Yankee Stadium – New York Yankees
The House That Steinbrenner Built
On the corner of 161st Street and River Avenue in the Bronx, across the way from the footprint of its predecessor, lies Yankee Stadium. Ruth did not build this house, nor Gehrig, nor Mantle, nor DiMaggio, nor any of the other immortals whose visages smile back at you as you walk the stadium’s broad concourses. This is the House that Steinbrenner Built. Even a half-decade after his passing, his spirit lives on in this temple of capitalism and Yankee Pride. Yankee Stadium, like the city it calls home, is both a melting pot and caste system, simultaneously gritty and gilded. A fan can enter 1 East 161st Street and have a vastly different experience from the person they sat next to on the train from Manhattan. One’s experience at the House that Steinbrenner Built is as bare bones or as lavish as one’s W-2 permits.
Opened in 2009, the Yankees’ nearly 50,000-seat, billion-dollar stadium is, in many ways, more tourist destination than ballpark. Like the home of its rivals in Boston, Yankee Stadium has become as much a place to see and be seen (by your Instagram followers) as it is a place to watch the New York nine take on a visiting squad.
This is a bit of a shame, because underneath all the $9.50 beers and the empty Legends Suite seats behind home plate is one of baseball’s crown jewels, as iconic a sports venue as this country can boast. To watch a baseball game at Yankee Stadium, whether from the wine-and-cheese sections along the baselines or among the Bleacher Creatures in right field, is to feel part of something special. On a warm summer night, few stadiums carry the gravitas and damn-near piety of the House that Steinbrenner Built. To many, that justifies the price of admission on its own merits. The rest varies by pocket depth.
While Yankee Stadium is truly a must-visit, the 2016 season began with an embarrassing, self-inflicted ticketing fiasco. The team announced an exclusive electronic ticket deal with TicketMaster that eliminated the use of PDF tickets. This forced the users of StubHub and other secondary market sites to acquire hard-copy tickets either by mail or from a StubHub pop-up store a few blocks away, or pay a premium to use the TicketMaster marketplace with artificial price floors implemented by the Yankees (thus also giving the Yankees a second cut of tickets they had already sold). Controversial executive Randy Levine then doubled down on the decision by insinuating that fans who had never sat in a premium location do not deserve to do so for less than top dollar (Levine was famously mocked by John Oliver for this statement). This caused an uproar among fans, and attendance instantly suffered. Just before the All-Star break, the Yankees caved and struck a deal with StubHub, allowing StubHub users to buy and sell electronic tickets with a price floor of 50% of face value for any given seat.
Food & Beverage 4
Yankee Stadium left no stone unturned in curating its dining program. Locally based options like Brother Jimmy’s BBQ and Lobel’s Steak Sandwiches share concourse space with national brands like Papa John’s and Hebrew National. More unique cuisines like Cuban food, sushi, chicken & waffles, and a variety of gluten-free options can also be found throughout the stadium. All the standard ballpark fare, including hot dogs, burgers, fries and ice cream are available, and the most basic items can be purchased from vendors patrolling the aisles. None of the food is cheap (expect to pay a minimum of $12 per person to be full), but the variety is unparalleled for a sports venue. For those less concerned about watching the game or their budget, the stadium boasts multiple sit-down restaurants, including a Hard Rock Cafe, NYY Steaks and the Audi Club, Mohegan Sun Sports Bar and Legends Suites, the last three of which are only accessible with certain tickets. The Legends Suite, located behind home plate beneath the 100-level seats, offers a stunning array of steak, seafood, desserts, hors d’oeuvres and more, along with a full bar. Aside from the booze, all of this is included with admission to the Legends Suite. Sitting on each Legends Suite seat is a menu for many of the same items found inside, also complimentary and delivered to your seat. The milkshakes, in particular, are to die for.
Alcohol sales cut off at varying times during the game depending on vendor location. The bleacher section vendors and portable carts cut off in the fifth inning, while non-cart vendors in the bleachers and elsewhere cut off in the 7th. Carts and vendors in the outfield also only sell one alcoholic beverage at a time per person, while all other vendors can sell two per transaction. Basic domestic beer is readily available in all areas of the stadium, and Yankee Stadium’s imported beer selection has grown significantly over the past year. A few concession stands also sell cocktails, and full bars are available in every suite.
Yankee Stadium feels both tacky and hallowed. Images of past Yankee legends adorn the walls and support beams. White marble is used in extreme excess. The Great Hall, just beyond the main entrances on 161st Street, contains marble pillars and vaulted ceilings, but the floors are generally concrete and the concourses feel a bit sterile. The stadium can feel more like a museum than a ballpark, and feels downright casino-like in its efforts to separate you from your money. Furthermore, the organization feels the need to commemorate every moderately significant player who ever put on pinstripes by shamelessly retiring the numbers of dozens of players just so they can get bodies into the stadium for Bernie Williams Day or the Jorge Posada Number Retirement Ceremony. The organization has also played host to the retirement tours of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, plus the cringeworthy ousting of Alex Rodriguez from the roster.
Aside from a one-game wild card appearance in 2015, it has been quite a while since the outcome of the game on the field has been the main attraction of a visit to Yankee Stadium. While it’s hard to fault the franchise for trying to attract fans during a lackluster period in its history, the gimmicks have worn pretty thin.
There’s nothing special about the in-game promotions, though the grounds crew endures nightly humiliation at the hands of the Village People as they perform the “YMCA” dance in the sixth inning of each game. For a stadium that already gives the effect of being sorted by tax bracket, something feels a little off about watching presumably low-paid workers being made to dance to a cliche stadium song with questionable connotations.
All that said, the stadium itself is a modern marvel, built to look much like the old building, down to the white fence facade adorning the roof of the structure. Unnoticed by most, the stadium also features a flag for every team, organized by the day’s current standings and updated as necessary (this occurs quite often, especially in the early parts of the season). The checkerboard cut of the grass, the lights shining down on the iconic pinstriped uniforms and the architectural nods to the previous home of the Bronx Bombers give the fans a truly unique feel while they watch the game. The quality of play has varied in recent years, but Yankee Stadium sure looks impressive.
Most of the stadium gives the fan a good sightline, but the monstrous batter’s eye structure in center field (which houses the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar) blocks the view for large sections of the bleachers on either side of it. There also are not many places to stand around and watch the game outside of your seat. On all concourses, there is a large boundary behind each section so fans don’t crowd the people in the last row. Unless you are standing right on the boundary, you won’t be able to see the game. If you’re looking to meet up with people who are at the game separately but still want to see the action, your best bet is on top of the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar in center field, though that area gets crowded and is not very spacious to begin with.
The neighborhood immediately surrounding Yankee Stadium looks tough, but is not actually dangerous. The Bronx has a reputation that can precede itself, but the areas around Yankee Stadium are much nicer than they were in the days of the old stadium. Helping the cause is a large park where the old stadium stood, which is often used by little leagues and high school teams. Most of the businesses in the immediate vicinity of the stadium are t-shirt shops, dollar stores and fast food restaurants. Food options outside the stadium are fairly sparse, but Billy’s Sports Bar and Stan’s Sports Bar, both within sight of Yankee Stadium on River Avenue, are great for pre and postgame drinks. Billy’s in particular is very spacious and generally has an inviting vibe. If you’re looking to get a bite to eat before the game to avoid stadium prices, you’re better off eating elsewhere before you head to the stadium unless you’re ok with McDonald’s.
The fans are probably the biggest downside to Yankee Stadium. Because tickets are so expensive, the crowd is generally made up of yuppie 20-something Manhattanites who are there to drink heavily and put pictures of the stadium on Instagram, not necessarily to watch the game. By the late innings, especially at weekend games, a handful of fans are so intoxicated they have to be guided out by their friends (or security). Additionally, every game is littered with tourists who often have no interest in either team and spend more time adjusting their selfie sticks than watching baseball happen directly in front of them. While New York certainly owes a great deal to its juggernaut tourism industry, this doesn’t translate into the people at the game actually cheering. Furthermore, the Legends Suite wine and cheese crowd spends much of the game hiding out in the dining area of the suite rather than watching the game from the best seats in the house. Even when they’re actually in the seats, so many of them appear to be entertaining clients or otherwise in work mode that there’s rarely any actual cheering going on. The Legends Suite seats are separated by a literal moat from the rest of the stadium so no proles get any ideas of getting too close to the fancy folk or sitting in one of the countless empty seats. Much has been made of the “real fans” getting priced out by the new stadium, and a visit to Steinbrenner’s Castle doesn’t do anything to dissuade that notion.
The famed Bleacher Creatures in right field provide the best fan spirit, chanting the names of each player during introductions until the player acknowledges them. These are generally the most passionate fans in the stadium, but don’t wear opposing colors on certain weekend nights unless you’re willing to endure some verbal abuse (this is an improvement over their behavior from years past, which involved regular fights and slurs).
One of Yankee Stadium’s biggest selling points is its accessibility. On the subway system, the 4 train runs from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, makes express stops up the East Side of Manhattan and heads directly to Yankee Stadium before continuing farther into the Bronx. The D train runs from Coney Island, through the Lower East Side, up the center of Manhattan and up Central Park West before reaching Yankee Stadium and eventually terminating just beyond Fordham University. The B train also runs to Yankee Stadium on weekdays, following the same tracks as the D until reaching deep into Brooklyn, where it terminates at Brighton Beach. All Metro North lines east of the Hudson River (Harlem, Hudson and New Haven) stop at Yankee Stadium on game days and are a short walk from the stadium. All three major airports (LaGuardia, JFK and Newark) are accessible to Yankee Stadium via public transportation. The stadium is located near the Cross-Bronx and Major Deegan Expressways, and there are several parking lots and garages nearby, though they are not cheap. Traffic is also a concern, as New York City rush hour usually extends well past the typical 7pm start time. By far the best way to get to Yankee Stadium is via public transportation.
When approaching the stadium from the subway stop (as most fans do), your best bet is heading left to find the shortest security line rather than simply using the one right in front of you. Stadium security uses a fairly free-form queuing system that allows for quite a bit of line-cutting and general chicanery, so keep your head on a swivel and you may be able to skip the line entirely if a barricade is left out of place. There does not appear to be a coherent system, but the lines typically move pretty quickly. For a regular weeknight game, you’ll likely have your ticket scanned within ten minutes of disembarking from the subway.
Electronic tickets are new to Yankee Stadium for the 2016 season. Following the embarrassing TicketMaster fiasco early in the season, the Yankees ended their years-long feud with StubHub and struck a deal allowing fans to use electronic tickets to enter the stadium. Printed PDF tickets are no longer allowed, though card stock tickets still exist and are largely available from the scalpers assembled near the subway station. When your electronic ticket is scanned from your phone, a light blinks and allows you to enter the building. You do not receive any kind of hard copy receipt to show to the stadium ushers, so make sure your phone has plenty of battery life remaining. You cannot currently use Apple Wallet to store your purchased Yankee tickets from StubHub, so anyone wishing to transfer tickets to a friend must take a screenshot and text it to them. Check out Parking Panda for some of the best parking options for the game. Use the promo code STADIUMJOURNEY10 for 10% off your first transaction.
Return on Investment 2
Yankee tickets are extremely elastic products and prices on the secondary market vary widely. Bleacher or nosebleed tickets for a non-Red Sox game in April or May can be had for $15 or less, while tickets for summer evenings generally run for at least $30. Most cheap tickets still give you a good view of the field. That said, if you’re looking to sit anywhere other than the bleachers or 400-level, You’re not getting in for less than $50. If the game hasn’t already started, don’t even bother with the scalpers. They’re complete professionals and are generally working together. There’s always a tourist willing to pay more than you and they know it. You probably won’t get a good deal. If you’re planning to eat and drink at the park and buy merchandise, you’re going to pay New York prices. If you show up full and don’t drink much, you can be in and out for relatively cheap (again, by New York standards). Getting to and from the stadium on the subway costs only $2.75 in each direction, so there’s savings there over paying for parking in most MLB cities.
On the other end of the spectrum, face value for Legends Suite tickets can be as low as $250 per game and as high as ten times that, but most are assumed to be corporate seats and the tickets generally re-sell for $500 or more. Unless you’re willing to spend several hundred dollars, the best way to get Legends Suite tickets is to know somebody. As remarkable as the Legends Suite experience is, it is not worth paying for out of pocket.
This is an area in which Yankee Stadium really shines. The Yankee Museum is incredibly well-curated with artifacts from the uniquely decorated history of the franchise. The crown jewel of the museum is the wall of baseballs autographed by players from ranging from Stephen Drew to the Sultan of Swat himself. The balls are signed by players from all over baseball, not just Yankees. Any fan’s first visit to the museum is a true kid-in-a-candy-shop moment. If you arrive early enough, Monument Park in right field contains plaques for nearly 40 past Yankee greats, as well as signs noting the franchise’s myriad retired numbers. Monument Park closes 45 minutes before game time.
The Great Hall entranceway, though a bit gaudy, is still quite impressive and gives an excellent first impression. Images of Yankee Legends are plastered all over the walls and give you a sense that, while this iteration of the stadium isn’t where the magic happened, the pinstripes did not change.
Yankee Stadium is one of the crown jewels of Major League Baseball. It houses the sport’s most iconic franchise and is located in the league’s biggest market. It is a must visit for any baseball fan, but start saving your money now.
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Latest Crowd Reviews
Yankee Stadium is a beautiful infrastructure, with wide concourses,and plenty of lighting,especially compare to the old stadium. However, it doesn&#039t compare to feeling of the old Yankee Stadium. The 2009 World Series Championship was a nice way to start history at the new stadium but it still lacks the historic presence that could be felt at the old. The new stadium is sterile, over-priced from food to the seating areas. The must see when going to the Yankee Stadium for any baseball is Monument Park, otherwise the stadium is average among the MLB Ballparks.
To be honest I found the experience Yankee Stadium too much for my personal tastes. Everything is crowded and expensive, and traffic surrounding the stadium was a nightmare. Having said that, I did get an excellent view of an exciting game on my visit.
I&#039m not a Yankee fan, so perhaps that&#039s why I may be in the minority in thinking that the &quotnew&quot Yankee Stadium is a huge improvement over the old one. Is it a great ballpark? By no means. But it is a clean and comfortable place to see a game, even if it is on the expensive side. The food selection is quite good, though as can be expected in NY, the prices are high. My biggest problem with the ballpark is that it just feels sterile and boring. It just seems to be lacking a &quotWow&quot factor. But in New York, the fans only care about winning, so perhaps the team didn&#039t even feel the need to cater to casual fans.