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Recently I had a chance to check out the new Yankee Stadium as I went to see the Yankees play the Orioles. Unfortunately, I did not arrive before the game due to the limited amount of time I had to check out the stadium. However, I was able to get a decent impression of the stadium, and saw enough of the amenities to report back on it.
In terms of my seats, I was quite happy to find out that the seats were wider, the arm rests more acceptable on the arm, and the leg room much improved. I’m 5′ 10″ and skinny, but the old stadium often left me feeling cramped, especially around larger people. I did not feel like that would be the case at the new stadium.
Also, there were cupholders available in front of the seats, which after seeing and using them at the Cubs game I attended at Wrigley, is a big help to getting your full value out of your drink, while still allowing people to walk by. The one negative I did note was that my seats, which were in a similar area to where I sat for a Yankees-Tigers game a few years prior, did not offer quite as good a view of the outside corner as the old stadium. This is partially due to a decreased slope in the upper deck.
As for the audio-video section, the team did a GREAT job of making sure at almost every time you can follow what’s going on. There are TVs in the concourses, by some of the entrances, so that if you arrive late you can catch up on the score, and the speaker system is very loud and clear.
The video boards in centerfield are large, but I feel poorly used. Do we need to see Robert Andino’s MLB picture that large? Instead, on the square footage they should be able to fit both lineups, ALL out of town scores, the pitchers strikes and total pitches thrown and the information about the batter. Regardless, it is a beautiful screen.
The screens that line the facing of the upper deck are digital and nice, but mostly used for advertising, which in my opinion is a poor way to use them. They should be used for enhancing the watching of the game, given the large area they provide. I think this will change over time, however, and will be enhanced.
The food options are quite plentiful. There were Nathan’s Hot Dogs, Fries and Chicken Tenders, Johnny Rockets Burgers, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ which had pulled pork sandwiches, garlic fries, healthy sandwiches in addition to others….and that’s just what I saw on the upper deck. I didn’t get a chance to check out what was available down below thanks to my late arrival; that will be saved for next time.
The drink options are basically a standard stadium fare in non-alcoholic drinks plus fresh squeezed lemonade, milkshakes at the Johnny Rocket’s stands, and a small variety of beers. A lot has been made of the stadium prices for the beers and the especially poor beers available at $6. I found a pretty good deal in the $10 Miller Lite in a souvenir cup, which turned out to be at least 24oz of beer. For a ballpark, that’s not bad. There were a lot more fixed food stands in the upper deck and a lot of mobile ones, as well. This helped to cut down on the length of lines.
That leads me to my next point: the open concourses. In the upper deck, this is very well implemented. You can walk anywhere and if you hear a ball come off the bat, all you have to do is run to a railing behind the 300 level seats to see what is going on. Plus, the concourses are so much wider that even if the food lines remained the length of the lines at the old stadium, you’d still have room to walk. It really is a pleasure to be able to walk through the stadium and not miss a beat, nor feel slowed down by a food line.
The lighting inside the stadium, outside of the stadium, and on the field is really solid. As I’ll mention when I talk about CitiField, lighting can make a huge difference in enjoyability of the game. Here, the lights are not overbearing and the large amount allows for them to not be as blinding as some other parks, so it’s harder to lose a ball in the lights. Plus, the arrangement of them indicate the possibility of the stadium being used for other purposes. The inside of the stadium also contains the Great Hall, which is the main entrance point that has many photos and posters of important pieces of Yankees history. Even the second level, where you can peer down to the Great Hall from, has some nice Yankees items on it as well.
Overall, I had a pretty good time at the Stadium. Did it have the feeling of the old Stadium in terms of crowd warmth? No, but I think that will change over time. Were the upper deck seats not as prime a view as at the old stadium? Sure, but they’re still a pretty good view and still a pretty good value. Is there a wind tunnel? I’m almost positive there is. When exiting the stadium you could feel the wind coming in from the Great Hall area and especially towards the first base side of it. Perhaps, blocking air from the entrance points over there will be the only necessary solution.
Hopefully next time I get there early enough to see more of the stadium and can potentially provide more insight. Of course, the stadium would be 1000x better if they didn’t play God Bless America every game and didn’t play John Sterling’s cliche’ call every time the Yankees win. But, that’s another topic for another day.