Some thoughts on the new stadium

My friend Eric took his first visit to the new Yankee Stadium on Sunday and agreed to do a write-up for me (since I have yet to go, though I probably will soon).  Here’s what he has to say:

Went to the new stadium yesterday for the Yanks-Twins game. Overall I was very impressed. The stadium is a beautiful structure and a very worthy successor to the House That Ruth Built. I think that only a die-hard sentimentalist would not view it as a significant improvement. The first thing that struck me walking in was the open feel of the main concourse – much lighter, brighter and airier than the old park. Definitely a more welcoming feel.

I had great seats (got them through work): field level, row 12 – just inside the infield dirt, and the first non- “legends” row in our section. (Face value was 225.). Because we had those good seats and didn’t get there very early, we didn’t see as much of the stadium as we otherwise would have; our section was pretty close to the gate through which we entered.

The place looked great from where we were sitting. The stadium seemed to have a more vertical look from the inside compared to the old one. It took me a little while to get used to the new scoreboards – lots of flashing light etc., a little distracting when trying to look up and see the pitch count. (Obviously that is a very minor point, and, yes, I should just remember the pitch count in the first place.). One of the most noticeable differences was the new layout for the bleachers. Looks like the right field bleachers in particular are now much farther away from the field, which is too bad. But on the whole, the layout of the new stadium didn’t seem all that different, just a cleaner, updated version of the old one.

The new stadium is widely viewed as a monument to excess. Not having been in a luxury suite or one of the restaurants, I guess I didn’t get the full perspective on that. From where I sat, it is just a very nice, modern, clean ballpark. What I saw was not over the top. Personally, I do think it a bit silly that you can order sushi, knob creek, or a pinot grigio from your seat. I know that rubs some people the wrong way, and its not really what I associate with a day at the ballpark. Still, this is New York after all: you can’t be too surprised at quasi-pretentious touches like that. And anyone who doesn’t want to be handling chopsticks during “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is free to opt for a hotdog and a Bud, as I did.

On the high-end/luxury issue, there were tons of empty field level seats, especially in the Legends area. They’ll fill up eventually. It is an unfortunate sight, and it does look like a misstep on the part of the team to have brought an expensive luxury product to market in the teeth of a brutal recession. In the end, it’s bad timing, but the situation is temporary. Eventually, the economy will improve, those seats will sell, and all the current handwringing will be forgotten. (Also, it’s still only May; ticket sales will pick up later in the season.)

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