Hartnett: Why The New Yankee Stadium Will Never Feel Like Home

‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
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The new Yankee Stadium is most definitely a stunning palace that can rival any professional sporting arena worldwide.  It is a majestic beast of a building that is everything the late George M. Steinbrenner III envisioned it to be.  I can picture the old Boss in the initial planning meeting barking at his subordinates something along the lines of: ‘You gotta make it the biggest.  I want everything to be greater, louder and better than the next guy.’

And that’s exactly why I’ve never entirely fallen in love with the new ballpark.  When viewing it from the outside you are overcome by the impressive original design that is a throwback to the days of Babe Ruth.  Once you turn the corner though, you gaze upon the Hard Rock Café which looks entirely out of place.  It’s almost like the building is going through an identity crisis on whether to be a historic landmark or a kitschy tourist trap.

Once you’re inside, the stadium becomes even more contradictory with itself.  I enjoy viewing the large banners of past Yankee legends and the shot of Reggie Jackson inside the Great Hall but right above Reggie is the Tommy Bahama Bar.  Similar to the Hard Rock, I don’t like seeing another resort-type distraction on the way to my seats and what are we trying to get away from?  We’re at a ballpark where you should be able to forget about your troubles anyway.

Passing by the various suites, you’re struck with the unwelcome feeling of class hierarchy that exists throughout the stadium.  None worse so than the Legends Suite seating that separates your ‘average Joe fans’ from privileged high society via a ‘concrete moat.’  Even kids hunting for autographs and foul balls are turned away by guards (I’m sorry stadium security) if they don’t possess tickets within the field sections.  It’s a shame that your regular kid won’t have the chance to chat with one of their heroes pre-game, a shot at a foul ball or come away with a prized autograph.  These were experiences that I took for granted as a boy at the old stadium.

As for a franchise that is obsessed with their own history, there is an embarrassment of replaying modern day Yankee classics with empty seats in the lower section.  The clientele that are lucky enough to sit there prefer to hang out inside the indoor club and lounges.  Wouldn’t it be nice to open up the unclaimed front row seats for fans after the 7th inning?  It would save public face and allow average fans a more enjoyable experience.

We’re all aware of the 1,048 obstructed view bleacher seats that are created by the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar.  It’s just another example of luxury over the everyman.  Below the centerfield bar is Monument Park, which is a condensed version of its predecessor’s former home in leftfield of the old ballpark.  It is hardly distinguishable from most viewing areas of the stadium and isn’t nearly as spacious or pretty as the original Monument Park.

The whole centerfield situation is what really hinders the new stadium most.  Adding to the obstructed seats and shrunken Monument Park is the monstrous 5,925 square foot, 1080p HD scoreboard.  Is it a beautiful screen?  Yes… but maybe too beautiful as it’s too distracting for first-time visitors and diverts fans from the interesting moments between pitches.

That combined with the loud noise constantly being pumped throughout the stadium doesn’t allow fans to generate an atmosphere of their own.  The message board continually prompts you to ‘do this, cheer for this, look at this.’  It’s little wonder why the Yankee Stadium crowd is listless compared to the fans at Citi Field who attempt to create their own colorful ambiance.

I remember the feeling when I first entered old Yankee Stadium as a 7-year old boy in 1992.  We may hold memories of our childhood with heavy nostalgia but there was a real aura about that place.  The Yankees weren’t a winning ballclub at that time but the fans were lively and into the game.  There was a charm there that somehow didn’t make its way across the street to the new stadium.

At the age of seventeen, I first became a Yankees’ partial season ticket plan holder in 2002.  I continue to renew my plan but now I come more for the product on the field rather than the ballpark experience itself.  It should be an equal ratio as baseball is the kind of sport where the venue genuinely matters.

I’m wondering how the young boy or girl will remember their first visit to the new stadium.  Being turned away for close seats during batting practice and forgetting the events of the game because of all the gimmicks shouldn’t be their first memory.

Does the current incarnation of Yankee Stadium fail to convey the aura of its predecessor?  Are the policies at the new stadium less fan-friendly? Share your feelings below and send your feedback to @HartyLFC.

  • tommy c

    Its all about the benjamins . I love my Yankees but haven’t set foot in the new stadium . I have too many GREAT MEMORIES of the old place was there 76 when Chambliss hit the HR , Reggie’s 3 in 77. Just can’t bring myself to go the new place.

  • Jimmy Newtron Paiz


  • flea

    The new stadium is a big cold piece of cement. It has absolutely no character or charm what so ever. They built a city instead of a ball field. The field itself is an after-thought. Personally, i like the old stadium (pre 1974) a lot better, steel poles and all. At least the game was the main event, and not the stadium. I went to that last game, Sept. 30, 1973. I still have my seat. It’s made if wood and steel. Not plastic…Sec.33 Box 165E Seat 5.

  • HUGO

    Hartnett should spend his time in Citi Field. His faux everyman whine makes me sick.

    • Paul D

      Right on! My point was that he couldn’t possibly know what the hell the old stadium was like. He probably wasn’t even born when they renovated the old one. He’s talking out of his anus.

      • ST

        Paul D, after very quickly reading this article I’m pretty sure he never mentioned the pre-1974 stadium, so he’s actually not talking out of his anus, he’s simply providing commentary on his experiences at the old and new Yankee stadiums.

        And, HUGO, he actually DOES mention how Citi Field creates it’s own, more personable vibe. I’m sure you clicked on the title of this article, which makes it clear this discusses Yankee Stadium, with the sole intention of providing your useless, unecessary commentary that is actually covered in the article anyway.

  • Owen

    Go puck yourself

  • pounder

    As Sinatra once sang…”and there use to be a ballpark here”.

  • blic

    Cathedral? No, it WAS the Vatican of baseball!

    Since the Yankees dissolved what do they call that expansion team in the Bronx? I call them the Left-Yankees since they LEFT Yankee stadium and LEFT the fans with a big hollow monstrosity of a temple to bombast.

    Yeah, the Bronx Bombast!

  • Baseball fan

    The Yankees spoke of the old stadium as a cathedral. They don’t rip down cathedrals. Babe, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Mantle, Rizzuto, Berra and countless others played in the old one, not here. Yes the old one was tight and antiquated, but it had something that was timeless the history of those great teams. The Cubs and the Redsox, instead of ripping down their history they promote it. Yes the stadiums are old but they are their homes. Yankee stadium was old but it was home to so many players and events it was terrible to see it go.

  • Richy C

    As an outsider who went to a game at the new Yankee Stadium, I was shocked at just how expensive the tickets were (I only got in as some kind soul had a spare). However, what you’re reporting is exactly the same as the average football (soccer) fan faces over here in the UK. The ‘hardcore’ support are being replaced by Johnny Come Latelys who seem to have little interest in the game and seem more obsessed with being wined and dined and can then tell their mates that they were there. As a consequence, the atmosphere at games here have really dipped since the introduction of more expensive tickets/all seater stadiums.

    I will say though that it wasn’t just Yankee Stadium which I found expensive as the Mets were just as bad. (Two new stadiums to be paid for by any chance?!) Will be interesting to see what happens to ticket prices if the Yankees go through a lean spell ….

  • PI

    Let’s not forget that the “old” stadium was renovated with little regard for history in the 70’s and the ballpark you’ve been going to for the past 30+ years was a shell of the original stadium anyway. I agree that the new stadium doesn’t offer as much to the common fan as the newer stadiums in Balt, SF and Seattle but I also enjoy not being stuck on the ramps for an hour trying to get out. It could’ve been a lot better but it’s an improvement over the 70’s renovation job on the old place.

  • trader jack

    it is still free on YES network. or, better yet, go to a minor league game for $5. the baseball isn’t half bad.

  • Paul D

    Hey Hartnett, get over it! Talk about nitpicking. Just how old are you that you can even make any valid empirical comparison between this stadium and the old one- I mean the one that Mantle, Dimaggio, and Ruth played in? I went to the renovated stadium as well as the old one. Madison Avenue banners have always dominated the landscape. It is a business. I appreciate the convenience of this stadium as well as its majestic dimensions. The Hard Rock is a welcome addition. You can’t be a purist about this subject and be under sixty-five years old.

  • Jill Fisher

    Sean – I went to see the Yankees play Oakland in Oakland, the most expensive seat was $220.00 with food and 2 alcoholic drinks included and even had access to hallway that the Yankees used to go to their dugout, even with airfare to CA it was cheaper than the best seats in Yankee Stadium, and got to see all the Yankees up close and giving out autographs, I rather do that again than pay the prices at Yankee Stadium.

  • dartmouth

    Sean is right about some of the characteristics about the stadium that make the new stadium more of a museum then a stadium. I certainly think that the artificial noise being produced by the stadium sound system is a major problem with respect to the ambiance of the stadium. However, the primary reason that the crowd seems listless and the stadium has the feel of a morgue at times is because of the configuration of the stadium itself. The configuration of the seats which are more like Shea Stadium — very far removed from the field and at a very flat angle in its vertical composition — don’t allow for the crowd to initiate and perpetuate any noise. When there is something to make noise about, the noise sounds more like a scattering of applause then a cohesive and ear screeching roar. This should be incredibly distressing for most fans because there is really nothing that can be done to rectify the situation.

  • railien7

    I refuse to pay big ballpark prices when I can go to see the Brooklyn Cyclones for a much cheaper price and with a greater satisfaction quotient.

    • Meg

      Your a loser

      • Grammar Nazi

        Your should be you’re

  • celticgods

    Bingo Sean – you nailed it!

    • JMS

      EXACTLY!!! i used to go to the old stadium frequently as a kid and continued through my early 30s. We used to get there early to watch batting practice, meet and chat w/our heros, grab a stray baseball and get an autograpgh, etc. THIS is what connected us to the game, the team and the ballpark. Now i can barely afford to take my kid once or twice a year and i can’t bring her down to the field level seats to watch batting practice or meet the players. She will not have the same connection i did. i hope the place stays empty for the next 20 years. shame on the front office for taking the game away from the true fans and creating a class society in what used to be my favorite place in the world.

  • Jill Fisher

    Totally agree….the new stadium will never have the same feeling as the old stadium. Taking mychildren to the old stadium was like bring them back in time, as young as they are early 20s, they’ve seen some Yankee history made already and it is just not the same going to the new stadium, the feeling is just not there. We were always able to afford the expensive seats in the old stadium for a special occassion (birthday etc.) we can no longer do that in the new stadium, now we just go to see them in other stadiums.

    • hartylfc

      I remember it being pretty reasonable 12 years ago. Has it really been that long? It’s a shame that now it’s impossible to get those seats for a decent price, even on third party sites. The Field Infield section seating is going for a minimum of $79 against a non-rival interleague team in the Brewers. Forget about Field MVP, Legends or Champions seats. – Sean Hartnett

  • Mook

    The former park-the Big Ballyard in the Bronx, was a baseball cathedral. In fact, it was THE Baseball Cathedral. The new stadium will never be that. Never. That is the difference.

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