Soxfan in Yankeeland

Imminent Contact – Mark Teixeira about to hit his first homer in front of the home crowd.

Additional pictures and impressions of YSv2.5, from my visit today, after the jump.  All pictures can be enlarged by clicking on the original embed.

First things first – a beverage on a beautiful spring afternoon.  That's forty bucks right there.


Up the ramps, and then at the top through the metal fabric, a view of the concourse and also a glimpse of the past.  The concourse is the best public moment in the stadium, with people of all sorts mingling amidst banners of famous Yankees.  It's a nice space, though a bit (and I don't mean this in a nasty way) pompous.  This moment, where one catches a view of the old ballpark, is a wonderful one, but it is only temporary, sadly.


And a Nathan's grilled dog.  Despite our supposed interest in the food selection, we ended up with hot dogs, peanuts, cracker jack, and beer.  The hot dog was fantastic – YF predicted as such, but for six bucks it better be.  The prices at the Stadium (six bucks for a dog, ten bucks for a large beer, five bucks for peanuts) are astronomical and unfriendly.


Supply and demand – in our view we counted NINETEEN empty luxury boxes. Nineteen, without a soul in any of them.  How many below us were empty we have no clue.  The expensive seats were mostly empty, the "cheaper" and cheap seats packed to the gills.  Oddly, the view below is the opposite of what you expect – filled to the brim behind home plate and above, and filtering out to the perimeter.  Today it was inverted – empty seats galore at the heart, full at the fringe. On TV it must look like nobody is at the game, the view from behind the pitcher showing a lot of empty blue.  This pic was taken in the seventh inning and those seats behind the plate and down the line are as full as they were all day, this isn't a shot from before the corporate types showed up — the corporate types never showed up.


Hat money.  For years we've been playing a game – at the start of every half inning each of us puts a buck in the hat.  If, at the end of the 1/2 inning the catcher rolls the ball back to the mound and the ball sticks on the dirt then the person holding the hat keeps the money.  The hat rotates each half-inning.  We made it to the end of four innings today before the ball took a steady place on the hill, and I took home the cash.  I also took home the cash twice more, a good day.  It almost paid for my hot dogs and beers.  Forget the ticket – the game would have had to go to 15 innings to cover that.


Long lines for beer, nobody cared about the poor lemonade vendors.


As an architect, I was very interested in the stadium from an aesthetic standpoint.  The Stadium is caught in a strange zone, sometimes it is trying to be contemporary, but at other times it seems to be strangled by its predecessor and namesake.  The shot below shows one particular moment where you can see this tension, where the left field stands insist on evoking the old field, while metal mesh walkways and speaker stands fly past these hulking pieces.  Even odder, they are chamfered, terminated on the diagonal.  As a designer, many of the moments in the park feel uncommitted, bouncing back and forth between a kind of stripped-down neoclassicism and a more stark contemporary feel.  In the end, it suffers for this, there is a lack of stylistic cohesion.


For five bucks you get a bleacher seat, a view of a wall, and an LCD television screen to fill in the details you missed.  The Vader-ish hitters' backdrop-cum-restaurant is a hideous piece of architecture, dominating both the field and also poor Monument Park below, which looks like an abandoned and to-be-avoided playground.


Different ballpark, same familiar mess.  One annoyance: the cupholders are tipped at an angle, and you either have to drink a good two to three ounces of your beer before sitting down or it is donated to the concrete.  Easy choice.  Still annoying.


The game is on the line.  Who else do you expect?


A Yankee win, and a fun first time to the new field.  It has some issues – the lines for concessions were too slow and too long.  The bathrooms are horrendously designed, one door for both in and out and a labyrinthine journey inside.  The food is expensive, ridiculously so.  But the flow through the park is reasonably nice, far nicer an experience than at the old field. The concourse is a very, very good "public" space within the park.  The sight lines from up high were excellent.  We were up in the atmosphere but it didn't feel like we were a
mile high in the clouds — I imagine the lower seats suffer more from their new, greater distance from the grass.  And the scoreboard is great. But in the end, I can't help but echo YF's earlier sentiments that this place is really quite exclusive.  And expensive.  It makes me pray (and I am not religious) that stadia like Wrigley and Fenway are never abandoned due to a craving for the new.

19 comments… add one
  • Awesome post; I enjoyed that a lot. And “hat money”? That’s new to me but I’m going to have to get my friends to play that one when I get to see the Mets new park next weekend.

    FenSheaParkway April 17, 2009, 10:52 pm
  • This is a great piece, SF. I have to say, I find the shots of the vast number of empty seats at the luxury level just heartbreaking and almost tragic. How very sad. When the original YS opened in 23, it sat nearly 73,000. Baseball is more popular than ever, but we now have a park that seats 20,000 fewer, and even still is not filled. The physical segmentation of the fan base I find truly unappealing. If the atmosphere suffers, the team will have reaped a bitter dividend.
    Otherwise, I find your observation about the awkward architectural disjunction between the traditional and the contemporary to be spot on; I had been thinking much the same thing.
    Those 3 tvs tacked to the bleacher wall are pitiful. The Yanks should be ashamed of that monument “park.”

    YF April 17, 2009, 10:58 pm
  • Thank you, SF. Fantastic images, fantastic read.
    > hat money
    Played the game for years. Love it.
    (paraphrasing) > angled cup holders/(easy choices)
    Yep. Regarding beer prices, drafts at Blazers games and AAA Beaver games in Portland (the craft-beer capitol of the world) run ~ $7. At the Rose Garden, they are close to earning $7. At the ballpark? Not even close. But I pay anyway.

    attackgerbil April 17, 2009, 11:52 pm
  • Part of it is (though in no way makes it okay) that it’s a an afternoon game on Friday. Saturday should fare much better.. or at least I hope!

    Lar April 18, 2009, 2:28 am
  • thanks for sharing your experience and photos sf…i’m hoping to get back to ct within the next couple of months to visit family and friends, and a trip to ys is in the plan…i won’t be able to offer the kind of expert opinion that you and yf can, but i’m not trained to appreciate or even notice that kind of detail…as long as it doesn’t rain, i’ll be happy just to be there with my son…we won’t even mind the price of the beer and dogs…actually, i’m surprised they’re still that cheap ;) …i share the sadness over the large number of empty seats…maybe the folks were standing in those long concession lines…no, it’s a sign that even the rich folks can’t afford too many trips to the ballpark anymore…my sadness isn’t for the yankees, who lose money on every empty seat, it’s for the common fan, which i consider myself, who have to contemplate a trip to a game as carefully as they would any major purchase…sign of the times i guess…

    dc April 18, 2009, 8:41 am
  • Thanks for the kind words everyone. Another thing – advertising. In the picture of the empty grandstand you can see ads for “Spongetech” and “Partners Exclusive Transportation”. These aren’t the deep-pocketed financial titans that one might expect, and while there ads for BoA, Dunkin Donuts, Budweiser, there are also a good number of ads for what seem like local outfits. I don’t remember the old stadium and maybe some diehards can clue me in, but were there high-profile ads like this for less corporate businesses? Or could this indicate that ad revenue within the stadium has taken a hit as well as the economy has declined?

    SF April 18, 2009, 8:50 am
  • Also, I am reasonably proud of the Teixeira homer shot, I recommend zooming in by clicking on it – I love how everyone’s eye is trained on the little ball, and also how far Teixeira’s bat has to travel in such a short period of time to pull the ball over the right field fence. A lucky snap.

    SF April 18, 2009, 8:52 am
  • Enjoyed this post and the pics quite a lot. The Teixeira photo is lovely. Too bad it’s a shot of a Yankee, otherwise I would have made it my desktop photo… The shot of the crowd (or lack of same) in the lower deck is really remarkable. Lar’s probably right about it being a workday day game, but it’s just surprising to see in the new stadium’s second game.

    Paul SF April 18, 2009, 8:58 am
  • The cupholders are the same in Arlington, too. Pretty much worthless because you have to hold your drink when it’s totally full (and at its coldest) — arguably the time when you most want to set it down between sips.

    Paul SF April 18, 2009, 9:01 am
  • One other thing about the empty seats and relative quiet of the new place to keep in mind is that the almost everyone going to these early games is going to the park for the first time and are in “explore mode”. People are looking around the new place much more than they will just a few months from now. While Ill expect there to always be more empty seats than id like to see down low, i think the novelty of the place adds a good deal to the situation.

    sam-YF April 18, 2009, 10:36 am
  • perhaps, sam. but i wonder if the exclusive concessions offered to the best seats is a contributing factor. i believe those w/ super premium packages can retreat to private dining areas with privileged views.
    but in the early going it seems the yanks have created a two-tiered fan system, literally and figuratively. and this stadium is all about the shift from baseball as a sports event to baseball as an entertainment event.

    YF April 18, 2009, 12:27 pm
  • Seats weren’t empty because people were looking around. Seats were empty because either they weren’t sold or they were sold and nobody showed up. There were sections down low in the Legends section that were devoid of a single fan. Row after row.

    SF April 18, 2009, 1:17 pm
  • SF-
    What kind of camera are you using?

    walein April 18, 2009, 1:35 pm
  • Panasonic point and shoot, Lumix.

    SF April 18, 2009, 2:40 pm
  • I love this image. I especially like the way that you caught the curve of the rim of the Stadium, and I like the contrail.

    attackgerbil April 18, 2009, 3:33 pm
  • Just back from the worst game ever….despite the out come I did want to point out a few positives from the experience from my first game at the stadium ( I went to an exhibition but that hardly counts). I agree with many of the criticisms voiced here and in other places but there are some positives too…
    – I really like the way people move around the stadium. There are options to stand and watch the game from many view points that were not available at all in the old place. Sure, you may be excluded from the lower level but you can stand and watch the whole game from much closer than you could ever at the old place. The old park (and really all parks) had strict exclusion from the best seats too…
    – The stadium was not nearly as “quiet” as the reports Ive heard. Despite the fact the yankees were blown out there was lots of noise (mainly boos) and the crowd was really attentive.
    – There were empty seats down low but not nearly as bad as was reported for yesterdays game. I distinctly remember many games at the old place where this was the case. I think the design makes it more noticeable now.
    – The sight lines are great from almost every seating area I went too.
    – I do stand by my point from above about less people in certain seats as people moved around the stadium. The concourses were much more crowded than I ever remember them being at the old place. It remains to be seen if it will always be like this. It was a massive blow out after all!
    All in all, there is much to like and much to criticize in the new place. I believe the experience will improve with time as they fine tune the stadium and how its used.
    Ill post a link to my photos later.

    sam-YF April 18, 2009, 7:12 pm
  • Sam – thanks for the notes. I think you corroborate a great deal of what I saw and felt yesterday. The sight lines, the flow around the stadium, etc. One thing I don’t agree with is the noise level observation: the stadium wasn’t loud yesterday, even as the Yanks came back and won in optimal fashion (a late-inning Jeter homer). It was not quiet, but it wasn’t loud either. It’s hard to explain, but the noise level felt a bit flat, even as it couldn’t be called quiet.

    SF April 18, 2009, 11:05 pm
  • Hard for me to say about the noise level SF. The boos i heard in the 2nd were as loud as any Ive heard at the old place. (One might argue they should be louder than ever but Ill let that go for now!) I’ll wait to pass judgement until Im at a game in which there is something to cheer about. I will continue to say that I think its hard to really say and conclude too much about the new park until we are well into the season and perhaps into next year and the novelty factor has worn off. I really felt that this effects the crowd in many ways (myself included). Until it really becomes home to the majority of people who are attending a game, i think this will remain part of the equation of seeing a game there. The question is if it will become “home” to the fans given the pricing/ticketing set up that the yankees have set up. The jury is still out on this…

    sam-YF April 19, 2009, 12:08 am
  • Love that last pic. They may have gotten lots wrong, but I’m pleased they got some big things right. Now if only they’d flip the visiting bullpen with Monument Park…
    Great points, Sam. Hopefully we’ll have a Sox-Yankees playoff game this year to test thresholds.

    Rob April 19, 2009, 9:41 am

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