New stadium, on target, to feature familiar Yankee Stadium field dimensions

Rumors of Jose Tabata's demise have been greatly exaggerated
Where have you gone, Larry Bowa?

In less than 11 months, fans will be streaming through these gates. (Photo by flickr user BenYankee. For more of my stadium photos, check out this flickr set)

You know me; I love writing about the new stadium. How could I possibly let an off-day go by without mentioning something — anything — about the House that A-Rod Built? Well, I can’t, and happened to provide me with one of the more in-depth pieces on the stadium we’ve seen in a long time.

Let’s just jump right into Barry Bloom’s latest on the stadium. First off, we hear that the new stadium has reached its apex, and construction is right on schedule:

They topped off the last bit of white steel, high above what will be the wrap-around scoreboard and gigundo video screen at the new Yankee Stadium this past Thursday.

And around the construction site, many of the upbeat workers are wearing dark blue buttons with the name of the famous ballpark in white capital letters set above this date: Feb. 17, 2009, less than two months before Opening Day.

“That’s when we’re turning the stadium over to the Yankees,” said Harry Olsen, the project manager for the company that’s overseeing the construction and site.

As we already know, the new stadium design is heavily influenced by pre-renovation Yankee Stadium. “This new stadium is different,” Yankees President Randy Levine said, comparing the stadium in progress to the one we know and love. “There may never be another one like it.”

Writes Bloom:

Yankees officials dug up those first Yankee Stadium architectural plans, and from it, they are remaking the famous curved and striped “frieze” that hovers high above the bleachers in the renovated ballpark, putting it where it once was: running around the stadium below the lights on the fringe of the upper-deck overhang, from left field all the way around to right.

Secondly, they replicated the monumental Gate 4 entrance, cast in limestone with each letter of the words “YANKEE STADIUM” set between stone emblems and chiseled in gold leaf. The limestone façade gives it a decidedly old-time texture and runs most of the way around the new ballpark.

“And it’s built to last for the next 50 years or more,” Olsen said.

But the real meat of the article — the devil, if you will — is in the details. We finally have the field configuration information; according to Bloom, the field dimensions will be exactly the same to those in current Yankee Stadium. Bloom says that the field will be “318 feet down the left-field line; 314 feet down the right-field line; 408 feet in dead center; 399 feet in left-center, and 385 in right-center.” All of the Yankee fans worried about a boring symmetrical outfield can breathe easy.

Even more enticing is Bloom’s descriptions of the seating confirguration:

It will seat 53,000, but somehow, as learned on a recent tour that traversed almost every nook and cranny of the new facility, every one of those seats has an unencumbered view of home plate, even though the new stadium reaches about the same height as the existing one.

Most are much closer to the field than the current stadium, where the catcher squats about 70 feet from the backstop. In the new park, that distance will be about 50 feet. The grade, which seems nearly flat at 35 percent in the current lower deck, has been changed to a much steeper 45 percent. That’s akin to a pitcher peering down from a mound 10 feet above the ground, as opposed to a mound that’s about six feet high. There are also many fewer rows in each deck.

Every time I go to a game this year — and my trip this Wednesday will be my fifth of the season — I look across 161th St. with a mixture of wonder and trepidation. I don’t want to see Yankee Stadium, one of the few places in New York City that’s been a constant for my entire life, to meet the fate of Polo Grounds or Ebbets Field. I don’t want to see the Yankees leave their hallowed grounds and knock down the ghosts of the Babe, the Mick and Joe D. With the echoes of 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 still reverberating through the stadium, it will be hard to leave for that final time in September or October.

But at the same time, New Yankee Stadium looks every bit as beautiful as a $1.3 billion baseball temple should be. I’m excited to see the new stadium and explore a new home ballpark. It will be historical, intimate and brand new at the same time. It’s easy to pacify uneasy fans with the promise of a new toy, and that’s just what this new Yankee Stadium is. I just wish we didn’t have to say good bye to the old Yankee Stadium at the same time.

Rumors of Jose Tabata's demise have been greatly exaggerated
Where have you gone, Larry Bowa?
  • Stephen

    I hear you about the mixed feelings. I think that feelings on the new stadium are, as much as anything, generational. My Dad doesn’t feel particularly nostalgic because, to him, this was never the real Yankee Stadium. He doesn’t see the Stadium of Mantle and DiMaggio, he says that hasn’t been around since the ’70s. Of course, it’s different with me. I’m too young to have gone to the old Stadium and this is where all I had all my formative baseball experiences as well as my happiest baseball memories. I’m certainly going to miss the place.

  • Neil

    Your last two paragraphs are my sentiments exactly. It’s going to be great to enjoy all of the “firsts” in a new ballpark though. First HR. First win. First series sweep. And, of course, our first WS title in the new Yankee Stadium: 2009!

  • RichYF

    Off-topic, but I don’t feel like sending an email.

    If I go to I almost always get the “mobile version”

    If I go to I get the normal version.

    Any explanation for this?

    • Joseph P.

      I think I know what it is. Not sure how to fix it, but we’ll start tinkering.

      • RichYF

        Alright, as long as I’m not going crazy. It sucks because I usually go “r-i-v-down-enter” when I’m typing into firefox, but is the best match whereas is the second, so I always end up at the mobile version.

        And then I cry.

    • dan

      same thing happens to me. But I realized that despite how it looks, I actually prefer clicking each post so that I can either comment on them more easily or not have to click “read more” in the middle of a post.

    • Ben K.

      That’s odd. It should just redirect to the non-www page. What browser are you using?

  • Mike P

    The new park seems pretty good. But I think they got it badly wrong with the upper deck. It should be much bigger as that is possibly the most defining feature of the current park. It also would allow more cheap seats so you’d get slightly less of the rippin off that’s going to happen.

    I know it didn’t make perfect sense economically… just saying for the fans, you know, it would have been great.

  • Manimal

    I saw it with my own eyes for the first time yesterday, I will post pictures later.

  • Mike N (Stamford, CT)

    The new stadium is like a rainy Saturday Afternoon. It sucks but the is nothing you can do about it.

    Also, “The House that A-Rod built”? Shouldn’t it be “the House that George Built”?

    • LiveFromNewYork

      that’s harsh. I think the new stadium is sorely needed and can’t wait to get there!

      • Batty

        What exactly is needed about it?

        • Joseph P.

          Have you ever been to the Stadium?

  • neil d

    “Most are much closer to the field than the current stadium, where the catcher squats about 70 feet from the backstop. In the new park, that distance will be about 50 feet.”

    This is like arguing that all the seats at Yankee Stadium got better when they added those couple of rows of VIP seats between the dugouts. I guarantee that if you did a seat-by-seat comparison, the ones in the new stadium would be farther from the field, especially in the upper deck.

    Also, the field dimensions being the same isn’t news, is it? I remember that as part of the original announcement back in June 2005.

  • Rob_in_CT

    Hmm… dropping the foul territory behind the backstop will probably make it slightly more of a hitter’s park (other effects, like wind patterns, notwithstanding). I’m happy to hear about the upper deck seats, though. It was my impression that with the wide concourses, the nosebleed seats would require binoculars.

  • GoYankees

    The next Yankee Stadium will have a retractable dome and a monitor in front of each seat so we can watch the 2 second delayed shot from center field.

  • Jen

    Has there been any mention of the position of home plate? It seems the field is going to be at a slightly different angle than the current one. I’m wondering how that’s gong to affect sun conditions during day games.

  • Jen

    Oh and I also have an extra bleacher seat for the game tonight. Email me at muller8 AT gmail DOT com if interested. Have one for tomorrow too.

  • Count Zero

    Very nice piece Ben — I think most of us feel the same way about the change.

  • My Pet Goat

    The Yankees currently have ARod, not George Herman Ruth. And in case you haven’t noticed the organization is brimming with right handed power arms, with little in the way of lefties. Shouldn’t the Yanks flip the dimensions and have a short porch in left? Sacrilegious, but from a competitive standpoint it makes sense and all but guarantees Bonds’ record for Alex.

  • californiac

    Ben, when are you going to sneak in to give us a video tour?

    • Ben K.

      You can’t imagine how badly I want to do that. Security’s really tight around the construction zone though.

  • Steve

    The TRUE Yankee Stadium died on Septemer 30, 1973 when Mike Hegan flied out to centerfield. While many new memories have been created in the current ballpark (and more will be created in the new), there was and never will be anything like the old Stadium.

    – 296′ down the rightfield line
    – short walls in left and right
    – monuments on the field
    – the original facade

    I’d give anything to go back to the pre-1973 Stadium, just for one game…