A new Stadium, but at what cost?By
Premium seats, marked in yellow, will sell for a pretty penny at the New Yankee Stadium.
Earlier this week, the Yankees launched a new Web site detailing seating options at the New Yankee Stadium. Welcome to Yankees Premium, the Web site says. The pages within hold “an exclusive experience for those with discerning tastes who seek the very best that life has to offer.”
What this flashy flash introduction neglects to tell the unsuspecting viewer is that this an exclusive experience for those with very deep pockets as well. But is anyone really surprised?
For the Yankees, this new stadium isn’t about necessity, and it sure wasn’t about history. Say what you will about the renovations in the 1970s, but Yankee Stadium, man, it has some history. It had Gehrig and Ruth and DiMaggio and Mantle and Reggie and Mattingly and the late 1990s. Sure, the concourses were a bit narrow, but if the Red Sox can eke our more seats in Fenway, the Yanks could have found a way to make their current stadium more hospitable for the 4.2 million fans who made the pilgrimage up the Bronx last year. They could have improved the food offerings and renovated the bathrooms.
But that would have left the Yankees right where they are now: with too few options to sell premium seats and too few options to milk money out of the luxury-box cash cows that ring more modern stadiums. They could have made Yankee Stadium nicer, but they couldn’t retrofit it with the proper money-making amenities.
Now, at this point, regular readers may just roll their eyes. “There goes Ben. He’s off on one of his anti-new Yankee Stadium rants,” the thinking goes. But wait. That flashy Web site the Yankees have put together is a treasure trove of information that proves my point, and the ones who are going to lose out when this new stadium opens are you and me, the obsessed fan who isn’t backed by Corporate America.
Last week, when I posted on the recently-spiking top ticket prices at Yankee Stadium, the unspoken conclusion was “watch out.” If you think ticket prices at Yankee Stadium are bad this year, wait until next year when the action moves across the street.
Now, draw your attention to the diagram at the top of this post. Those yellow bands are all a part of the new Yankee Stadium premium seating experience. I am dismayed to note that those yellow bands include my Tier Reserve seats right behind home plate. At the old Stadium, those are the best seats in the house. The seats hang low behind the plate, and the view from foul pole to foul pole is expansive.
At the new Yankee Stadium, those seats are a part of the Terrace Level Outdoor Suite, and prices are going to start at $100 per seat per game. Remember when those used to cost $30 in the late 1990s? Those were the days.
For that $100 price tag, guests of the Yankees will enjoy myriad services during their “seating experience” (the Yanks’ words; not mine). Fans will have access to a climate-controlled indoor lounge with private restrooms, HD TVs, food and a four-sided bar. Need I mention that there are 1300 of those seats? You do the math.
Meanwhile, on the lower levels, the Main Level Outdoor Suite, designated by the middle yellow band above, will occupy 1200 of the choicest seats. This time, guests who shell out at least $350 per seat per game will get access to their own lounge with the same amenities as the Terrace Level folks plus an espresso bar. Also available will be “a generous menu selection, featuring savory ethnic cuisine, traditional ballpark fare and made-to-order brick oven pizza, continues to underscore this world-class experience.”
Finally, we arrive at the field level boxes, now known as the Legends Suite. For a starting price of $500 per seat per game, you can enjoy field-level views from one of 1800 seats — with teak arms — that ring the field and dugouts. And what else do you get for the money? “You will delight in the premium amenities, including cushioned seats with teak arms, in-seat wait service, concierge services, private restrooms and a delectable selection of all-inclusive food and beverages. Exclusive access to the bi-level Legends Suite Club and two Legends Suite Dugout Lounges, helps make the Legends Suite the most coveted ticket in sports,” the Yanks say.
So outside of the new 74-seat, $700-per seat per game Club Suite section, now we know how the Yankees are going to repurpose and remarket some of the best seats in the house. And unsurprisingly, this new Stadium really is all about the money.
I hate to ring bells of doom and gloom, but I fear for the ability to go to games. There’s nothing better than heading up to a Yankee game on a warm summer afternoon to watch the Bombers play. But when the new Stadium opens in little more than a year, it will turn from a game to “an experience.” While these premium seats account for 4300 seats, that still leaves around 48,000 more for the rest of us, but the ticket prices, if these early warning signs are any indication, will be astronomical. The bleacher seats will sell for $20 or more, and the prices for the good seats — those not snatched up by season-ticket holders and the corporate accounts the Yankees will court — will make it next to impossible for anyone on a budget to go to more than a few per season.
The Yankees will get their $1.2 billion stadium. It will be fancy and luxurious. But at what cost to the rest of us?