Monday, May 11, 2009

Continuing Our Cause To Fix The New Yankee Stadium

A few days ago, we asked our fellow fans to help us come up with a solution to the problems that have plagued the new Yankee Stadium. We have yet to come up with the answer to any of the problems, but Bill Madden of the NY Daily News, and Will Leitch of NY Magazine have since written articles that really capture the essence of our cause.

Framed as a pleading letter to the ailing George Steinbrenner, Madden went down a laundry list similar to the one we compiled a few days ago. One paragraph in particular stood out in his impressive piece:
Remember when you were a kid, Boss, and your dad, Henry, brought you to your first Cleveland Indians game in old Municipal Stadium? What do you remember most about that day? Standing along the rail next to the dugout during batting practice, watching the players close-up and maybe getting an autograph or two on your scorecard? Can't do it in your ballpark, Boss, the ballpark you built and Trost overpriced. That's because you need a ticket for those “legend suite” $2,500 seats - now slashed to $1,250 - that rim the stadium from foul pole to foul pole. They're the ones so easy to spot on TV, Boss, because they're mostly empty and separated from the $300-$400 “field level” seats (also mostly empty) by what they call the “moat.” (The running joke among Yankee employees is that Trost plans to fill the moat with water and live alligators to further insulate his rich friends from the unwashed masses.)
Seeing a baseball game the way it was supposed to be seen - from the areas closest to the field, has become impossible for the common man. Will Leitch touched on a similar point in his article for NY Magazine, about his first experience sitting in those quarantined Legends Seats:
While the team has a right to be proud of its illustrious history, it is still, in the end, selling tickets to baseball games—with all the beer-sticky aisles, cheesy get-hyped music, and local-business scoreboard promotions that entails. And there’s nothing wrong with those things. (Well, in moderation.) They’re part of the charm of seeing a game, even for rich people who can afford good seats. The Yankees seem convinced they have to offer a new class of entertainment transcendence, failing to appreciate their own success in building a nice new stadium where fans can watch a very-good-to-excellent baseball team.

Sadly, it has come to the point where we, as Yankees fans, don't ever expect to attend a baseball game, see it from a premiere location and receive "added value". As a perfect example, we booked a trip to Arizona yesterday and a trip to a Diamondbacks game is on the docket. When looking for tickets, the first seats that we looked for on Ticketmaster and Stubhub were the upper deck seats. Why wouldn't we? Here in NY, that is where people "like us" sit for games.

Very quickly we realized that this social stigma did not exist at the Arizona Diamondbacks' Chase Field. In other words, we weren't going to have to spend a week's pay to see a baseball game the way it was meant to be seen. Seats comparable to the 100's level at the new Yankee Stadium (with prices in the $100's as well), cost a fraction of that at Chase Field. For around $45 each we could sit behind home plate, on the field level, for an inter-league game against the LA Angels of Anaheim (premium game), featuring post-game fireworks. That's right, we would even get to enjoy fireworks after the game.

Sure, fireworks don't add to the game at all, but isn't it nice for the hypothetical family and their hypothetical son "little Billy" to be able to look forward to a fireworks display after the game if advance pyrotechnics are their thing? As Yankees fans, we have been trained to expect the buttoned-up approach to the game of baseball for far too long. As young Yankee fans, we are trained that fireworks displays are for the "lesser" teams. As Yankees fans, the only fun we should have is the joy of watching our team win, and unless we are rich, we should expect to do so from the nosebleed seats. Meeting players, catching foul balls and most embarrassingly, fireworks displays are reserved for the teams not quite on the level of the New York Yankees. Forget the fact that the Diamondbacks have won a championship more recently than our beloved Yankees (2001), and have won a playoff series more recently as well (2007).

In our case these feelings have been locked up inside for a long time, and the opening of the glitzy new stadium has let them out. It does come as somewhat of a relief that those entrenched in the mainstream media brigade that follow the New York Yankees can understand our cause, and are willing to champion it. Hopefully the Yankees will reevaluate their view on the average fan's importance to the game of baseball and allay our concerns.

A great start would be eliminating the "luxury box" feel of the Legends seats. Ditch the amenities, and make them regular seats. If you want all you can eat food, get a luxury box. Unfortunately, the Yankees still see those seats and the "experience" they offer as the "bread and butter" of their new luxury stadium, so that change is highly unlikely.
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