Monday, June 29, 2009

What Has Replaced "The Bat" As The Go-To Meeting Place For Yankees Fans?

Back when the new Yankee Stadium was opening, we wrote a lot about the famous smokestack (shaped like a bat), that served as a meeting place for Yankees fans around the Tri-State area. For many people not familiar with the Bronx, the bat was a safe haven, and an easy place to spot friends when arriving at the game separately. At some point, the Yankees decided against building a replica bat on the perimeter of the new digs, and left the current one to decay with the rest of the old Yankee Stadium. Its nearly three months into the season and the question still remains: what has replaced "the bat?"

In April, we supported the idea of building a statue of Babe Ruth in Babe Ruth Plaza - effectively solving this dilemma. This spot would have been perfect for a statue, and it would have provided a tangible meeting place after crossing the largest crosswalk in the history of New York City*. Unfortunately, the Yankees have no plans of building such a statue in the plaza, so fans are left in a confused mass, trying to find a place to stand so they aren't in the way of the people crossing the street. Because of this, the shocking winner in the " replace the meet at the bat" sweepstakes seems to be the Hard Rock Cafe.

Strategically placed at the corner of 161st street and River Ave, and featuring a small outdoor cafe, it seems to have become the default meeting place for Yankees fans. While waiting for your late-arriving companion, you can enjoy the pleasures of drinking a $9, 16 oz. aluminum bottle of Bud, as well as people watching, while Yankees fans scurry along Babe Ruth Plaza. The outdoor cafe can get pretty busy, with people seeming to have no problem paying Yankee Stadium prices for beer, even though they aren't technically inside of the stadium yet.

There will always be places for fans to congregate outside of stadiums. One of the great things about Yankee Stadium II was that there was a a non-commercial "landmark" that anyone visiting the stadium could easily spot from far away and select as a meeting point. Disguising an ugly smokestack as a huge bat was a clever bit of character added to the old Yankee Stadium, and one that has been replaced by a commercial money grab - The Hard Rock Cafe. Just another sign of the times at the new Yankee Stadium.

* We cannot confirm that this is, in fact, the largest crosswalk in the history of New York City, but judge for yourself:

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