Monday, April 20, 2009

Our First Trip to the New Yankee Stadium

The day had finally arrived. April 19, 2009, our first trip to the new Yankee Stadium. After flip flopping on whether to drive or take the train, we opted to drive in. We departed for the Bronx early, well aware the parking situation could be a mess.

We had received the Yankees propaganda guide in the mail. You know the one, the slickly made booklet that tells everything about the Stadium, tickets, food, booze, well as a map of the available parking. It comes in handy.

For over 30 years, my friends and family have always parked in the garage on River Ave. between 162nd and 164th streets. The parking garage is now right on the other side of center field. Which means, you guessed it, the "normal" fan can no longer park there. Permit parking only. We were glad we got in early (11:08 am) since it took a half-hour to get a parking space (River Ave. was very congested with traffic).

We cursed and moved along down the road towards the old permit parking garage at 153rd and River. We laughed as we saw the lot across the street that advertised valet parking for $32. Valet? To pull your car up 10 feet. Nice work if you can get it.

The Yankees have made a huge mistake with the garage on 153rd. You do not pay as you drive in. You get a small card, which you use to pay in one of the several machines inside the parking facility. That's no problem, but there's a big problem when you go to leave. You have to put the card into a machine to get the gate to open. Which means you have to wait and wait and wait while everyone in front of you performs this task. We left well after the game ended on Sunday and the line to leave was still wrapped up to the second level of the deck.

The outside of the old Stadium suddenly looked just that, old. Graffiti has already begun to appear on the walls and the old ticket booths looked particularly lonely.

It felt a bit surreal to walk past the new Babe Ruth Plaza and up the stairs to the new Stadium. As soon as you walk through the doors, you are bombarded with noise. Mainly fans talking with one another, but also the sound of Yankees history being plated out on one of the large screens in the Great Hall. In this case, it was the Mickey Mantle Yankeeography. Very appropriate for the first trip.

The Great Hall is set up nicely. Plenty of room for people to mill about and lots of history hanging from the walls. Escalators, stairs, and elevators get you to where you want to go. In this case it was the main concourse. This is what really told you that while you were still in Kansas, Toto, the Steinbrenner of Oz had been busy.

The concourse, for the most part is spacious. A major change is that it no longer smells like urine. The ability to see out on to the field as you move about is a big plus that was already a feature of most newer stadiums.

The new videoboard is overwhelming in size and the clarity is amazing. During the game it also displayed the miles per hour for each pitch and the pitch count for each hurler. A display board to the left of the big screen showed the lineups and batter info, while a display screen on the right showed the out of town scores. It is difficult at times to pick out this information between the, what seems like hundreds, of commercial advertisements. The ads are also all over the outfield walls. We're really against this look. It's great for minor league games or spring training, but ads on the outfield walls in the majors is horrid.

Unfortunately, Monument Park was closed. We'd heard the complaints that it looked like it was hastily put together and we wanted to check it out for ourselves. The sign leading to the area is also a bit misleading. It says Mohegan Sun Bar on the same sign, so there were people (we were only fooled for a minute) in line for the bar that thought they were in line for Monument Park.

We shook our heads in disgust/amazement at the blind spots in the outfield bleachers, which otherwise would have been fantastic. It's about time that the "Creatures" finally got to roam around the rest of the park. We like the touches of putting the retired numbers and World Series winning years on the bleacher's walls, but they should have made them larger, or at least in some way, more visible.

It was time to get something to eat and head upstairs. The new food court is great, though the prices are as you would expect. Hamburger, hot dog (just a normal sized one), large fries, 2 sodas, $32. Yeah, that's sticker shock. Mrs. MM and I had a great Italian meal the night before that was only $26. Be prepared to spend $9 on a beer. We can only imagine what the hard liquor costs (it does concern us that the availability of hard liquor could lead to more unruly fans).

The seats in the lower levels are cushioned and roomy. Plenty of leg room as advertised. The same can't be said for the upper deck (grandstand) seats. The seats are a little bigger than across the street, but the leg room is the same. The biggest improvement upstairs is the gradual slope going up the stairs. No more steep climbs up and down.

The sight lines are great upstairs. It used to be you couldn't really see the right field corner if you were sitting behind home plate, but with the new layout you can. We didn't walk around the upper deck, but it looks like the view would be good from anywhere. The grandstand also has the best priced seats outside of the bleachers.

It didn't take long for the new outfield layout to come into play. Jorge Posada's seventh inning home run turned out to be the first home run to go under video review in the new place. Flashback to 1996 when Jeffrey Maier interfered with Derek Jeter's fly ball. The Yankees no longer allowed fans to stand at the edge of the right and left field walls during the game. Seats were far enough back that a fan could not interfere. That's no longer the case and it only took four games for it to become a controversial part of the game. We're for raising the walls rather than pushing the fans further back.

Seeing the old facade/frieze line the top of the Stadium was great. A throwback look indeed. That and the field level scoreboards are the only retro looking things inside the Stadium itself. This is a retro looking stadium from the outside and a very modern facility inside.

After the game we stopped in the new Yankee Museum. It's great and a must see. Memorabilia from all eras of Yankees baseball is included. It's a shame it's not larger. Just think of all they could have done with it had they created a separate building, say as part of a remaining structure across the street. But what is included is wonderful.

Bats and jerseys from Babe Ruth, Joe D., Mickey Mantle, the Scooter, Reggie Jackson, and Bernie Williams. World Series trophies from the last six championships. Statues of Don Larsen and Yogi Berra that are separated by a wall of autographed baseballs from everyone that has been associated with Yankees baseball.

For fans who began watching the team in the late 1960's/early 1970's, the most memorable of the memorabilia may be Thurman Munson's locker. It was taken from the clubhouse across the street and given a permanent home in the museum. You can't help but feel a tinge of sadness in see his jersey, cap, and bat sitting there waiting for him. We certainly did

We we took one last look around as we walked downstairs to exit. In doing so we were reminded that the security/ushers can still be a pain in the ass. We noticed someone in the outfield with young kids. We realized it was Andy Pettitte pitching to one of his sons. We were quickly reminded that the "stadium is closed" and we were to leave. Put your own epitaph here.

All in all though a very good day. Yankees won, Mariano finished up, traffic to the GWB. Just like it's supposed to be.


  1. So all in all it sounds like you really enjoyed the new stadium. Glad to hear that....


  2. I would like to agree with that statement. ;)

  3. you know im checking out the locker...


  4. I am going to the game tommorow night.Has the parking changed? We are driving from Philidelphia arriving about 3 hours before the game.Any suggestions?

  5. The easiest lot to park in is the big one right next to the old Stadium. The lot my family parked in for years is now for season ticket holders.

    There are a lot of smaller lots around, but be careful with pricing.

    Here's more info on parking