Nick and I ventured up to the new ballpark in the Bronx for both games this weekend. We'll just do this in bullets, in order to present the positives and negatives. There will be links to Friday night's videos from our Qik.com page throughout. Please click the links, as it will give you a much better idea of what we are writing about. We also have some photos up on Facebook, if you want to snoop around and see what we look like!
UPDATE (4/4 10:09 PM): Amazingly, Andrew from Scott Proctor's Arm managed to touch on many things that can be perceived as negative that I didn't even touch on below. Great job by Andrew. Check it out. Alex Belth over at Bronx Banter does what he does best and put the scene at the new stadium into better words than I ever could have.
- Getting into the stadium is much easier than ever before. The lines are short and move fast. You scan your own ticket, and the voice of god, Bob Sheppard welcomes you to the stadium from a small speaker in the turnstile. Nice touch.
- The bleachers are the best bargain in the entire stadium. The views from the cheapest seats in the house are better than anywhere in the upper deck. We guarantee that those seats will see an increase from their $12 price come 2010.
- The Yankees Museum is amazing. It is like a mini Cooperstown and I can see going back multiple times because of all of the baseballs with Yankee players signatures on it. When you can find a ball with Wade Taylor's signature on it, the place has succeeded. It is a small space, but the Yankees have managed to encapsulate the entire history of their franchise in a representative manner. It is much more interesting than monument park.
- The Food Choices are better dispersed throughout the entire stadium than at Citi Field. There are the main "hubs" for places like Carl's Steaks on the lower level, but there are also smaller Carl's stands spread out through the other parts of the stadium (albeit with ridiculously long lines). It is the same with many of the other concessions stands. At Citi Field, if you want Shake Shack or Blue Smoke, you have to go to the main hub in center field.
- Speaking of food choices, the Hard Rock Cafe is small, but offers a very fun atmosphere. The prices are similar to any other theme restaurant, so it is actually a good value considering that you can sit down and escape the elements on a cold or hot day. Interestingly enough, you can enter the restaurant from the street, but also enter from the stadium. Therefore, the general public is mingling with the ticket holders. The entrance back to the stadium is guarded by multiple security guards who check if you have a ticket - but don't scan it, or check the date on it. We will let you draw your own conclusions on that.
- The views from the main level (200's section) are amazing. Even walking around behind the sections, where we assume standing room only tickets will be, there are great views of the field. This is definitely the best value after the $12 bleacher seats, in terms of cost and view of the actual game. Yes, the most expensive seats in the main level are a pretty unaffordable $95, but there are also $60 seats in the outfield area of the 200's level.
- Spicy tuna rolls for $9.75. The helping was generous and they were actually good. Healthier alternative to many of the other concessions, and affordable when considering the quality.
- More bathrooms, more space between urinals. 'Nuff said.
- The security guards employed at the new stadium are intent on taking all of the fun out of the entire experience. We are aware that these security guards are probably paid little above minimum wage, and are probably poorly trained. However, from the moment we walked into the stadium and rode the elevator upstairs, we were told by a deceivingly friendly security guard that we were not allowed to take video in the stadium - yea right. From there, we experienced a rigid security guard standing post at each and every entrance to the seats in the entire stadium. If you don't have a ticket for a section, don't even think about trying to sit there. As for viewing batting practice and player warm ups from close to the field, forget about that as well. The Yankees are apparently following the rules set forth in the A-Z Guide, contrary to our reports this week, and are not letting people anywhere close to the field before the game. They were also very confrontational, looking for an argument, and possibly an opportunity to utilize their power to eject. Do not try to question them on why they do things, because they will jump down your throat. The Yankees BADLY need to train these guards in how to communicate with other human beings before things get ugly. Utterly disappointing.
- Views from the entire Grandstand are terrible. Moving things back by 30 feet has made all of the difference in the world. The Grandstand evokes memories of Shea Stadium - don't count on a baseball, fair or foul, ever reaching there. This may be a positive for some who are scared of getting hit with a foul ball, but it also really removes you from the action. The seats in the outfield sections are far, far away. I would trade those $20 tickets for $12 tickets in the bleachers STRAIGHT UP - no questions asked. Any takers?
- The entire place has an industrial feel. Beyond the unfriendly security guards, the structure itself does not make you feel welcome. There is something very cold, and gray about it. In this regard, it is the complete opposite of Citi Field
- The flow in the concourses is easily slowed, and is at times impassable. The improved concourse size makes a difference on the field level, but on every other level the concession stands are built in a way that their lines block the entire walkway. We recognize that this was the first game and people were likely wandering around in sections they usually wouldn't be in. However, we just don't see how the Yankees can justify any standing room only in many of the sections of the stadium without first re-thinking the concession lines and working on getting people moving through the stadium. At times, we felt like we were in the concourses of the old Yankee Stadium, being bumped into from all angles
- Obstructed view seats are easy to find throughout the 1.6 billion dollar structure. Much has been said about the obstructed seats in the bleachers, and the poor attempt at supplementing the view with HDTVs. The Yankees also did not remove the seats that are obstructed by support beams in the 200's section. Finally, many seats in the Granstand are obstructed similarly to the upper promenade obstruction at Citi Field. Take a look at our video from section 428, Row 4, Seat 1 from Friday night:
Luckily, our season seats in 428, row 10 are not obstructed. However, they are miles away.
- Friend of the blog and creator of the great baseball blog WalkoffWalk, Rob Iracane, wrote us an email, complaining about the lack of cellular service in the new stadium. He mentioned AT&T and Sprint being dysfunctional. We did notice that our live stream on Friday night was not as smooth as at Citi Field last weekend, which was disappointing. Rob points out that the Yankees had promised improved cellular network capacity at the new Yankee Stadium, but this does not seem to be the case. Also, public wi-fi is non-existent. The Yankees had mentioned wi-fi in many of the new tech announcements, but is not available yet. A systems engineer for the Yankees tells us that public wi-fi is not available yet, but eventually will be offered. Interestingly, we were able to pick up free wi-fi in the Hard Rock Cafe.
- Overpriced concessions were to be expected, but a 16 oz. can of Pabst Blue Ribbon for $9, and 3 chicken fingers and 22 fries for $10.50 are ridiculous. We know that the $3 hot dog at the Kids Cafe exists, but we couldn't find it for the life of us. Speaking of what we couldn't find, the butchers were cutting the Lobel's beef behind a glass window, but the cart to purchase fresh steak sandwiches was nowhere to be found.
- We had a hot dog on Friday night and the bun was stale. We had a pretzel on Saturday and it was stale. Total cost for stale food items? Over $10. This should not be acceptable, and there should be some recourse when fans are offered overpriced, stale food. Especially on the first and second days of a ballpark's existence.
- While security guards were busy doing their best KGB impression, angrily blocking off every section (even the $12 bleacher seats), many less traveled areas of the stadium were left completely unsecured. We found many nooks and crannies in random parts of the stadium that had no security and thus encouraged illicit activity. Many of these spots also featured open-air to the outside of the stadium, so people took the opportunity to smoke cigarettes. If they wanted to, they could have been smoking a sticky, green substance, or shooting heroin. Ok, perhaps that is a bit extreme, but the Yankees have some work to do in appropriately deploying their army of security.
- As we walked around the stadium, these unsecured zones got more and more "rapey". We really did get concerned for our safety in certain weird corners of the stadium. Our scariest moment came when we were trying to leave the stadium from the field level. Right after the Lobel's butcher window, there was a closed set of doors that had a large exit sign above them. There was no security guard blocking these doors, there was no sign on the door that prohibited anyone from going through them, and they were unlocked. We exited through the doors, along with about 5-7 other people, and that is when the nightmare began. We somehow found ourselves at the loading dock, near the players buses. Of course, the security in that area was not happy to see us. We asked them to direct us to the nearest exit of the stadium and they simply berated us, telling us that we were not allowed in the area. We tried to go back from where we came from, but we were locked in! It took 10 minutes of begging and convincing of the security guards/ policeman in the loading dock area to let us back out into the main part of the stadium. They refused to believe that we entered that area by legitimate means - even though there was 10 of us stuck in there like rats in a maze. Eventually someone came with a key and let us back out. It is very unfortunate that our phone battery was dead by the time this incident occurred preventing us from having video proof of the fiasco. On Saturday, this door was being guarded, so hopefully the Yankees have learned from this first day mistake.
- The Legends Premium Club on the lower level was built in poor taste. It features floor to ceiling glass windows, so the patrons are in a fishbowl. It is like that from outside of the stadium on the street as well. The Yankees are clearly trying to get everyone to see the exclusive restaurants/clubs and get overwhelmed by feelings of envy, thus paying whatever ridiculous fee that it will take to get in there. Not working on us - it just comes off elitist, furthering the "Titanic" feel of the entire stadium. At Citi Field, the Caesar's club on the exelcior level and the indoor concessions on the promenade level have the same exclusive feel to them,
but everyone with a ticket to the stadium is allowed in.[UPDATE: We have received word that the Caesar's club is only for "Ebbets and Caesars Club seat holders and Sterling Suite holders"].
- On Friday night, the water in the bathrooms was ice cold, on Saturday, it was luke warm. The trend is our friend, but for now, score another one for Citi Field, which featured warm water.
All of the mistreatment by security aside, we just wanted to have a good view of the field. Unfortunately our season tickets in section 428 of the Grandstand don't really offer that. While unobstructed, they are so far away that we really feel like we are removed from the action on the field. Reading through the archives of this blog (and its predecessor, NYYStadiumInsider.com), we realize that we were often critical of the lack of amenities at the old Yankee Stadium. Perhaps the grass is always greener on the other side, but at this point we would trade our surprisingly good sushi and Lobel's steak for the amazing views from the upper deck of the old Yankee Stadium in a heartbeat.