There’s been a few features in the news lately about Yankees fans being upset over their ticket options for the new Yankee Stadium. (Yes, I got lucky with my Stadium relo-results. But, being a 81-game package holder for the eight years prior to the new Stadium opening probably had something to do with that.)
Most recently, Jay Jaffe from Baseball Prospectus rang in on this issue. Here’s a few highlights of what Jaffe had to say:
Eleven years ago, I banded together with four of my friends and bought a Yankees partial season-ticket package which gave us a pair of tickets to 15 games of our choice. We were instantly rewarded with the opportunity to frequent a once-in-a-generation ballclub, the 1998 Yankees. Expanding our plan to three seats the following year, we were fortunate enough to attend the World Series clincher, the kind of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that the vast majority of baseball fans never get to experience first-hand.
With an introduction like that, we were hooked. Our ticket package eventually ballooned to 26 games, the cost per ticket tripled, and friends came and went, but we never had a problem assembling a posse willing to spend their hard-earned cash to fill those seats. We witnessed some amazing baseball, even as Yankee Stadium itself devolved into a less hospitable environment thanks to the increasingly heavy-handed security in the years following 9/11.
Sadly, the days of our ticket group appear to be at an end, with our worst fears about the transition to the new Yankee Stadium not only realized, but surpassed beyond our wildest diminished expectations. Not only was our 26-game flex plan phased out in favor of a 20-game “inflexibility plan” with the choice of dates restricted to an every-fourth-home-game cycle, but the $60 Tier Box seats we had enjoyed for so long were recessed about 30 feet further from the field of play, and the overall capacity for the ballpark decreased from 56,936 to 52,325. When the time came to order our 2009 seats, those facts—spelled out for us in a forebodingly titled relocation program that conjured up images of Stalin sending peasants to Siberian gulags—coupled with a concern for finances due to the growing family obligations of group members, led us to choose the $25 Grandstand seats between the bases instead of the $65 or $75 Terrace seats which would have provided the closest equivalent to our former experience.
Instead of being offered our $25 seats, or even anything between the bases, we had been assigned $85 seats in section 107 … right behind the right-field foul pole. Obstructed view, at more than triple the price of what we were prepared to spend. Are you kidding me?
This is hardly the first ugly little fact about the new Yankee Stadium to come to light; tales of the publicly funded new park’s fuzzy math go way back, and any fan of good conscience reckoning with the inconvenient truths about the ballpark had plenty of reason to be uneasy.
Still, even if one could block that all out and simply focus on the relationship between one customer’s wallet and his ability to put his butt in a seat at this new park, the bottom line is that this is an outrage, a disgrace, a catastrophe on the level of Joe Torre summoning Jeff Weaver from the bullpen in Game Four, a Bambino-rolling-in-his-grave nightmare over the successor to the House that Ruth Built.
Now, I don’t really know Jaffe. Yes, some of my friends are his friends. And, yes, I did once exchange some e-mails with him – as far back as 2005. And, to be candid, my only recollection from that contact with Jay was that he came across with a bit of an “ivory tower” attitude. Nonetheless, I find myself being very sympathetic to what Jaffe is writing about here.
Here’s the deal: I’m tragically split in terms of my emotions over the new Yankee Stadium.
On one hand, I cannot wait until the new Yankee Stadium is open for business. I’m sure it’s going to be so nice in there that it’s surreal. I fully expect to walk in there for the first time and immediately go into a rapture state – where I lose control, make happy-time in my own pants, and start hugging everyone that I see, strangers included, as if I just won the lotto and the jackpot was bigger than A-Rod’s contract.
Yet, on the other hand, I hate…and, yes, I know “hate” is a strong word; but, it’s the right word here…really, I just hate what’s going down with respect to the community conversion that’s happening at the new Yankee Stadium. In a nutshell, the Yankees have taken what was an organized hamlet designed for the convergence of Yankees partisans and turned it into an elitist country club featuring a baseball diamond and a Hard Rock Café.
As I wrote back on December 18, 2007:
Thinking about it some more, I’m starting to wonder if Yankee Stadium will become like the Titanic when it set out to sea – with all the rich people staying on top, living the high-life, and all the poor people jammed into the bowels of the ship, crammed in there, huddled, and wondering what it’s like for the affluent folks in the nice parts of the vessel.
And, the more I think about that, the more I hope that the new Stadium fails, and falls flat on its face, and then the Yankees will have to make amends with their fans and bring the Yankee Stadium experience back to what it should be…
…but, sadly, the odds of that happening, right now, are just as likely as the Yankees trading CC Sabathia, and cash, to the Cleveland Indians to reacquire pitcher Carl Pavano. Yeah, it’s not gonna happen – ever.
How about you? What are you thoughts about the new Yankee Stadium and what’s going on there now?