I had this text exchange with a friend of mine a few weeks ago, he was obviously in New York and I was hoping that he had a positive take on the ballpark:
Me: How was Yankee Stadium?
Friend: Yankees Stadium was the worst!
Me: That bad, I haven’t heard good things.
Friend: Just weird and blah.
New York City is probably the only city that has ever intimidated me. I don’t know why, it just does. I have driven around the city a few times and it confuses me. I am constantly worried about getting lost. I have never worried like that in Chicago, Los Angeles, or Delhi. I have been “around” the city about four times, I am getting comfortable; anyway, I walked around the stadium. The stadium seemed out of place. Here was this majestic structure in a run down area. I looked at the new park that was built where the old Yankee Stadium stood and it was a beautiful. The parking structure had a soccer field built on top of it and, also, a baseball field where kids were playing.
The new stadium is meant to be very similar in design to the original Yankee Stadium, both in its original 1923 state and its post-renovation state in 1976. The exterior resembles the original look of the 1923 Yankee Stadium. I never attended a ball game at the old Yankee Stadium but when I came out of the parking structure and took my first look at the new Yankee Stadium I was impressed. I was confused by what I had heard from my friend and from others. I decided to walk around the entire structure to get a feel for it and the neighborhood.
I went and purchased the “cheapest” ticket I could get, $26 in the upper deck. The guy that sold it to me seemed to be having a bad day or didn’t like his job. There was security and a large police presence. Three hours before game time, so I went and found a restaurant where I could kill some time. I walked into a sports bar across the street. Nobody was in it, I stood at the bar. Two attractive bartenders gave me the “low down” about the neighborhood and on non-Yankees days it isn’t recommended to come down to the South Bronx. The blonde told me she lived in North Bronx, “More expensive rent, but safer.” she said. People started filing in after awhile with those that probably don’t live in the neighborhood.
I stood outside the stadium to people watch and it was an interesting dichotomy with people and ‘things’ converging. There were uncomfortable glances. A man touched his back pocket to reassure himself, a guy was repeating loudly and quickly “Water! Only a dollar.” I asked him how much the water was, he said,”a dollar.” I thanked him and he looked at me confused, then smiled. People who lived in the neighborhood were selling their wares across the street, non-residents were trying to get into the stadium. Police congregated in groups of four, but they were relaxed. I decided to go in, there was a large impressive corridor where banners hung and approved merchandise was being sold. I liked everything so far. Then, I went into the field area and quickly realized what people meant by “blah.” It was blah. I expected more. This is the most successful MLB franchise and this is New York, where was the cutting edge design? It was a bad idea to try and replicate the old Yankee Stadium, besides that you can’t move history. I felt nothing when I walked in, the history is across the street.
As far as watching the game, I enjoyed it and loved the vibrations when the train rumbled along side the stadium. The view of the city let my imagination run and the fans were taking multitudes of pictures of Derek Jeter; which, I joined in. It was a humid night, perfect baseball weather. I will be back to Yankee Stadium, I hope my critical eye eases…