On Thursday, July 2, I went to the new Yankee Stadium for the first time. Overall, I was much more pleased than I originally thought. I had expected much different things from the stadium, and I will describe everything that I saw, and explain all of my opinions.
Let me start off by saying the stadium is absolutely gorgeous. Just from standing outside, you could tell how beautiful the ballpark really is and how much money the Yanks put into it. One little aspect I liked was that the Yankees changed the way of security checks upon entering the stadium. The old way was that there would be a few stations around one area, and you would have to wait in line, and some of the lines got extremely long. Now, the Yankees have many security people spread out over all the entrances, so the lines are extremely short, if at all. There were no lines for security checks on Thursday.
The biggest difference between the old and new stadium is the standing room, and the "comfort level" of the stadium. What I had always said of the old Yankee Stadium was that you really had to want to go see the game, because someone who didn't care for baseball could not relax at the old stadium. Not that it was a dump, just that it was not a comfortable place to be. First of all, the hallways are much wider, with much more room to walk. Also, there are many "open" areas, such as the tables outside of the Mohegan Sun bar in center field, where it is very convenient to eat.
The world is changing rapidly, and this became even more evident to me on Thursday. I got home from my summer job (at about 4:00) and asked my dad if we could get some tickets to the Yankee game tonight. Thankfully, he agreed, and 20 minutes and $50 later, (what a bargain) he had tickets to the game. Our seats were in the bleachers, and I have to say, it was possibly the most enjoyable experience of my life. I had a great view of the game, I was right next to the Yankees bullpen, and a few drunk Yankee fans can make any evening enjoyable.
One thing happened on Thursday that I will never forget. Just as C.C. Sabathia was finishing his warm up tosses in the outfield and heading into the bullpen for a final bullpen session, many fans were calling for catcher Francisco Cervelli to throw the ball into the bleachers, as a courtesy. Thankfully, being the good sport he is, Cervelli tossed the ball into the stands, and after a few crazy bounces, the ball somehow ended up in my hands. It was an experience I will never forget and something that I will always be proud of.
Those were all of the positives. Now, I want to bring up some of the negatives.
As you are probably well aware of, the Yankees, especially in recent years, have been increasing their ticket prices. In 2009, for the new stadium, the Yankees went completely overboard, charging an insanely high $2500 per seat behind the plate. When the Yankees finally came to the conclusion that even the wealthiest, most dedicated fans weren't paying the money to buy those tickets, they lowered those ticket prices, to an extremely reasonable (sarcasm) $1250.
This leads me right into my next point of the Yankees having a problem with the words "fan friendly." The Yankees are known to be incredibly strict with letting fans down to the dugout area, and that is something that won't change. In fact, now it is literally impossible. In the old stadium, like the new stadium, you were not allowed to go down to the dugout area. Both stadiums had the lower deck split into two parts. There is the upper part and the lower part.
Even if you were sitting in the upper part of the lower deck, you were not permitted to go down to the lower part, because they would only let people who sat in that area to be in that area. To make sure that this was enforced, security guards would check ticket identification. Now, the Yankees have taken this to a whole new level. In addition to ticket identification, there is a "moat" which consists of a large wall and a staircase that separates the lower and upper sections of the lower deck.
Though this might sound comical, I do want to highly criticize the food. At first, I ordered the Chicken Fingers and Fries at Johnny Rockets, which cost $10.50. I did think that was a little overpriced, but figured that they probably gave a lot of food. What did I get? Three miniature pieces of luke warm chicken and 17 (I counted them out) french fries. That is almost as disastrous as the Mets collapse in 2007.
Then, later, since that didn't fill me up, I went back to Johnny Rockets (which was a mistake) and ordered a burger and fries. Fries do not come with the burger, so I had to pay separately, and it totaled to $15. The burger was gross. The cheese was disgusting, and the tomato was probably rotten. And later, I would go back and get Carvel Ice Cream (which they didn't manage to screw up) which cost $5.50.
In addition, I bought two souvenir sodas, which cost $12 in total. So, in total, for a burger, fries, chicken and fries, two sodas, (in all fairness, they were huge sodas) and an ice cream, I paid the incredible price of $43. And according to the Yankees, (of course they would never flat out say this) this is the cheap crappy food. The good food is the food at the new steakhouses and gourmet food places at the stadium. That in my mind takes away the essence of a baseball game. It's about kicking back and having fun, not about spending nearly $50 on food that is terrible.
My last criticism is about the atmosphere of the ballpark. The ballpark is absolutely beautiful, and, as crazy as this sounds, I think that could be part of the problem.
While walking through the halls of Yankee Stadium, I saw numerous fancy food venues, high end stores and many more things. There was even an art store at the stadium. As I walked through the halls, I didn't feel like I was in a ballpark. I honestly felt as if I was in a museum.
In a way, I felt like I was in a Yankee Memorial Museum, that had numerous gift shops, many restaurants, and it happened to have a baseball field. The Yankees have eliminated the desire of watching baseball at a baseball game and have put elements such as food and luxury above it. To me, it is despicable how the Yankees can be poisoning the game like this.
When you think of a baseball game, what comes to your mind? Taking the family out to a game, sitting up in the grandstands, a hot dog with mustard and a cold beer. Do you think of spending $10,000 to take a family of four to a baseball game? Do you think of spending $300 on food, and hundreds more on possible souvenirs? I saw in the Steiner Sports store, they were selling old Yankee Stadium dirt.
Honestly, is that really necessary? Even as a big Yankee fan, I don't see the need to have Yankee Stadium dirt. It is the mere idea of trying to sell dirt that makes me think about what the Yankees are doing to the game.
Overall, I had a wonderful time at Yankee Stadium. The stadium was georgeous, and I will always remember Thursday because of the ball I caught. Still, I can't stand what the Steinbrenners are doing to the game of baseball. The essence of a baseball game is ruined with all of this gourmet food and $2500 seating. ($2500, $1250, does it really make a difference?) I won't succumb to any of these things that Yankee Stadium has to offer. I'm sticking with the hot dog. But apparently, the hot dog is overpriced and tastes awful.