Sean Hartnett laments about the new Yankee Stadium -
And that’s exactly why I’ve never entirely fallen in love with the new ballpark. When viewing it from the outside you are overcome by the impressive original design that is a throwback to the days of Babe Ruth. Once you turn the corner though, you gaze upon the Hard Rock Café which looks entirely out of place. It’s almost like the building is going through an identity crisis on whether to be a historic landmark or a kitschy tourist trap.
Once you’re inside, the stadium becomes even more contradictory with itself. I enjoy viewing the large banners of past Yankee legends and the shot of Reggie Jackson inside the Great Hall but right above Reggie is the Tommy Bahama Bar. Similar to the Hard Rock, I don’t like seeing another resort-type distraction on the way to my seats and what are we trying to get away from? We’re at a ballpark where you should be able to forget about your troubles anyway.
Passing by the various suites, you’re struck with the unwelcome feeling of class hierarchy that exists throughout the stadium. None worse so than the Legends Suite seating that separates your ‘average Joe fans’ from privileged high society via a ‘concrete moat.’ Even kids hunting for autographs and foul balls are turned away by guards (I’m sorry stadium security) if they don’t possess tickets within the field sections. It’s a shame that your regular kid won’t have the chance to chat with one of their heroes pre-game, a shot at a foul ball or come away with a prized autograph. These were experiences that I took for granted as a boy at the old stadium.
As for a franchise that is obsessed with their own history, there is an embarrassment of replaying modern day Yankee classics with empty seats in the lower section. The clientele that are lucky enough to sit there prefer to hang out inside the indoor club and lounges. Wouldn’t it be nice to open up the unclaimed front row seats for fans after the 7th inning? It would save public face and allow average fans a more enjoyable experience.
The whole centerfield situation is what really hinders the new stadium most. Adding to the obstructed seats and shrunken Monument Park is the monstrous 5,925 square foot, 1080p HD scoreboard. Is it a beautiful screen? Yes… but maybe too beautiful as it’s too distracting for first-time visitors and diverts fans from the interesting moments between pitches.
That combined with the loud noise constantly being pumped throughout the stadium doesn’t allow fans to generate an atmosphere of their own. The message board continually prompts you to ‘do this, cheer for this, look at this.’ It’s little wonder why the Yankee Stadium crowd is listless compared to the fans at Citi Field who attempt to create their own colorful ambiance.
I remember the feeling when I first entered old Yankee Stadium as a 7-year old boy in 1992. We may hold memories of our childhood with heavy nostalgia but there was a real aura about that place. The Yankees weren’t a winning ballclub at that time but the fans were lively and into the game. There was a charm there that somehow didn’t make its way across the street to the new stadium.
At the age of seventeen, I first became a Yankees’ partial season ticket plan holder in 2002. I continue to renew my plan but now I come more for the product on the field rather than the ballpark experience itself. It should be an equal ratio as baseball is the kind of sport where the venue genuinely matters.
Me? I’m warming up to the new Stadium.
It’s not the old place – never will be the old place. Different fans below the upper-deck (thanks to ticket prices). Different crowd feel (thanks to the new layout of the seats – with the non-field level seats further from the field).
Why is it growing on me? Maybe it’s because my kids are really into the new Stadium? After all, this is “their” Stadium – just like the last one was “my” Stadium and the first one was my father’s Stadium.
How about you? Like the new digs? As much as the old one? More, less?