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August 14, 2009
Saving (bits of) Yankee Stadium
The push to preserve something of the original Yankee Stadium when it gets turned into a public park over the next two years continues to pick up steam, or at least rise to a low boil. Today's Daily News has another op-ed calling for saving Gate 2, the piece of the stadium exterior that most resembles how it did in 1923. (Details here.) And a recounting in the current New Yorker of a recent meeting of architects, preservationists, and Bronx community leaders to discuss the plans for "Heritage Field" revealed a certain displeasure with the "heritage" aspect:
"What is missing from the design is the architecture of the Stadium itself," [Bronx borough historian Lloyd Ultan] said, holding up a souvenir cookie tin shaped like the old Stadium. "Some people came to see me recently who were trying to save Gate 2, which has not been altered. Couldn't we preserve that as a monument?"
"Our research showed that Gate 2 had been altered," one of the planners said. "It would have to be restored."
Retorts Ben Kabak of River Avenue Blues: "So then restore it, I say."
The problems here are time and money: With the new parkland to replace what was destroyed back in 2006 for the Yankees' new stadium running behind schedule and over budget, it'd be tricky to introduce new elements that caused further delays or added costs. (Maybe if the state legislature had taken more than eight days to consider the park replacement plans, this could have been dealt with before it became a rush.) That said, it's hard to argue with Kabak:
In the end, the city should do more than create a park that sort of resembles Yankee Stadium while telling a story through staid plaques and panels in the pavement. They should be able to create a monument to a great ballpark while keeping the essence of the park alive. It is a challenge in urban planning, but after decades of tearing down history, it is one the city should meet.