(I know this looks long, but it's quick. Just like my ex boyfriend.)
After years of being a Yankees season ticket holder, I was finally priced out. In the new stadium, my seats would not have been as good and now that I've re-located, I can't go to the 40-50 games I used to. I certainly couldn't afford the prices on the secondary market and therefore had resigned myself to watching the first regular season game in the new Yankee Stadium on television.
Then, late Wednesday afternoon, I got an email from a contact I have at Pepsi (the new "official beverage of the New York Yankees") offering me a pair of tickets to the game. Of course I didn't even think twice about it. I'm very easily bought.
So being that I was out of town at the time, I jumped on a bus from DC at 6:45am and began the trek to the new Yankee Stadium. My heart belonged to the original one (my thoughts from the final game are ), and I was holding my judgment on the sexy new lover that had come to claim my affection. I got to the city and jumped on the familiar D train, the same train that carried me to my second home hundreds of times before.
I got off the train and, as if on autopilot, began a walk I've done so many times... up the same steps as always, down the same hallway with the same piccolo playing homeless man, and up the same steps to the street. Upon hitting the street, there was the same crowd, with the same traffic officers directing people to the.... different stadium. I didn't expect my heart to swell like it used to upon seeing the gates, but this feeling was odd. It wasn't that feeling of comfort and belonging that the old stadium gave me. It became clear that this relationship would take time to grow.
I met up with my friend Jen (who has been my game partner since we were teenagers), and we walked across the street, past the Hard Rock Cafe (you heard me), and through the now famous Gate 6. As fortress like as the old stadium was, this new was, well, airy. The high ceiling, light concrete and open windows and ceilings was actually refreshing. All of the impressiveness of the former house with a bit of modern cheeriness. We looked at our tickets and saw we were on the upper level and followed signs to navigate to our section.
One of things about the old stadium was that if you weren't on the field level, you had to walk up endless exhausting ramps to get to your seat. The advent of escalators was sure to make our trip up much easier. We found our way to the escalator and showed our tickets to the stadium worker posted there. "This is for the boxes," he says. "The ramp across the way will take you to your seats." Uh, what?
So we began our journey up the ramp. And then another, and another, and another. I guess some things weren't meant to change. The only positive of this ramp journey was that halfway up, you got a bird's eye view of the main stadium lobby. I'm not going to lie, it's breathtaking. Large banners hung from the ceiling depicting images of Yankee legends, mixed in with airy picture windows. Jen and I both looked at each other and silently scored a point for the new stadium.
We get to our section and decide to wait in line for food before going to our seats. As we were walking, we noticed a stadium employee walking around with huge smile and a sign that says "How can I help you?". Of course I had to take a picture. I give these poor folks one month before they go the way of postal workers and start swinging at people with those signs.
No game is complete without a hot dog so we jumped in line at the Nathan's counter. There were only about 7 people in front of us, so we didn't think it'd take long. Fifteen minutes later, we were only 2 customers closer and getting frustrated. Then, a beer vendor came out of the employees only door with his crate of wares and started towards the seats. One of the guys in line with us stopped him and bought a couple of beers. A few others followed suit. The line was so impatient that they were buying beer while IN LINE TO BUY BEER. The fans in line cleaned out the vendor. Easiest case he ever sold.
As we started inching closer to the counter, we get a look at the menu. All of the culinary offerings were listed along with their prices and...calories? On every menu, there is now a column telling you how many calories are in the fatty goodness you are about to order. Wonderful. After seeing that the fries I was planning on enjoying contained a weight lifter's daily caloric count, I decided on just a hot dog and soda. Clearly this is not the way to boost food sales.
I finally get to the counter and had this exchange:
Me: "Hi. I'd like a hot dog and a diet Pepsi. In a souvenir cup"
Cashier: "We're out of souvenir cups."
Me: "What? The game hasn't even started and you're out of cups??"
Cashier: "Sorry. Would you like your soda in a regular cup?"
I resisted the urge to be obnoxious and ask for my soda in a bucket. It was then that we realized why the service was so slow. The cashier puts in my order and prints out a ticket. He then turns around 180 degrees and hands the tickets to a second worker. She then turned her own 180 degrees and handed the ticket to a third worker who then put the order together, handed it back to the second worker, and then back to the cashier. This was all happening within three feet of working space. And like the game of Telephone, things were getting lost in this chain of awesomeness. Tickets were getting dropped, orders to the wrong people, and drinks completely forgotten. If anyone from Nathan's is reading this, you'd better get on this. Quite frankly, it's embarrassing.
We get our food and head to our seats as the National Anthem was being announced. Out on the field was lined up Yankees players, both present and past. They announce Kelly Clarkson to sing the anthem and the teen twinkie next to us gasps and starts with the "Omigod, Omogod, Omigod". There's a field full of baseball legends in front of her and she's shrieking about Kelly Clarkson. I weep for our future.
Looking around, we noticed that the inside of the stadium looked eerily similar to the old one. With a few changes of course. The old ancient jumbo tron (that was all blurry if you weren't sitting directly across from it) was replaced with a beautiful new one that demonstrated exactly why Hideki Matsui should not be shown in high def on large screens. The team has employed a stadium fan announcer named Tara who, with her grating voice and heavy New York accent, is bound to fit right in. And then there were the advertisements. Lots and lots of advertisements. There were the big ones, the small ones, the railing ones, the scoreboard ones. There was the sponsored analog clock in left field and the heavily branded cup holders attached to every seat. Fans will be pounded over the head with brand names whether they like it or not.
The rest of the game was pretty uneventful for the home team, as the box score will clearly tell you. The highlight was when Jen and I predicted that Jorge Posada (or Jose to Costas. Idiot.) would hit the first home run at the new stadium and having him do just that a few innings later. As we walked back down miles of ramps after the game, we decided that it wasn't a bad change. It still doesn't feel like home just yet, but there is plenty of time to settle in.
And now, the pictures...
Oh, you. You know just how to seduce me.
The main lobby. You had me at DiMaggio.
Yes you can. You can start by telling me who to speak to to get some escalators in this place.
1400 calories in my fries? The calorie column is not the best marketing tool.
The shiny new scoreboard. Sponsored by every brand ever.
(I know this looks long, but it's quick. Just like my ex boyfriend.)