This is a guest post by Ross at New Stadium Insider.
According to the always-handy NSI attendance tracker, the Yankees broke their single game attendance record at the new Yankee Stadium last night. We’re only halfway through the inaugural campaign, but it is significant that the Yankees reached the 49,000 mark without the benefit of selling standing room only tickets. Even with this large crowd in attendance, something was still missing.
From the moment we walked into the stadium, it was obvious that this crowd was different than others thus far in 2009. Scanning the majestic new structure, empty seats were few and far between, even in the hard to sell “Legends” seats. Impressively, there was only a smattering of Red Sox fans in attendance, a significant departure from recent installments of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry in the Bronx.
As Michael Kay noted on last night’s television broadcast, it seemed that this was the first time that fans had come to see the game and not just to tour the facility. Kay, while eternally hyperbolic, made a valid point – if you walked around the stadium, you would have noticed shorter concession lines and a seating bowl that was filled to near-capacity.
It was definitely a relief to experience this “big game” atmosphere, especially after embarrassing new stadium debacles such as the Phillies series, when visiting fans took over and made themselves heard . However, we still have a bone to pick with Yankees fans, or perhaps even with the stadium. At the old Yankee Stadium – and other great home parks such as Fenway – crowd noise builds in anticipation of a big moment. So far in 2009, the new Yankee Stadium has had small bursts of overwhelming crowd noise, but those have typically been in response to a big moment. The wall of sound that engulfs you and makes you feel like you are a part of something truly special conspicuously absent.
We are left wondering whether that wall of sound will ever return. Is the significantly further recessed (and partially covered) upper deck to blame? Are the fans that can afford to attend games at the new Yankee Stadium even more corporate than the fans at the old one? Did the 6,000 – 7,000 extra seats in the old place make a huge difference in terms of crowd noise? We probably need to wait until the new Yankee Stadium hosts a playoff series to draw any reasonable conclusions, but as of now, we’re disappointed.