As the Mets bumble through another off-season and make headlines for all the wrong reasons, the Yankees find themselves pulling far ahead of the Flushing Nine in the stadium memorabilia race as well. As The Post reported over the weekend, Yankee Stadium seats are far outselling those from Shea Stadium.
According to Melissa Klein, only 10,311 of the 16,000 Shea Stadium seat pairs put up for sale over 16 months ago have been snatched up. The Yanks, meanwhile, have sold 15,000 seats in the last eight months. To make matters worse for the Mets, the Yanks’ seats at selling at $1500 a pair while the Mets’ seats go for just $869 per duo. That’s quite the revenue disparity.
Over at NBC’s Circling the Bases, Craig Calcaterra ponders the meaning of this discrepancy. He writes, “I’d be curious to hear New Yorkers’ take on the subject, but given that the Yankee Stadium seats only date back to the mid-70s renovation at the oldest, this can’t be a matter of some overwhelmingly disparate historical relevance of the given seats. On a gut level this just seems about right in terms of weighted fandom.”
I don’t agree with Calcaterra’s take about general views of weighted fandom in New York City. When it comes to seat sales, only the diehards with money are going to drop a grand and a half on some plastic seats. While the Mets have struggled in recent years to put a good product on the field, the diehards are always there, and the Mets don’t have appreciably fewer fans than the Yanks. The team should be able to sell out 15,000 seat pairs.
Rather, I think these numbers — wide even in the face of a huge price gap — show the love people had for Yankee Stadium and the general disregard even Mets fans had for Shea Stadium. Even though Yankee Stadium lost a lot of its original character in the mid-1970s renovations and even though many of the seats and other memorabilia for sale date back to just the Reggie Jackson era and not the Babe Ruth era, Yankee Stadium was still a baseball cathedral in the Bronx. It was a spot of Mystique and Aura, and it witnessed, even in its post-renovated incarnation, magical moments. It was also a baseball destination.
In Queens, meanwhile, Shea was often called the toilet bowl of Flushing. With a moving lower bowl, it was a hybrid baseball/football stadium that was state of the art for a few years and then fell into disrepair. Even when a replacement was no sure thing, the stadium suffered through years of tough love. The site lines were bad; the upper decks far recessed; and the amenities bare bones. It was just another cookie-cutter stadium built in a parking lot surrounded by chop shops. Can you blame the Queens faithful for wanting to put the Shea Stadium past behind him?
In the end, the seats will sell, and the stadiums will fade into baseball memory. One of them — that House in the Bronx — will live on in memory. The other will become a relic of a bad era of stadium architecture, and that is why the seats won’t go quickly into the night.