Now that the construction crews have gotten to work on the new New York Yankees stadium – latest reports are that they’ve begun cutting down trees in Macombs Dam Park, and breaking up a rock formation that is in the way of the planned main entryway – people are coming out of the woodwork to say how they feel about the pending death of the House That Ruth Built. A sampling:
The new Yankee Stadium, or whatever it winds up being called, will be better for George M. Steinbrenner III, former shipbuilder from Cleveland who 33 years ago pulled off the biggest heist in this town since Peter Minuit stole Manhattan from the Lenapes for a handful of beads.
But better for the fans?
Do you like the idea of paying even more for your seat than the already league-high ticket prices at Yankee Stadium? Do you not mind the prospect of being shut out of a game because the new park will have between 5,000 and 7,000 fewer seats? Are you OK with the idea of cozying up on the couch in front of the TV set because that is now the only seat for a Yankees game you can afford? Have you grown accustomed to seeing one precious bit of New York history after another fall to the wrecker’s ball?
If you answered yes to any or all of those questions, then The Boss is right. The new Yankee Stadium will be better for you.
Real Yankee fans will remember the Babe’s house warmly. But they will burst with pride that the best Boss in baseball has given them the best new ballpark in the USA. It will outscore the old one in every way.
You don’t just level Yankee Stadium, the same way you don’t just level Fenway Park or Wrigley Field. You paint them, renovate them, equip them with new bathrooms and modern, fan-friendlier ways of watching the game.
But you don’t reduce them to dust and ash for an extra 40 luxury boxes and a happier bottom line.
…Baseball’s richest team will get richer, at least in the pocketbook. But tearing down Yankee Stadium makes the world’s most celebrated ballclub poorer in every other way.
The current Yankee Stadium, opened in 1923 and rebuilt in 1974-75, is an outmoded dump. It does not work on any level, except to inspire awe. The physical plant does not handle contemporary XL hips – or egos.
With all due respect to museum pieces like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park (and I cannot wait to go back to quaint, refurbished Fenway this weekend), the Yankees need a new stadium. So do the Mets, who are also getting one, Shea Stadium being worse than a dump – a nondescript dump. But these enterprises take money and energy and land and priorities. And sometimes the people wind up jogging on the sidewalk instead of on a track.
Until all this Yankee progress gets done, the folks who live near old or future Yankee Stadium can go play in the street, and try not to get hit by the visiting limos and Hummers.
It was a great celebration, except that when you looked past Steinbrenner’s shoulders, into the distance, the sights were downright mournful on the 58th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s death. This was a funeral, too, not just a birthing.
There were regal, graceful trees that would soon be gone, and a very famous stadium that would be chopped down to a watermelon slice. On the streets, there were neighborhood residents protesting the loss of McCombs Dam Park. There were fans, such as Tina Lewis from Section 39, making nervous phone calls, worrying already about ticket prices and how the Bleacher Creatures will have to move from right to left field.
This is one of those projects that is a win-win-win for everybody unless you just don’t like anything.
Hey, it is named after me, after all.