June 16, 2005
Yankee Stadium 2.0
I have to admit, though all the recent talk about the Yankees moving to a new stadium has always given me hives, this plan strikes me as being not so bad.
The New York Yankees unveiled plans to build a $800 million ballpark next to their current home in the Bronx that would give baseball's most successful franchise the most expensive stadium.
The proposed ballpark would have fewer seats than the 82- year-old Yankee Stadium and triple the number of luxury suites. The Yankees would pay for it with tax-exempt financing, and New York City would contribute about $135 million toward park land in the area and improvements to the building site.
The current Yankee Stadium, home to a team that won a record 26 World Series, will be used by youth league and softball teams after most of the stands are torn down. Built in 1923, it is the third oldest park in Major League Baseball. Only Boston's Fenway Park (1912) and Chicago's Wrigley Field (1914) are older.
The new stadium will look like the original Yankee Stadium, which was built in 1923 and renovated in 1976. It will have a limestone facade, no roof and would seat 51,800 to 54,000 and have 50 to 60 luxury boxes. The Yankees' current home seats 56,937 and has about 18 luxury boxes.
The state will pay $70 million to add 4,000 parking spots, and will keep the parking revenue, Bloomberg and Pataki said.
Plans also call for the development of a "Yankee Village" with a hotel, retail stores and restaurants in the area.
"Clearly their value is going to go up and their ability to drive new revenue streams from having 50 to 60 luxury suites from the 18 they have now," Gordon Saint-Denis, head of the Sports Advisory and Finance Group at CIT Group Inc. in New York., said in an interview.
There's a lot to like, or at least not a lot to hate, about this proposal. The team stays in the Brox where it belongs. The original field lives on in a way that gives back to the community. Most of the tab is paid for by the team. The new design is faithful to the old stadium. Maybe I'd feel differently if I still lived in New York and expected to attend games with some regularity, but at a distance, this plan doesn't seem to suck. Am I crazy to think this?
By the way, just an idle thought: George Steinbrenner turns 75 this July 4. The post-Steinbrenner era is coming, and whatever you may think of him, things will not be the same without him.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 16, 2005 to Baseball
The interesting thing about this, and despite my being a Yankee hater I fully support this decision on Steinbrenner's part, is that it helps the Yankees in one big way.
The costs that go into the planning etc of the new stadium actually reduce the amount of revenues the Yankees are considered to have in revenue sharing.
In essence the new stadium project will allow them to give less money to the "small market" teams.
While I'm all for competitive balance, and I'd personally like to see a salary cap in baseball, it's quite clear that some teams *cough*DevilRays*cough* are misusing their revenue sharing awards.
I'd say, "Maybe you'd feel differently if you lived in NYC and had to help pay for that $135 million the city's putting forward for it", but you're a Yankees fan, so you probably can overlook that.
I still hate the Yankees as much as ever, but Tim and I have already talked about needing to make a pilgrimage there before the stadium is gone.
This is not an entirely new plan. In fact, the Yankees revealed much of this plan in 2001 before the attack on the World Trade Center. The main difference is the use of the current field for community / youth leagues, instead of the parking lot originally announced. Of course, the Yankees still want more parking and a connection to the nearby Metro-North (suburban railroad) station, but those are minor details.
You may have noticed that the Mets are all of a sudden also getting a new ball park that will double as the Olympic Stadium. Guess what? That was also first revealed in 2001, only this time they're going to get the stadium so the city can use it for the Olympics (if by some slim chance they get the right to host).
Of course, with tickets starting at $12 to sit in the bleachers and $18 to sit in the "I claim these seats for the earth" section of the current ballpark, you don't think George Steinbrenner will want to raise the prices in the new ballpark, do you? :-)
It's a whole lot better than the $500+ million that the Mariners scalped the citizens of Seattle for when I was living there. Sheesh, they spent about $135 million just repairing the Kingdome roof before tearing it down a year or two later.
I have noticed though, that the really vile period of stadium projects are mostly old history. No longer do you really hear proposals to build new mega baseball stadiums in the suburbs at freeway interchanges. Now there is at least an attempt to create interesting buildings in city neighborhoods.
And baseball stadiums are far better than football stadiums to have in a neighborhood if you want re-development. For that reason alone, NYC will be much better off with new stadiums for the Yankees and Mets rather than the proposed Jets stadium in Manhattan. That's because a football stadium only gets about 8 games/year, many of which are during late fall when weather can be poor. Football fans will often rather tailgate than frequent local bars and restaurants. Baseball stadiums on the other hand get 82 games/year during the months of best weather and so the foot traffic for bars, restaurants and shops will be 10-times greater.