Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tear the old dump down... Its for the kids

A google map shows the proximity of the Macombs Dam Ball Fields to the Old Yankee Stadium

Now that the trophies, front office, ghost of Scott Brosius, Mystique & Aura, and nearly everything else are moved out, there is only one thing left to do - tear down the old Yankee Stadium.

On a fateful day in 2006, the City of New York closed down Macombs Dam park, home to some of the only ball fields in the South Bronx in order to start construction on the new Yankee Stadium. I remember those fields well. During my formative years in high school, I played on them often. I went to a Catholic all boys high school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and one of our division rivals in sports was All Hallows high school - located in the Bronx. No matter the sport, soccer or baseball, a different kind of adrenaline surged through my veins when I was playing in the shadow of the House that Ruth Built. Something about playing there made me feel like I was somehow becoming a part of New York City history. I was one of the thousands of New York City high school kids who had the honor of playing baseball and soccer on such sacred ground.

When I heard that the new Yankee Stadium was set to wipe out the fields of Macombs Dam park, I became a bit melancholy. Never again would I be able to pass by those fields and point out where I scored the game-winning goal, or swiped a game-changing base. However, those places on the Earth would now be a part of an even greater history - that of the New York Yankees. To ease the sting a bit more, plans dictated that the fields of Macombs Dam Park were going to be completely rebuilt in the footprint of the old Yankee Stadium, giving generations of New York City kids even better fields to play sports on.

Fast forward three years and the opening of the New Yankee Stadium is nearly upon us. Meanwhile, the old Yankee Stadium is still erect, without any signs of its impending doom. Today, an article by Barvey Araton of the New York Times points out that community board members in the Bronx don't expect the new parks to be ready until 2011 at the earliest, while urging the City to do the right thing and tear down the old Stadium. That means by the time the new fields are ready, it will have been at least 5 years from the time that New York City kids last had ball fields to play on in the South Bronx.

If I had been in high school for the four years from 2006-2010, I would never have had the exciting experience of playing a competitive sport in the shadows of Yankee Stadium. Every day that passes with the old Yankee Stadium standing stubbornly in place is another day that children of New York City lose out on that chance, with no opportunity to go back.

The fields of Macombs Dam Park are torn down in 2006

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