Last week I took my friend Alison to what has become the annual NYC/Yankees trip. When I purchased our tickets from a season ticket-holding friend, I asked what his thoughts were on the new $1.5 billion complex. “Meh” was his response. After attending my first game there, I totally understood his reaction–and began to appreciate just how much I miss the dirty, antiquated–yet original “House that Ruth Built”.
Next to the food, of all the things I miss about big city life would be the convenience of the ballpark only a few subway stops away. I ended up going to 10-15 games a season for the past few years, so it not only became a part of city living to me, but it rekindled my interest in baseball. This time around I traded the subway for a car ride up, but the experience felt weird for reasons other than transportation.
Perhaps it was the game I attended, but there was no Marlboro Man. There was no horse jockey racing his imaginary horse. I fear the Bleacher Creatures have been diluted thanks to the openness of the bleacher area, and even Freddie, who has had his problems getting in, was nowhere to be found. The grandstand felt further from the action, and the outfield display board felt distracting in all of its HD quality.
That’s not to say there weren’t things I didn’t like. For starters, I loved the return of the frieze and how the flags atop of it were ordered according to the current division standings. The seats were easily more comfortable, and the exterior limestone restored the gates to their original beauty. The Yankee Museum was a nice touch, and nearly every type of food was available (I joked at Alison about finding healthy food–only to discover a mini farmer’s market inside of Gate 4). I was also shocked–SHOCKED that they let my friend in with two bags.
One thing I do miss is the walkway circumambulating the grandstand seats. Now, one must go underneath the grandstand to walk around, and while there’s a nice balcony mid-grandstand, one wonders why they should bothering sitting in their seats when there’s a closer view at the balcony.
The bottom line: this new ballpark exemplifies New York in a different manner than its predecessor, as it trades the gritty, crowded, and tradition-laden landmark with one that features excess, accessibility, and financial exclusivity. I’m sure the place will settle into my mind more after a few more games, but it’ll definitely take some getting used to.