Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Yankee Stadium doesn't drop the ball
There was no more fabled stadium in all of professional sports than Yankee Stadium, the ball park dubbed "The House That Ruth Built" when it opened in 1923.

But all good things must come to an end, it seems, and that time came for Yankee Stadium after the close of the 2008 Major League Baseball season. But right beside it across Babe Ruth Plaza at the corner of East 161st Street and River Avenue in the New York City borough of The Bronx sits new Yankee Stadium, which seems poised to carry on its predecessor's proud tradition far into the 21st century and make it an important stop for those taking New York City breaks

The new stadium incorporates many of the design elements from the old park, but adds all of the modern amenities that fans have come to expect these days. The outfield dimensions, including the short porch in right field that's a magnet for home runs, are also similar.

History was further acknowledged by moving Monument Park across the street just beyond the centre field fence, giving fans the chance to pay their respects and see plaques dedicated to some of the greatest players in history — including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.

There's also a Yankees Museum on the lower level that displays a wide range of memorabilia and uses a tribute of Don Larsen pitching his 1956 perfect game to catcher Yogi Berra as its centrepiece. Another Yankees catcher, the late Thurman Munson, has his clubhouse locker on display.

The seven-storey Great Hall features large banners featuring photos of past and present Yankee stars, and there's no shortage of places to purchase souvenirs and memorabilia.

There are also lots of dining options, including NYY Steak, a Hard Rock Cafe, the Audi Yankees Club, the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar, 25 fixed concession stands and 112 moveable ones serving hot dogs, French fries, pizza, sandwiches, nachos, burritos, chicken fingers, Philly cheese steaks, sausages, hamburgers, barbecue, noodles, sushi, cookies and ice cream. 

There's also a martini bar and three Beers Of The World concessions offering regional brews from North America and Europe. You may want to eat before you go to the stadium, however, as the food and drink prices are the highest I've ever seen at a ball park. 

Bruce Willis, Paul Simon and former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani didn't seem to mind, however, as they attended the same Yankees-Red Sox game as I did last August and were shown on the huge video screen on the centre field scoreboard. Smaller scoreboards are on each side of the main one, and there are even smaller manually operated ones located in the outfield fences.

I could see the entire field well from my grandstand seat in the upper deck along the left field line that had a $20 face value, but I had to pay more than twice that to a ticket broker to get into the sold-out game against the Yankees' arch-rivals.
Yankee Stadium seats 51,000 people, about 4,000 fewer than the original held. But with the price the team charges for many of them (as well as for all of the luxury suites), there's no need to be concerned about a loss of revenues driving club owner George Steinbrenner to the poor house. 

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