Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New York Yankees Introduce The Caste System: Only Allow Field Level Ticket Holders To Roam The Field Level Concessions

The Yankees have finally updated the official "A-Z" guide to the new Yankee Stadium on their website. There will likely be many nuggets that we are able to draw from this comprehensive guide to the stadium. For now, the most glaring change is the following:
Field Level Food Court

The food court located near Section 126 on the Field Level offers guests a taste of New York with a variety of concessions, including Boar¹s Head deli sandwiches, Famous Famiglia pizza and Asian cuisine. Please note that only Field Level and Legends ticket holders have access to the Field Level.

We have mentioned before that one of the most enjoyable aspects of going to baseball games is roaming around the stadium and checking out all of the nooks and crannies of the ballpark. Never before have we been to a ballpark that does not let fans explore the concessions on an entire level of the Stadium. We have been to Camden Yards in Baltimore, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and Safeco Field in Seattle in the past few years and NONE of those stadiums have this policy.

To prevent us from using the facilities or making purchases on an entire level is really creating social stratification in the new Yankee Stadium that we are not comfortable with. This also means that the middle-class family coming to Yankee Stadium to see their heroes suit up in the pinstripes will not be able to watch batting practice from the Field Level or try to procure autographs from their favorite players.
Batting Practice

Guests are welcome to watch batting practice from their seat location. Yankee Stadium gates will open at 10 a.m. for regular-season day games and 4 p.m. for regular-season night games. For Saturday Fox games during the regular season, gates will open at 1 p.m.

All of this is completely out of line with most other sporting venues where fans are encouraged to congregate close to the action during the pregame. We can only hope that the Yankees enforce the new A-Z guide as well as they did the old one, meaning hardly at all.

Don't get us wrong, the suddenly non-existent big spenders who normally snatch up those Field Level seats deserve special amenities. That is why there are membership only clubs in the stadium such as the Audi Yankees Club on the H&R Block Suite Level and the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar above Monument Park in center field. That is also why they can order food from their padded seats. These people who are spending a minimum of $95 for game day tickets do not need their own level of concessions. It is completely understandable if the Yankees don't want fans milling around or sitting in the actual seating area of the "Field Level" and that is what security guards/ushers are for.

According to the 2009 Yankee Media Guide:
Approximately two-thirds of the Stadium’s seats are in the lower half of the building, which
reverses the arrangement of the old Stadium, which had roughly two-thirds of the seats in the upper half.
Since the "lower half" of the building is split between the "Field Level" seats and the "Main Level" seats, it is fairly safe to assume that less than one third of attendees will have access to any of the offerings on an entire level.

This might be some sort of ploy to ramp up demand for the "Field Level" seats that remain unsold. In that case, all the Yankees are going to be left with is the most visible area of the stadium looking empty in TV clips. Meanwhile, just like on the Titanic, the "lower-class" people in the upper reaches of the stadium will be packed in tightly, but also having the most fun. This also might just be an "official policy" that is never enforced and therefore a non-issue. We can only wait and see.

As is the case many times on our blog, this post was inspired by the passionate Yankee fans on the NYYFans message board. We don't have much experience with discussing actual on-the-field action on NYYFans, but their "Out of Play" forum is one of the most informative places on the internet when it comes to breaking down all aspects of being a Yankee fan.


Rob Abruzzese said...

I thought we already knew that stuff on the field level was only open to people with those tickets. I knew that they had their own exclusive bar ect, why not concessions as well? Turns out to be the case.

Ross said...

Rob -

It was not known that people wouldn't be able to use the concessions or facilities down there. It especially wasn't known that you wouldn't be able to watch batting practice down there. This is legitimate and terrible news for Yankee fans.

Anonymous said...

i was under assumption ONLY the Legends tickets had their own section of foods, bathrooms, concessions (and for $550-2650 i could understand that) but if its actually the entire Lower Level , then the Stadium really is going to be class warfare at its worst ! (and the upper class may be a NO SHOW!!) sure they will spin all the outrage on the small bumps in the road to opening a brand new venue, when that will be the furthest thing from the truth, i am actually looking forward to see how they get themselves out of this mess of outrageous ticket prices no one is willing/or able to pay...these will be some interesting (if not Sad) days indeed

Anonymous said...

I hate this policy and think it's a load of crap and a huge mistake. That being said, however, it's not new to baseball. Shea Stadium had the exact same policy with its field level -- only ticket-holders were allowed access at any point. And Dodger Stadium, because of the way it's built, allows no access to the other seating levels.

BPALM said...


You are right that non field level ticket holders could not access the seat area concessions at Shea but everyone had access to the Subway stand, the Dunkin Donuts, and the specialty cheese steak stand in the right field corner on the field level. All other concessions (i.e. Pizza, Mama's Deli, Nathans etc.) were accessible on all other levels.

If people in the upper decks do not have access to the same types of food as the people in the lower deck it is a travesty. I understand you shell the money out and should get some extras in having your own concessions/restaurants so that is fine.

The batting practice change is ridiculous that is a big perk to get to the ballpark early. I think they are making a mistake because this increases the instances fans will buy the food and merchandise being in the stadium 2 hours longer.

Anonymous said...

BPALM, I agree 100%. I was going to get to the Friday night Cubs game extra early so I could roam the Stadium. But now that I'm apparently confined to the terrace and grandstand levels, that's a lot less to roam. Oh, shucks: Guess I won't be spending $23.50 on a martini. :)

Ross said...

I'd still get there early, just in case the Yankees don't follow the A-Z Guide.

mtrico said...

The provision you are quoting certainly is strangely worded:
"The food court located near Section 126 on the Field Level offers guests a taste of New York with a variety of concessions, including Boar¹s Head deli sandwiches, Famous Famiglia pizza and Asian cuisine. Please note that only Field Level and Legends ticket holders have access to the Field Level." Why would you discuss access to an entire area of the stadium in a section that is specifically discussing the Filed Level Food Court?

Ross said...

@mtrico -

Do we expect anything more from an organization that once released a typo-ridden memorandum to season ticket holders regarding the relocation process, or had to redact an email to season ticket holders after incorrect presale dates were disseminated?

mtrico said...

Ross- You make a good point. As far as what the real policy is, I guess we will know soon enough. I plan on being there on the 2nd, so in 8 days, perhaps we will have a better idea.

HowFresh said...

Terrible news. I guess the field level concession stands won't be getting much business after the 6th inning while the upper decks will be raking it in.

You would think sports unify rather than segregate in 2009.

Adam said...

US Cellular actually has been doing this. My friend who attends Northwestern told me about it. Doesn't surprise me though, why should the rich folk have to brush elbows with the commoners?

Charlie said...

This is just a terrible slap in the face to the upper deck fan base (ME)

Iconoclast Jones said...

I think we are misreading this. I believe it applies to the seating areas, not the councourses. Just like at Giants Stadium for football games -- you can roam wherever you want on the lower level -- you just can't enter the seating areas. With so many concessions and merchandising opportunities downstairs, you can be certain the Yankees would not exclude folks from that area.

William said...

Is it really a big deal if the fabeled family of four doesn't have full access to overprice deli meats? Give me a break. As for watching batting practice, why not wait to find out what policy is in place instead of going off conjecture. Besides, comparing ones ability to get closer to batting practice with the creation of a caste system is so silly it takes away from any credibility you might have on the topic.

Ross said...

William - Here is the problem. According to the current A-Z Guide, families are able to take their kids down to meet the players and possibly get souvenirs during batting practice. People unable to afford the most expensive seats are not. This was never the case in the old Yankee Stadium. How is this NOT social stratification?!

That being said, Yankee ticket reps are telling customers that the A-Z Guide is wrong, so we will have to pay attention for an update. As I mentioned in my post, I can't see how this will actually be enforced, but as the New Stadium Insider blog owner, I felt that this was an important enough topic to discuss. Based on the feedback around the web, I was correct in that feeling.

Mike said...

Yet, another reason to stay away. It amazes me how they create ways to keep fans OUT than bring fans IN.

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