Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It Is Time To Stop Complaining About The Yankees And Their New Stadium, And Time To Start Acting

With the Yankees playing the Red Sox this week, it made us think. If fans in Boston were able to band together and prevent the Red Sox from tearing down Fenway, why can't Yankees fans join together and convince team executives to fix some of the glaring problems with the new Yankee Stadium in particular, and the Yankee franchise in general.

We won't pretend to have the solutions to these problems, but if the fans can all contribute, share stories and brainstorm, perhaps we can figure out some ways to enact change. Today, Ben Kabak of River Avenue Blues fame dug up an old expression from the 1950's likening rooting for the Yankees to rooting for U.S Steel in the title of a blog post. The purpose of this post was to reveal many of the ways that the Yankees have lost touch with reality and their fans since the opening of the new Yankee Stadium. It is very disheartening.

What follows is a list of some of the problems that people have brought up about the new Yankee Stadium since it has opened. There is also some general commentary about the direction that the franchise has been heading regarding fan treatment. Along with some of these issues are compelling quotes from fans, as collected from fellow Yankee blogs, the NSI comments section and also from the message board. We have tried to link to the specific location of these quotes when possible.

Concession Prices and lack of local, specialty food at the new stadium

Disconnect from the game due to further recessed upper deck - no foul balls, less of a home field advantage

"The thing that's noticeable to me right away is when you walk out of the dugout, the upper deck is not on top of you."
- Terry Francona, Red Sox Manager (via

Exhaust fans making noise and emitting food smells that affect fans in the grandstand

Atmosphere and fan involvement: too many distractions, not enough noise
But it sure seems that the new Yankee Stadium lacks any semblance of the atmosphere that made the original so special. When you saw a game at the old place, you felt like part of a community of fans. The prices were very high, and it wasn’t the kind of place the average working man could take his family very often. But if you got in, everyone was part of the event, no matter where you sat. There was buzz.
- Tyler Kepner, NY Times Bats Blog

Lack of counters in the standing room only areas on the concourses with views of the field (like they have at Citi Field and Citizen's Bank Park)
When I went to Citizens Bank Park, they actually had counters set up in the concourses so that you can stand there and watch the game while eating something. Not only is standing on the concourses welcomed, it's actually encouraged! At Yankee Stadium, while standing on the concourse to watch the game, I felt like I was breaking the law.
- NYY Fans Message Board member

Monument Cave

My main issue with the park is the location. It is tucked away behind the center field wall and underneath the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar. For a stadium that was built to honor the past, it's amazing how they essentially hid away the retired numbers in center field.
- Andrew Fletcher, Scott Proctor's Arm Blog

No Access To The Field During Batting Practice
Part of the fun of going to Yankee games was getting there early for batting practice and going down to the field level to try to catch home run balls. Now the Yankees have taken that away. The other thing that was fun was moving down to better seats in the 7th or 8th innings when the stadium started emptying out. The Yankees have taken that away too. So screw them. I'll watch every game on TV, and probably won't return all that much until they change that policy.
- NYY Fans message board member

No Preservation of the old Yankee Stadium

While the "Current Plan" fails to preserve any portion of the historic Yankee Stadium, it is possible to address the community's concerns by maintaining the modifications that were made in the Alternate Plan and still preserve a meaningful, recognizable and symbolic element of the Stadium, and do so in a very cost effective way.

Obstructed Views, specifically in the bleachers

Out of touch team executives
Bottom line... I hate the Yankees front office. I think we all agree that Yankees fans are the best of any sport. Going to a game and knowing most of the fans have a great knowledge of the game and a love for the team was awesome.. This is not awesome...they've ruined this team...and maybe the franchise. I'm totally serious... I don't see any way they can come back from this year. Even if they slash prices 50% they're still over priced by a lot. The execs can eat their tickets... I'll be on stubhub looking for tickets upwards of 70% off.
- NSI Commenter JB413

Overzealous Security toward fans and media
"I don't mind if they have to check tickets but can't they mix in some common sense? They could at least be polite and not act like you are there for them. I walked to my seats 3 times, the third time before the game I stuck a printed ticket in my pocket. I was with my 7 year-old son and was coming back from the concessions. Both hands were full and was holding my drink with my mouth to fish out a ticket. The guy slowly opens my ticket, looking annoyed, then says, what about his ticket (meaning my son's)? I said to the guy, are really going to make me dig that out? He paused, looks at me and my son for about 5 seconds and says, make sure you have it ready next time. What was he going to do? Make a 7 year stay behind?"
- message board member

Social Stratification in the new Stadium, perfectly illustrated by dividers between the urinals in the bathrooms on the field level, but not anywhere else in the new stadium, as well as warm water in the bathrooms on the lower levels, but not in the upper deck.
Is it a huge deal? Of course not, but could there be a better symbol of how much the Yankees have bent over backwards to cater to the wealthiest customers and how they could care less about the core fans? By installing the dividers at the field level, they are acknowledging that it matters, but only providing the "luxury" to those purchasing the most expensive seats. It's an issue of simple human decency, and they can't possibly cost that much to put them in.
- Jay, Fack Youk Blog

Terrible flow and poor formation of concession lines on the main level

Ticket Prices For The Best Seats
It used to be you would use ticketmaster to find the best available, but now thanks to the Yankees pricing, we need to petition TM to build in a cheapest available feature so we don't have to spend hours finding a game with seats for less than $100.
- NSI commenter, JSBogen

Too many ads in the outfield that take away from the atmosphere

Unfinished, steel and concrete look, as seen in the gray bleachers'

Oversights from the original list:

Poor use of the high-definition video board in center field

Viewers at home having to watch through a net

Wind tunnel that blows through the back of the Grandstand, causing fan discomfort during the colder months, and causing balls to rocket over the fences at an alarming pace.
Some of the items in the above list are nit-picky, but most are valid issues that should be addressed. We figured that we would list as many complaints as we have heard. Unlike the fans at Fenway, we did not do anything to prevent the new stadium from being built. Most of us were enamored by the idea of a fancy stadium and state of the art amenities. Regardless, community action attempting to stop the team likely would have failed - the Yankees had $1.6 billion to spend and nothing was standing in their way.

Hopefully the Yankees have some more money to spare since addressing the above problems will cost a pretty penny. More importantly, however, the Yankees need to invest some time and energy into researching what is most important to their fan base. Catering to a specific demographic is a great way for a powerful brand to maximize profits, but the Yankees need to be careful not to completely lose touch with the average, middle-class fan. Perhaps they just need someone to remind them of this, or perhaps they just don't care. We won't know until we try.

So now it is time for the New Stadium Insider community to act. What can we do to change things? Is there any hope? Let us know in the comments.
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