties to Chick-fil-A, the Mets are simultaneously keeping Pride Night on the bottom of their list of priorities. The ticket page on the Mets.com lists a free “Hawaiian shirt” as the promotion on August 10 and makes no mention of Pride Night slated for that same evening. Instead of a broader marketing push, LGBTQ fans are specifically targeted through paid social media advertisements asking fans to purchase tickets for Pride Night. That approach was an issue last year when the Mets heavily advertised a bobblehead giveaway but barely gave Pride Night a mention.
Regardless of Chick-fil-A’s presence at the stadium, Pride Night festivities will include “festive pregame programming” outside of Citi Field. Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets via a discounted offer and a portion of proceeds from those tickets will be allocated to the Queens and Long Island-based LGBT Network.