Archive for Yankee Stadium
As the Yankees designed and built their new stadium, they did so with one overriding goal in mind: The team wanted to capture as much Yankee-related revenue as possible. The old House that Ruth Built was short on souvenir space, and the sports memorabilia and merchandise stores across the street from the old stadium filled that void. The new stadium though features two massive retail stores that better capture dollars fans used to spend along River Ave. and 161st St., and businesses have been hurting outside the stadium.
As WNYC’s Ailsa Chang details, the stores in the surrounding area are seeing precipitous drops in revenue as new human traffic patterns take them out of the neighborhood and into the ballpark. Some stores are reporting revenue losses between 30-60 percent, and the neighborhood could soon be hurting commercially as the new stadium represents a self-contained baseball experience.
There is, however, a twist as some local business leaders say the stadium merchants aren’t adapting to the new multi-use aspect of the ballpark. “The Yankee Stadium venue is a world-class venue, and it’s going to attract world-class events — concerts, football, hockey and the like,” Cary Goodman, head of the 161st St. BID said. “And each of these has a different constituency, and they’re also consumers for different products.”
Yankee Stadium hosts a sporting event this weekend as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish take on the Army Black Knights in the new stadium’s inaugural football game. For the Yanks, this is a key moment for the House that George Built because they need this non-baseball events to be successful to help offset the costs of building the new facility, and early indications are that this game will have more than 51,000 fans in attendance.
If you’re still looking for tickets or thinking about going at the spur of the moment, our partners at TiqIQ have over 360 tickets available, and their numbers show that the game at Yankee Stadium is outpacing the game Notre Dame played against Navy at the new Meadowlands Stadium last month.
Meanwhile, for those bound for the stadium, Metro-North will be running extra trains through the Yankee Stadium stop both before and after the game. The full details for train service are right here.
The Yankees unveiled their 2011 ticket prices this afternoon, and while most prices will not go up, the team announced increases for six price points including the bleachers. While most tickets that are witnessing an increase will go up by $5, the $12 bleacher seats will now cost $15 for both season-ticket packages and single-game sales. The $5 obstructed-view seats will remain as such, and the Yankees are not cutting any ticket prices this year.
Yankees’ COO Lonn Trost spoke this afternoon with Mike Francesa about the rationale behind the ticket increases, and he explained how the team used the secondary market to gauge demand. Since the Yanks routinely saw bleacher seats sold at 175 percent mark-ups, the team determined they could raise the prices and opted for a 25-percent mark-up. The 2011 ticket prices are listed at the Yankees’ website, and I’ll try to summarize the key increases.
While 54 percent of Yankee Stadium seats will still be priced at $50 or less, a good portion of the seats in the lower levels will see increases. In the Main Level, Sections 205-209 and 231-234, prices are increasing by $5 from $45 to $50 for a full season and $50 to $55 for partial ticket holders. Seats in sections 210-212 and 228-230 will rise from $60-$65 for full packages, but partials will stay at $70. Main level seats in sections 213-214b and 226-227b will increase from $75 to $80.
At the field level, rows 12-30 in sections 116-124 will increase to $260 full plan holders. Game-day ticket prices for these seats will increase from $300 to $325. Season tickets for the field level, rows 15-30 in sections 112-113 and 127b-128 and rows 1-14 in sections 108-11 and 129-131 will now cost $110 for a full plan holders and $115 for partial plan holders. Rows 15-30 in sections 108-111 and 129-131 will now cost $80 for full plans.
In addition to the prices that are going up, Trost mentioned that the team will soon be selling ticket packages for multiple seasons that are locked in at the purchase price. For example, fans who buy tickets for three years at the 2011 price point won’t have to pay for price increases in the years that covered by the initial purchase contract.
Of course, no one wants to see ticket prices increase, but Trost’s claims bear out the increase. He says that the Yanks are constantly playing to 95 percent capacity, and even when the seats appear empty on TV, the tickets have been sold. Either fans are no-shows — which happens a small percentage of the time — or they are wandering the stadium. The Yankee Museum, Trost said, has been a very popular in-game destination, and the various bars and restaurants have drawn fans away from their seats as well.
Essentially, the increases are a prime example of ticket economics at work. The Yankees might be increasing their payroll and know that the secondary market supports higher prices. The team wants to and can capture that revenue. Thus, many people will be paying more for their tickets come 2011.
Yanks “expecting a sell-out” for Saturday’s Army/Notre Dame game
During his interview with Francesa, Trost spoke about the debut of college football at Yankee Stadium. Because the new stadium cost so much to build, the Yankees need it to become a year-round venue, and Trost has spent a lot of time working to ensure a smooth game on Saturday. If ticket sales are any indication, he will succeed.
The team has sold 51,000 tickets for the game, and while a few seats remain, the club is “expecting a sell-out.” Astute readers will note that Yankee Stadium’s baseball capacity is under that 51,000 mark, and Trost says they’ve added seats by installing temporary bleachers in the bullpens and on the field. For those heading to the game, Metro-North is running extra trains as well.
While browsing YouTube this morning, I came across this piece of Yankee Stadium history. It’s a video shot on Super 8 from the mid-1970s showing the old stadium in various stages of renovation. The opening scenes show the skeleton of the Tier rising above the original 1923 shell.
A good portion of RAB readers weren’t alive when the House that Ruth Built underwent renovations 36 years ago, and the lasting memories those of us who grew up with the Yankees in the 1980s have are of the post-renovation stadium. Despite the history we witnessed at Yankee Stadium II, many fans maintained that the renovations ripped the soul out of the historic park. The dimensions and atmosphere changed, and while the ghosts lingered, their shadows dimmed.
The video tracks the renovations, and after the five minutes elapsed, I grew mournful of the old home. The team and its fans have fully embraced the new ballpark, but I’ll always have the memories of old Yankee Stadium even as the ballpark fades from the physical landscape of New York City.
We originally posted this video early today on the RAB Bullpen. That’s our new Tumblr account, and we’re using it to highlight random Yankee tidbits, photographs and articles that we find across the web. Add it to your RSS feed and follow us if you’re on Tumblr.
Yankee fans who opt to drive to the Bronx next season may find themselves in for a new round of sticker shock. Due to lower-than-expected revenue and the looming threat of default on a bond payment, Bronx Parking Development, the owner of the stadium parking garages, will raise parking rates as much as 50 percent for the 2011 season. Barring an off-season restructuring of the parking lot bonds, a spot in the lots will now cost at least $35 while the valet option will reach $45.
It never made much sense for the city of New York to surround Yankee Stadium with parking lots. Because of the fast, easy and cheap access provided by the IRT and IND subways, relatively few Yankee fans drive to the games as it is, and the new Metro-North stop made transit access that much easier (and cheaper). Yet, even though on-street parking remained an option and the rates at the Gateway Shopping Mall lots are just $10, the city expanded the number of stadium spots from 6500 to 9127 against the wishes of Bronx politicians and community leaders.
The move has been a debacle from the start. This year, for instance, when the Red Sox were in town, BPD reported just 5600 paid costumers. To add insult to injury, New York selected a company with a history of defaulting on bond payments to build the lots.
Last month, I reported that BPD was facing a revenue crisis. Because the company saw just $4.8 million in revenue — half of its initial estimates — BPD was in danger of defaulting on its payments. Parking rates would inevitably have to increase for 2011, and as Juan Gonzalez reports today, that is exactly what’s going to happen. He reports:
Even at [$35 per car], the garages will still fall into a technical default unless two-thirds of bondholders agree to waive some requirements in the original construction bonds.
Bronx Parking barely managed to make a $6.8 million bond payment that was due Oct. 1 and will likely not have enough cash to make its next $6.8 million due in April. Without the waiver, the company warned, it will be forced to charge a minimum of $55 per car next year to avoid a default.
“The truth of the matter is, the whole thing’s a mess,” said one financial adviser to several bondholders. “If the city doesn’t step in, there’s no way Bronx Parking can pay back the money it took to build those garages.”
This story just gets messier and messier as it progresses. The city’s Economic Development Corporation seemingly flushed taxpayer money down the drain in selection Bronx Parking Development as well. They granted the company $237 million in tax-free bonds and gave it $100 million as well. This is money we’re likely never to see returned to New York’s empty coffers.
For now, the bondholders are struggling to restructure the company’s finances in order to avoid a default, but as Gonzalez points out, higher rates will do nothing to stem this financial bleeding. As parking rates go up, more and more fans will choose to reach the stadium via transit.
Bronx officials meanwhile are urging the city to correct this project’s deep flaws. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz wants the city to sell off the excess garage space for “other development projects” that will better benefit the South Bronx area. Said one Bronx politician to the Daily News, “We don’t need a wasteland of empty garages in this borough.”
Lost in all the chaos of yesterday’s press conferences, the Yankees are re-sodding the infield. A few of the beat writers were snapping photos of what you see above and posting them on Twitter. From what I understand, the entire diamond – the grass surrounding the pitcher’s mound – is completely gone as well after today’s work. I”m not sure if the outfield will follow. They might just be replacing the high traffic areas, plus the outfield was re-sodded a few weeks after the Cotto-Foreman boxing match tore it up in June. Still no word if they’re going to fix the warning track though.
Anywho, here’s your open thread for the evening. No baseball, football, or (local) hockey tonight, but it’s Opening Night for the NBA. TNT is carrying the Heat and Celtics at 7:30pm ET, then the Rockets and Lakers three hours later. Go ahead and talk about that, or whatever else is on your mind.
Wednesday afternoon’s Game Five win gave Yankee fans a lot of reasons to smile, but a scary moment in the fourth inning had us all holding our breath. Ian Kinsler fouled off a CC Sabathia fastball, popping it up toward first base. Lance Berkman chased after the ball and overran it a bit, but when he went to slam on the brakes as he transitioned from grass to warning track, his feet came out from under him and he fell hard, flat on his back. In the unlikely event that you haven’t seen it yet, here’s video of the spill. Yeah, it’s rough.
The good news is that Berkman was pretty much okay; he knocked the wind out of himself but stayed in the game after changing into a pair of metal spikes. He didn’t even hit his head. Puma hit a deep sacrifice fly in the later innings and caught the final out of the game in foul territory, a similar spot to where he took the fall. Berkman said after the game that his entire back was sore, but he received treatment yesterday and is a go for Game Six tonight.
Berkman’s fall looked like another comedic flop to add to his defensive blooper reel, but it revealed a much bigger problem: the Yankee Stadium warning track is dangerous. One unnamed Yankee told Chad Jennings that it’s like running from grass onto a sheet of ice, and regular first baseman Mark Teixeira called it “basically concrete with sand on top.” The players have reportedly brought this up in the past, but it’s obviously not an easy fix. Certainly not something that can be addressed during the season, anyway.
It’s one thing to have complaints about the outfield dimensions and obstructed view seats in the New Stadium, but it’s quite another when the playing surface is an issue. That concerns the safety of the players, and in the Yankees’ case we’re talking about the safety of highly paid players. It took Berkman’s fall to bring the problem to our attention, but given the claims of past complaints, it’s something the team has been aware of for a while.
The warning track at the Old Stadium was made of red brick dust in the later years (based on what I’ve been able to find online, anyway), but the real concern is what’s under whatever’s on top. Some tracks are dirt, some rubber, but at some point there’s concrete under there. As long as there’s enough of a buffer on top it’s not an issue. Perhaps they need to chop out an inch or two of concrete at the New Stadium all around the warning track, but who knows. We have no idea about the construction of the actual track, we’re just going off Tex’s quote. Chopping out concrete may not be as easy as it sounds either, depending on what else is going on down there.
The important thing is that the Yankees make the warning track safer for their players this offseason, one way or the other. Players are investments, massive investments for this team, and they should do what’s best to protect them. In the grand scheme of things, making the warning track more fall- and slide-friendly is a no-brainer and not something to be ignored.
With another round of playoff games set for the Bronx this week, New York City Transit announced that it will run the Nostalgia Train from Grand Central to Yankee Stadium for each of the ALCS games. Trains leave approximately an hour before first pitch and arrive at the stadium well before the game is set to begin. For more on these special — and fun — trips in vintage subway cars, check out my coverage on Second Ave. Sagas.
A 1999 book by Dean Chadwin, called Those Damn Yankees: The Secret Life of America’s Greatest Franchise, introduced the world to the dark underbelly of Yankee fans at the height of the club’s late-1990s dynasty. Using the Yanks as his storytelling device, Chadwin explored the problems inherent in baseball economics, the way the team used its influence to secure the promise of a new stadium from then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani and of course, the way Yankee fans are utterly ruthless in their taunting. For those who attend the games and follow the team, the short tome didn’t break new ground, but Chadwin’s writing highlighting some of the more uncomfortable aspects of Yankee Stadium.
As a highlight of the book, Chadwin goes inside the bleachers. Then holding court in Section 39, the Bleacher Creature at Yankee Stadium was — and still is — ruthless. Those who wear the colors of an opposing team into that section can be prepared for nine innings of taunts. One part, though, garnered headlines. Chadwin explored the homophobic nature of the taunts, and in the middle of the book, he republished the Creature’s version of Y.M.C.A. The chorus replaces the Village People’s line with “Why are you gay?” and the rest of the verse isn’t much better. It’s laid out on page 45 of the book for all to see.
When the book came out, the media focused a bit on this version of the song but eventually let the issue drop. Recently, though, with a rash of high-profile anti-gay incidents and a video from the bleachers on YouTube, the bleachers’ version of this song came under fire. Gay rights activists were up in arms over the song, and the Yankees quickly responded. Security guards, the team said, would no longer tolerate this version of the song.
GLAAD issued a statement on this little brouhaha. “We reached out to the Yankees, and were extremely pleased with their reaction. Yankees spokesperson Alice McGillion told us ‘the Yankees have zero tolerance for this and any kind of abuse.’ She said that security in the bleacher sections of the stadium will warn fans, before Y.M.C.A. is played, that any type of homophobic abuse ‘will not be tolerated’ and she assured us that any fans who take part in this ugly bullying will be ejected from the game.”
The Yanks’ decision to put an end to this practice is, in my opinion, about a decade too late, but while the club turned a blind eye to this practice, so too did anyone who covered the team. I’ve known about this chant for years and never wrote about it. Team beat writers or sports columnists could have chosen to attack this song instead of moralizing for the umpteenth time about steroids. But they didn’t. Homophobia has no place in sports, and while the Yanks should be applauded for vowing to stop it, albeit years too late, at their stadium, fans should not remain silent about it either.
As is becoming playoff subway tradition, New York City Transit announced today that they’ll be running a Nostalgia Train from Grand Central to Yankee Stadium this evening. For ALDS-bound straphangers, the old-school four-car special departs 42nd St. at around 7:15 p.m. and should get to Yankee Stadium at around 7:45 p.m. I have more info about the ride on Second Ave. Sagas.