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ISBS Review: The New Yankee Stadium

By Brian | April 4, 2009 | Share on Facebook

So remember that secret mission I mentioned on Thursday? The one that required a new digital camera? Well, it took two days to get all of the online documentation in place, but now I can discuss it. My older son, Avery, and I found ourselves in possession of two tickets to the New York Yankees’ Pre-Season workout at the newly opened Yankee Stadium. This was the first time the new stadium was opened to the public, and it afforded us the opportunity to spend several hours exploring the entire structure, sampling the food, taking in the new amenities and watching our beloved Yankees take batting and fielding practice.

Those who want the whole story of the day can read on below the fold. For everyone else, a collection of 57 photographs is here and a six-minute video retrospective is here. There’s also a separate video of Bernie Williams singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” here (which you can read more about if you continue below).

All in all, it was an amazing, historical, unforgettable day that neither my son nor I will ever forget. A reporter for the New York Post stopped us outside and asked me why I was a Yankee fan. Here’s what I told him:

And now, as they say, the rest of the story:

We arrived in the Bronx around 10AM for an 11AM “doors open” time, and parked in our usual spot (the old Kinney parking lot on River Avenue). As it turns out, that parking lot, which used to be a short walk to the old stadium’s outfield wall, is now right across the street from Gate 8 of the new stadium, so our parking situation just got much better (unless someone tells the general public about that lot. Well, a guy can dream, can’t he?)

Anyway, we made our way down River Avenue into the newly renovated Babe Ruth Plaza, which is reminiscent of an Italian piazza in front of the stadium. On the way, we passed the new Hard Rock Cafe, which sits on the corner (across from the McDonalds, for those who know the area). The Hard Rock will be open every day, even when the Yankees are not in town, making it the first (of several, I assume) good reason to go to the Bronx when the Yankees aren’t there. As we approached the plaza, another guy waiting to get in noticed that we were holding grandstand (upper deck) seats (which we were thrilled to have!), and offered us field level seats instead. This would be a bit sketchy if it weren’t for the fact that the tickets were free to begin with, and he seemed to have more than he needed.

While reveling in our good fortune, we heard a commotion and saw a TV cameraman run by. Investigating, we learned that former Yankee center fielder, Bernie Williams, had just entered the stadium with Ace Frehley of KISS, to do the opening ceremony for the Hard Rock. The ceremony itself was for invited guests only, but we got to watch from just outside Gate 6. The video I mentioned earlier is Bernie’s contribution to the ceremony, after which there was an official guitar smashing (using guitars rejected from the Fender factory and donated for the event). Yankee announcer John Sterling was the emcee.

We spent the next half hour or so walking around the stadium, checking out the various gates and Babe Ruth Plaza itself, and taking lots of pictures. When we finally got on line to get in (Gate 6), the New York Post reporter stopped us for the above-mentioned interview.

Entering the stadium for the first time was an emotional experience. As I said in my farewell post to the old stadium, it might seem a bit silly to be emotionally attached to a building like this. Even moreso to a building that you’ve never set foot in. But, watching my son go through those turnstiles for the first time, all I could think about was his great-grandfather, who was born in 1898 and who was at the first game in the other Yankee Stadium, and watched Babe Ruth hit his first homerun there. This is a common bond that spans four generations of my family. Other than our religion, there is nothing else that runs so deep.

The stadium itself is gorgeous. The Great Hall, where you enter from Gates 6 or 8, is a massive hallway adorned with giant posters showing past Yankee greats, and championship-winning moments of the recent past. From there, you can enter the field level seats and get a closeup view of the field. One floor above, the main level contains food concessions as far as the eye can see, complimented with some great semi-candid photographs of players from each World Series championship team (things like Yogi Berra serving a pasta dish called “Yogi’s Special” for some Italian restaurant who probably sponsored him back then). One great feature is that you can still see the field while you wait on line for food, so there will be no more “I can’t believe I missed the homerun for a hot dog” conversations like there used to be). Next is the suite level, which we weren’t allowed to explore too much. Above that is the upper deck, which is actually two levels of seats (the upper-upper deck and the lower-upper deck, if you will).

The seats are wider and quite comfortable, especially the padded ones, which make up most of the seats in the lower levels and behind home plate. Also, they are finally dark navy (Yankee) blue. The seats in the old stadium were a lighter blue, which didn’t really match anything else, although I never really thought about until I saw these seats. Live and learn.

The famous Yankee Facade – the white frieze that runs around the entire “horseshoe” of the stadium is a real throw back to the original Yankee Stadium (from before the 1976 renovation, where it was moved to the outfield). This stadium also has a “video ribbon,” which is essentially a short, but very, very wide video screen that spans the front of the entire upper deck, and will allow for “Let’s Go Yankees” displays and various advertisements during games.

The thing that draws the eye, though, is the giant screen in the middle of the outfield. Measuring 53′ by 101′ feet, it is the largest hi-definition TV in the world. If you put one end on home plate and laid it along the first base line, the other end would extend eleven feet beyond first base. Upon entering the stadium, I was taking pictures of my son at field level, and the camera guy decided to put me on that big screen. I spun around and captured the moment on film. Very, very cool.

Finally, there’s the outfield. Two bleacher sections, each much larger and more open than the old stadium’s were. Between them is the new Monument Park, redone beautifully with equal parts reverence and class. The two bullpens book-end Monument Park, and the story goes that Mariano Rivera asked them to put a door between the Yankee bullpen and Monument Park, so he could pop in periodically and visit the monuments. So they did. As Avery and I walked by the door, Shelly Duncan popped his head in for the same reason. He looked just as awed at the new stadium as we did.

One other note about the outfield: above Monument Park is a fine dining restaurant and above that is a food concession, complete with areas to stand/sit and eat. The bleachers are no longer separated from the rest of the stadium like they were before. Fans can walk all the way around the structure if they choose, and visit all aspects of this great new stadium, regardless of where they’re sitting.

As you can see, the stadium left quite an impression on me. It’s brand new, at at the same time, feels as comfortable as a well-worn shoe. I look forward to 26 more championships in this ballpark. And I’m feeling pretty confident that one day, my great-grandson will enjoy it as much as I do today.

Topics: Family Matters, New York, New York, Sports Talk | 5 Comments »

5 Responses to “ISBS Review: The New Yankee Stadium”

  1. Topics about Restaurants » ISBS Review: The New Yankee Stadium says at April 5th, 2009 at 9:34 am :
    [...] Birmingham News added an interesting post today on ISBS Review: The New Yankee StadiumHere’s a small readingOne other note about the outfield: above Monument Park is a fine dining restaurant and above that is a food concession, complete with areas to… [...]

  2. Ilya says at April 6th, 2009 at 4:33 am :
    A healthy dose of envy here, Brian.

    Since when did they start calling a manager a “head coach”, though?

  3. Brian says at April 6th, 2009 at 10:29 pm :
    Heh…I guess around the same time Joba Chamberlain started spelling his name “Jaba.”

    Let’s hear it for the Post’s editors!

  4. Hot News » Yankee Stadium says at April 8th, 2009 at 10:50 pm :
    [...] for Usefull Posts antiDNA.com » New Yankee Stadium Snapshot: The View from the Field…FamilyGreenberg.Com – ISBS Review: The New Yankee Stadium…Captain Sullenberger tossed 1st pitch Yankee Stadium (4-4) « Citizens Against Pro-Obama Media [...]

  5. FamilyGreenberg.Com - Some thoughts on Citi Field says at April 14th, 2009 at 5:46 pm :
    [...] Brian on ISBS Review: The New Yankee Stadium [...]

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