Soccer and metal detectors for the Stadium’s seventh season [2015 Season Preview]

Although Mike promised an end to the season preview series with his excellent haikus, I’m here to break that promise. Mike’s and Joe’s exhaustive previews touched on everything but the stadium, and while Yankee Stadium in its seventh season isn’t undergoing major changes, there are a few additions — not all welcome — to the House That George Built. So as fans start to line up in a few hours for another season of Yankee baseball in the Bronx, what changes can they expect to see this year?

Another summer at the Ballpark in the Bronx looms. (Via River Ave. Blues on Instagram)
Another summer at the Ballpark in the Bronx looms. (Via River Ave. Blues on Instagram)

All fans screened via metal detectors

It’s been a long time coming, but 2015 marks a turning point for security at Yankee Stadium. Under pressure from outside security consultants, every MLB fan will be screened as they enter the Stadium, and the screening won’t just involve a cursory glance through the contents of a bag. This year, the Stadium will feature metal detectors and wanding at every entrance.

According to an email the Yankees sent out this weekend to their fans, the new screening procedures are part of an effort, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, to “elevate and standardize security practices across the game.” The Yankees are warning fans to arrive early and budget extra time for security, but for many trying to catch first pitch of a 7:05 game after a day in the office, this suggestion ranges from impractical to infeasible. I know plenty of fans who have a tough time arriving for first pitch without added security, and I fear this move will simply push fans to watch more games from one. I know one season ticket holder willing to give up her package if the security lines take too long.

The Yankees recognize the challenges, but the early indications are that this screening will lead to long lines. The Barclays Center has struggled to move fans through metal detectors, and even in the Bronx, NYCFC fans faced disorganized and slow screening procedures in March. The utility of this move — which sounds more akin to security theater than actual security — is up for debate as well.

“We will do everything we can to minimize the entry time to Yankee Stadium,” team COO Lonn Trost said in a statement. “However, proper screening as mandated by Major League Baseball requires a longer and more elaborate entry process than fans may be accustomed to. We urge fans to arrive as early as possible, and we appreciate their understanding as we try to ensure their security.”

Soccer in the Stadium

Speaking of NYCFC, 2015 marks a milestone in the Steinbrenner family initiative to bring more than just baseball to Yankee Stadium. We’ve seen a few soccer friendlies in the past and some off-season football games, but this year — and until their stadium scenario is clarified — New York City FC and the New York Yankees will be sharing the Stadium.

Throughout the baseball season, NYCFC will play 17 home games in the Bronx, and as Dan Barbarisi explored a few weeks ago, Yankee fielders are expecting the worst for their playing surface. “It’ll definitely cause an issue, but it’s nothing that we can control, so we can’t worry about it,” Mark Teixeira said to The Wall Street Journal reporter. “It’s terrible for a field.”

Barbarisi detailed the initiatives in place to guard against field damage. The grounds crew will have a few days to restore the grass following soccer games, and the pitcher’s mound isn’t in the field of play on the soccer pitch. Still, the players recognize that they need to watch the new grass; Brett Gardner speaks to The Journal knowingly about root systems and turf patches. The Front Office though maintains the grass will be fine, but they have much to lose.

Hopefully, sharing the field won’t put the Yankee defenders at risk of injury or error, but they know it’s going to be a concern this season. “I’m going to fall on the side of erring aggressively,” Brendan Ryan said, “much, much more so than staying back and trying to read some hop that’s unpredictable.”

A very slightly improved Stadium beer scene

As those who follow me on Twitter know, I’m a big fan of craft beer (Untappd!), but I’m not a big fan of the Yankee Stadium beer situation. While Stone has set up shop in Petco Stadium, Boulevard fills cups in Kauffman Stadiu, and the Mariners are known for their beer selections, due to the demands of the dollar, Yankee Stadium is exclusively the home of InBev-Anheuser Busch products. Thanks to recent acquisitions by InBev, Yankee fans can now find Blue Point beers, and a recent photo from an NYCFC game shows Long Trail available too (though the Vermont brewery is not connected to InBev). It’s a step in the right direction, albeit a small one, and I yearn for the day when we can find a Bronx Brewery beer at the Stadium or even a SingleCut, Finback or Other Half brew.

Reggie Jackson is selling the old Yankee Stadium letters

(AP)
Yes, those letters. (AP)

So, have you ever wanted to own the giant letters that spelled out “Yankee Stadium” on the facade of the old ballpark? Well now you can! Reggie Jackson, who purchased the letters after the old Stadium was torn down, is selling them through Sotheby’s and hopes to raise $300,000 to $600,000, according to David Li.

When I first came across this story this morning, I thought some old historic handwritten letters found in the bowels of the old Yankee Stadium were up for sale. But no, these are literally the giant letters that spelled out “Yankee Stadium.” Here’s more from Li:

“I see this auction as an opportunity for a new generation to own and enjoy this icon of the Yankees and of New York City,” Jackson said in a statement released by Sotheby’s.

“There were a few items I wanted to purchase before the old Yankee Stadium was torn down, including my old locker and a section of the black bleachers off of center field. But I kept thinking about the stadium lettering, and if there was any way for me to own it. I ended up making an offer, and was thrilled when it was accepted – it’s been a privilege to own such a recognizable piece of baseball history.”

The 13 letters each stand ten feet high and are constructed out of an aluminum casing and blue plexiglass. I have no idea how wide or deep the letters are, but chances are they weigh a few hundred pounds each. The letters were added to the facade following the 1976 renovation and remained there until the place was torn down after 2008.

Owning a piece of the old Yankee Stadium like this would be really awesome. Practical? Hell no. But awesome? Hell yes. If I was a) rich, and b) had some place to display these giant letters, I’d be all about it. But I’m not, so forget it.

No concerns about Yankee Stadium field after NYCFC announces schedule

(REUTERS/Adam Hunger)
(REUTERS/Adam Hunger)

Early last year we learned Major League Soccer’s newest expansion franchise — New York City Football Club — will play its 2015 home games at Yankee Stadium. It’s believed NYCFC will also call the Bronx home in 2016 and 2017 as they look for their own stadium, but right now only the 2015 season has been confirmed. The Yankees own one-quarter of NYCFC.

NYCFC announced its 17-game home schedule earlier this week, which you can see right here. The MLS schedule runs from March through October, so it overlaps with the MLB season entirely. NYCFC will play their first home game on March 15th, while the Yankees are still in Tampa for Spring Training, and their final game on October 25th, right smack in the middle of the postseason.

Needless to say, having two teams playing two different sports share the same ballpark all season is less than ideal, but the Yankees have no concerns about the field itself. They said so when the entered into the agreement with NYCFC and reiterated it again earlier this week. From Dan Barbarisi:

“We have the greatest grounds crew and stadium operations people in the world,” (team president Randy) Levine said. “We feel very confident. We wouldn’t have done this unless we feel very confident that the field will be perfect for both soccer and baseball.”

Yankee Stadium has hosted soccer games before, including an exhibition game between Manchester City and Chelsea in May 2013, during which temporary grass was laid over the outfield. Perhaps that’s what they’ll do this year, though I’m sure doing that once is much different than doing it every other week. Here’s more from Barbarisi:

Yankee Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost has estimated that it will take three days (2½ in a pinch) to turn over the field from soccer to baseball. The schedule allows for three full days after every NYCFC home game before the Yankees take the field on the fourth day—save one, when NYCFC hosts the Montreal Impact on Aug. 1, before the Yankees host the rival Boston Red Sox just three days later.

Then there is the matter of Oct. 25, when NYCFC is scheduled to host the New England Revolution, a date that also figures to be right around the start of the World Series. If the Yankees make it that far, a person with knowledge of the situation said, several contingencies exist for handling the soccer game, including the use of other sites, ensuring that baseball’s postseason would not be affected.

Barbarisi hears the pitcher’s mound will not interfere with the soccer pitch and won’t have to be torn down and rebuilt every time NYCFC plays a game. That’s … reassuring? I am worried about the condition of the field next season, especially in the second half after it’s had a few months to get chewed up by the two sports and all the transitions back and forth.

I’m also certain the Yankees wouldn’t have committed to letting NYCFC play in Yankee Stadium if they weren’t confident the field would be in good shape. They have one expensive baseball team and those players are investments they’re trying to protect. I guess we’ll just have to see how this goes as the season progresses.

Metal detectors coming to Yankee Stadium on August 19th

Metal detectors will be in place and operation at the various Yankee Stadium entrances starting August 19th, the Yankees announced. There will be MLB-mandated metal detectors at every ballpark starting next season. Fans who opt not to go through the walk-through metal detector can be checked manually with a wand. Here is the full press release. We’re all going to have to start getting to the ballpark a little earlier than usual. Not a fan of this, but it is what it is.

It’s official: NYC Football Club will play home games in Yankee Stadium in 2015

As expected, the New York City Football Club will play its home games in Yankee Stadium during the 2015 season, it was announced. The expansion Major League Soccer franchise was unable to build a stadium of their own, so they will play in the Bronx for the time being. The Yankees co-own the team along with Manchester City. Although only the 2015 season was announced, NYCFC is expected to spend three years total in Yankee Stadium while they secure a facility of their own.

Report: Expansion NY MLS franchise will play in Yankee Stadium for three years

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Last summer the Yankees teamed up with Manchester City to become part owners of Major League Soccer’s latest expansion franchise, the appropriately named New York City Football Club. It is the second MLS franchise in the area, joining the New York Red Bulls. The Yankees reportedly own a quarter of NYCFC and their involvement has mostly to do with concessions (Legends Hospitality) and their New York political ties.

According to the New York Times, NYCFC has been unable to find a permanent home. Community opposition derailed plans for a stadium at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, and rumors of a facility between the Major Deegan and East 153rd St. have not materialized. Because of this, the club will play it’s home games at Yankee Stadium for the next three (!) years. NYCFC must secure a location and build a stadium within that time, which does not figure to be easy considering how things have played out over the last year.

Yankee Stadium has hosted several soccer and non-baseball events over the years, though most were held during the offseason. Manchester City and Chelsea played an exhibition game in the Bronx last May while the Yankees were on an eight-game road trip. Temporary grass was laid over the infield (see the photo above) and I assume that is the plan for the next three years. The MLB and MLS seasons both run from March to October, so there is plenty of overlap. Here’s more from the Times:

A Yankees executive emphasized to reporters earlier this year that a potential shared space was not a concern, saying the Yankees “realized what we were getting into” when they went into their M.L.S. partnership with Manchester City.

At an event in February to announce a summer exhibition game between Manchester City and Liverpool, Mark Holtzman, the Yankees’ executive director of nonbaseball events, said the team generally required several days to prepare for events and then several more to repair the playing surface for baseball. But he also noted that since its opening in 2009, the stadium has hosted soccer games as well as a schedule of summer concerts.

Obviously wear and tear is a pretty big concern. The MLS schedule runs 34 games, which means one home game every two weeks or so, on average. Back-to-back NYCFC home games and stuff like that could really tear up the field. There’s also the matter of removing and rebuilding the pitcher’s mound. That said, Holtzman and the Yankees are not concerned.

“Technology has gotten to the point where I think we can turn it around pretty quickly,” Holtzman said.

“Baseball is clearly the No. 1 priority,” he added. “We wouldn’t do anything to put anyone at any risk; there’s a major investment here in the players. At the end of the day, we look at these opportunities very carefully, and we wouldn’t get into these opportunities unless we were confident in the end result.”

NYCFC will begin play during the 2015 season. An official announcement of their temporary move into Yankee Stadium is expected next week.