• Torn Over The New Yankee Stadium

    Posted by on February 24th, 2009 · Comments (18)

    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.

    Well, sorta/kinda.

    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?

    Comments on Torn Over The New Yankee Stadium

    1. MJ
      February 25th, 2009 | 8:22 am

      I hope that the new Stadium fails, and falls flat on its face. How about you? What are you thoughts about the new Yankee Stadium and what’s going on there now?
      ———-
      Not me. I hope the new ballpark is a smashing success. While I am definitely sorry to hear about all the folks that have had a bad experience with the relocation plan, I also realize that this is the experience of every fan in every city, regardless of the sport. A new stadium automatically means a transition period for a number of people. Loyal, long-time customers are bound to get shafted and it’s not pretty. But rooting for the failure of the new stadium would be counterproductive to the team’s long-term success and I’ll never do that.

    2. YankCrank
      February 25th, 2009 | 9:04 am

      I hope that the new Stadium fails, and falls flat on its face.
      ——-

      I’d disagree. Personally, I only get to make 3-4 trips to the Stadium a year because of the cost of what it takes to get in there and enjoy yourself. For a long time now, I’ve already labeled Yankee Stadium, the old one, as a place only the elite can really afford to get into as much as they’d like. That obviously won;t change with the new Stadium. That, and the more money they make the better players we can afford and i’m a huge fan of that. I’d gladly sacrifice a couple trips to the Stadium a year just so they can afford to pick up Tex’s and CC’s. That’s just me though, i’m sure many would disagree.

    3. February 25th, 2009 | 9:30 am

      [...] Jaffe of course isn’t alone. As The Hartford Courant and Newsday explore today, many Yankee fans are feeling slighted by this move, and it’s making even the hardened among us wonder if we should root for this so-called “Stadium Experience” to fail. [...]

    4. MJ
      February 25th, 2009 | 9:52 am

      For a long time now, I’ve already labeled Yankee Stadium, the old one, as a place only the elite can really afford to get into as much as they’d like.
      ——–
      I agree. We’re romanticizing the “old days” where fans were treated well because of what’s going on with the new stadium. In all candor, it’s not like the Yankee Stadium experience of the past decade was really all that populist in nature. You couldn’t get into the lower field level seats because there was a guard at every aisle, ticket prices were rising dramatically every season, etc.

      The Yankee Stadium of the “average joe” was already fading when I was in high school (’90-’93), and that was back when the stadium was barely half-full.

    5. Raf
      February 25th, 2009 | 10:11 am

      The Yankee Stadium of the “average joe” was already fading when I was in high school (’90-’93), and that was back when the stadium was barely half-full.
      —————-
      Yes, it was fading then, and I’d say it was probably done by the late 90′s.

    6. YankCrank
      February 25th, 2009 | 10:27 am

      The Yankee Stadium of the “average joe” was already fading when I was in high school (’90-’93), and that was back when the stadium was barely half-full.
      —————-
      Yes, it was fading then, and I’d say it was probably done by the late 90’s.
      ——

      I never really got to experience the freedom of going to the “average joe” stadium on a regular basis. When I was a kid I remember going to Yankee games when it was half empty, Donny even hit two home runs in my first game there ever, but when I was old enough to go to the stadium freely they were already in full dynasty mode. I’m kinda jealous you guys had a chance to go and get cool seats for a reasonable price.

    7. MJ
      February 25th, 2009 | 10:36 am

      I’m kinda jealous you guys had a chance to go and get cool seats for a reasonable price.
      —-
      It’s just because I’m older, that’s all. 20 years from now, someone else will be jealous that you got to see Jeter and A-Rod in their primes, the way we’re all jealous of the folks that got to see Mickey and Yogi in the ’50′s and ’60′s.

      I won’t lie, though. It’s a nice memory I have of going to the ballpark on the morning of a game and knowing that $20 would get me the best seat in an empty house.

    8. YankCrank
      February 25th, 2009 | 10:38 am

      I won’t lie, though. It’s a nice memory I have of going to the ballpark on the morning of a game and knowing that $20 would get me the best seat in an empty house.
      —–

      I have the same memories for the Hartford Whalers! That will be the first, and last time I refer to the Whalers here so no worries.

    9. February 25th, 2009 | 10:48 am

      The one who really gets squeezed in the new Yankee stadium is the family of four or more. When I was a kid, my family, the four of us, used to go to several games a year. It was fun and affordable, etc.

      Now, today, if you want to bring a family of four to a Yankees game, and have semi-decent seats, you’re looking at $300-$400 for the tickets alone. (Maybe more.) Throw in parking, food, etc., and you’re looking at a $500 day – at the minimum – maybe closer to $600…

      So, if you want to take your family of four to a Yankees game, say, once a month, you’re looking at $3,000 of your disposable income. What’s that grossed-up, something like four grand?

      How many families out there can afford to take $4,000 of their annual salary to attend SIX baseball games in a season? These days, not many…

      Of course, the Yankees answer to this is: Sit in the upper-upper deck, out in the outfield, or, sit in the bleachers, and it will be cheaper, etc.

      But, for a mom and dad with two little kids, that’s not the best deal in the world…

      Maybe I’m just a crank, but, I think that a baseball game should be priced where a family of four can go to 5 or 6 games a year, get decent seats, and not have to spend several thousand dollars in the process. Of course, your mileage may differ…as the Yankees seems to…on this one.

    10. Raf
      February 25th, 2009 | 10:48 am

      I won’t lie, though. It’s a nice memory I have of going to the ballpark on the morning of a game and knowing that $20 would get me the best seat in an empty house.
      —————-
      Yep. In 92, I picked up tickets to Yanks-Jays, Cone-Perez, shortly before the game started. Sat right under the net.

    11. Raf
      February 25th, 2009 | 10:49 am

      But, for a mom and dad with two little kids, that’s not the best deal in the world…
      ———
      Which is why the minors saw an uptick in attendance.

    12. February 25th, 2009 | 11:10 am

      Last year I sat in Tier MVP 5 for around $27 a seat. Up in the clouds, but great angle of the whole park.

      This year I haven’t even heard back after submitting my preferences. Still processing, they say. A friend who sat a row behind me got offered left-field bleacher seats, traditionally the worst in the house.

      I wonder what percentage of the 51,000 people on a given night will be happy where they’re sitting and at the price they paid. And I wonder if that percentage is something the Yankees will deem a success rate, and if they care at all.

      This season is going to put to the test a lot of people’s fandom vs. dignity. There are parts of the stadium where I’d be happy to sit for a certain price. And other places at other prices that I could not justify as a rational man.

    13. MJ
      February 25th, 2009 | 11:35 am

      This season is going to put to the test a lot of people’s fandom vs. dignity.
      ——-
      I’m not sure I believe that. If the Yanks are winning, grumbling fans will be drowned out by the people standing behind them who want to buy their tickets.

    14. February 25th, 2009 | 11:37 am

      Fans or bandwagon jumpers? (Standing behind them)

    15. MJ
      February 25th, 2009 | 12:07 pm

      Fans or bandwagon jumpers? (Standing behind them)
      —–
      There’s no difference. To you and I they might be bandwagoneers but they’re fans nonetheless. Any paying customer that self-identifies as a fan, even if they’re new to the team and only drawn in because the team is winning is still a fan.

    16. Raf
      February 25th, 2009 | 12:38 pm

      There’s no difference.
      —–
      Correct, their $$ is just as green… Besides, if the game catered to the hardcore fan, it wouldn’t be as big as it is today.

    17. February 27th, 2009 | 12:07 am

      [...] Matsui Works His Way Back, With Little Fanfare  / Torn Over The NYS [...]

    18. lisaswan
      February 27th, 2009 | 6:22 pm

      Steve, I wrote a Subway Squawkers blog entry today about the ticket debacle, and referenced your post:

      http://subwaysquawkers.blogspot.com/2009/02/is-20-for-standing-room-tickets.html

      What’s even more outrageous to me than the obstructed view seats is the fact that the new stadium is going to have standing room non-seats for over $20 a head. Unreal.

    Leave a reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.