Yankee Stadium, 2015 (Photo courtesy of Arturo Pardavila)
I remember my first time at Old Yankee Stadium back in 2001. The Yankees were playing the Red Sox and I just happened to be sitting in the renowned right field upper deck. Even though the stadium had been constructed back in 1923, the renovations completed during the 1970’s gave the inside of the ballpark a look and feel unlike what you’d expect with such an old structure. Even considering the unfortunate face-lift it received during that golden age of modern architecture that was the 70’s, the charm and significance of the grand ballpark was still very much present.
To think that New York, the mecca of baseball, once had three of the most special ballparks all operating at the same time. And now, those establishments are long gone and all that remains to house New York’s two MLB teams are the recently built Yankee Stadium and Citi Field. An organization like the Yankees, beloved by tens of millions, has an obligation (one would think) to do what’s in the best interest of the majority of people who support the club. Unfortunately, if ever there was a stadium designed by and for the incredibly wealthy, it’s New Yankee Stadium.
This ballpark, especially those lower level cushiony looking seats appear to be the most bland and sterile looking seats in all of baseball. I wouldn’t stoop so low as to say I’d rather watch a game at Tropicana Field over New Yankee Stadium, but to think that the Yankees had such a great old ballpark and actually went ahead and replaced it with this monstrosity of a building is enough to almost bring this baseball die-hard to tears…and I don’t even like the Yankees, imagine what a life long fan of the Bronx Bombers must be feeling?
Although many features of the original Yankee Stadium have been kept, the new stadium still looks and feels completely different than the original. That majestic and grand upper deck, including those in right field that I was lucky enough to sit in have been replaced with an upper deck that includes a row of box seats that cut right through the heart of the entire upper level.
To add insult to injury, back when the Yankees started with their demands that the City of New York finance them a new stadium, Yankees management actually went so far as to threaten to leave the city if their demands weren’t met. Imagine that, you own a team in the largest and most rabid baseball market on the planet, and when the Municipal Government refuses to abide with your ludicrous demands to finance a new stadium, you threaten to up and leave. How ridiculous! It’s old news now, but threatening to leave New York City…please…had the Yankees left (which never would have happened even if public funds weren’t allocated for a new stadium) it would have gone down as the dumbest decision ever made by a sports organization, and that includes FIFA awarding the World Cup to a desert country smaller in size than Connecticut, with a population less than Brooklyn!
How out of touch does an organization have to be to demolish a stadium that played home to Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, and Derek Jeter? Some Red Sox fan thought he was pulling a fast one on the Yankees by burying a David Ortiz jersey in the concrete that was poured for the new stadium…forget that, because one piddly little jersey is nothing compared to the satisfaction that Red Sox fan will enjoy knowing all too well what kind of venue the Yankees will be calling home for the next 50 years. To be honest, I feel sorry for Yankee fans and the stadium they’re stuck with. Where was George Costanza when you needed him and his blunt approach to set the Yankees brass straight when the unnecessary rumblings for a new stadium began?
Monument Park is a lovely reminder of the many legends who’ve played for the Yankees over the years…the unfortunate thing is, the Yankees already had the best and most fitting monument of all…and that was the original Yankee Stadium.