The phrase – well, the “palace” part – is Derek Jeter’s. It’s unoriginal, cornball, and entirely accurate. In managing to transplant the history of Yankee Stadium, and amplify the grandeur of the old place, and wrap the whole thing up in state-of-the-art hi-tech bells-and-whistles, the Yankees have created a landmark.
I’m a traditionalist, as pro-past as anybody watching the game. Since my first tour of the shell of the ballpark a year ago this month, I have been waiting to be disappointed. At every turn, I have instead been overwhelmed.
The ballpark is deliberately outsized, to recreate for an adult the awestruck feeling of walking into the old place, for the first time, as a kid, when you might’ve gotten the impression that the people who built Yankee Stadium were the same ones who had done The Grand Canyon.
A few quick snapshots to try to convey the dimensions, starting with the view from the press box (note the giant HD screen to the right of the picture):
And from a totally different perspective, actually below the level of the field, in the runway between the bottom of the two-story restaurant, and the suite seating behind home plate:
And now out to the bleachers, and the view from the bar. This isn’t an exclusive place – it’s literally dead center in the bleachers and accessible from them. The other side of the window you’re looking through is covered with the batter’s eye:
This next one is from deep behind third base, illustrating perhaps the most welcome improvement from the old stadium to the new one. From almost everywhere “in the back” you can see the field – even from many of the turnstile locations. This one will also give you a sense of the height and width of the walkways, which in some spots are about ten times as wide as in the old one:
The open-air quality of the rest of the Stadium is more than just an aesthetic consideration. If batting practice on one breezy April is any indicator, the sporadic openings from the seats to the street – and a full ring of them in the upper deck – are going to produce wind conditions entirely different from the old Stadium.
In fact, balls were rocketing over the right field fence, even from righty batters. There seemed to be a swirling effect, bringing wind in towards the plate from Left and then directing it out towards Right, aided by another breeze coming in from the gaps in the upper deck behind the plate. Xavier Nady mentioned it, Joe Girardi told me there might be less of a chance of judging the wind here than in the old one, and Nick Swisher (below) delighted in it:
Attendance might have pushed 30,000 but the Yankees cleverly gave out about half of the tickets to local Bronx groups none too pleased by the slow move towards fulfilling the team’s promises of contributions to the community to replace Macomb’s Dam Park.
I take back one thing I wrote above. There is a slight flaw: I don’t think the auxiliary scoreboards on the fences in LCF and RF really “work” – possibly because they seem to shiver under the weight of advertising billboards sitting directly above them. And here is the early leader for Everybody’s Pet Peeve – there may be too many televisions in the place, several thousand, in fact.
And they are, indeed, everywhere:
That is indeed, a pair of small flat-screens embedded in the mirror in one of the men’s room in the restaurant. There is a third one to the right.
And the big HD job may be a real issue, especially if you suddenly look up to find yourself on it:
On the far right is my friend Richard Roth, who was at CNN when I broke in at 1981, and is still there. And the jacket is a facsimile 1942 New York Giants, which confused everybody.
One last image – the early favorite for weirdest sign in a ballpark: