SBD/Issue 138/MLB Season Preview

Yankee Stadium, Citi Field Offer Clear Contrasts Upon Openings

New Yankee Stadium's Opening Goes Smoothly
The opening of the new Yankee Stadium Friday night for a Cubs-Yankees exhibition game "seemed to go smoothly," according to Kirk Semple of the N.Y. TIMES. Ticket holders were "greeted at every turn by smiling stadium attendants, some of whom chirped, 'Welcome to the new Yankee Stadium!'" For many fans arriving at the stadium, the experience was "full of ambivalence -- a mixture of sentimentality and loss, excitement and expectation." But inside the ballpark, "much of this ambivalence seemed to evaporate amid the sparkling upgrade and its promises of renewal" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/4). But in N.Y., Joshua Robinson notes views of right field for fans in Section 239 are "blocked off by the concrete wall of the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar," while "on the bar's other flank, left field was a mystery for the denizens of Section 201." Together, the two sections "account for 1,048 bleacher seats where the view is obstructed," and most fans there are "upset -- no matter how little they paid for their tickets." Bleacher seats for the Yankees' exhibition games against the Cubs on Friday and Saturday cost only $0.25 to "commemorate the prices when the original Yankee Stadium opened in 1923." But many fans "paid much more, buying their tickets on Web sites like StubHub, where most fell into the range" of $30-70 (N.Y. TIMES, 4/4).

BIGGER AND BETTER: In N.Y., Brian Costello wrote the new Yankee Stadium "feels equal parts museum, luxury resort and home to the most successful franchise in North American professional sports." The ballpark has the "opulence of a 21st century arena but it also has enough touches of nostalgia to bring you back to your first trip to the ballpark in the Bronx." Everything about the new stadium "feels bigger and better than its predecessor" (N.Y. POST, 4/5).'s Ted Keith wrote the ballpark is "enormous ... and so are the expectations for a structure that must replace its predecessor that was so revered it was known as the Cathedral of baseball." The new stadium is "as much about extending the Yankees financial advantage over the rest of baseball into the foreseeable future as it is about providing the fans and players with the coolest house on the block" (, 4/4). In N.Y., Mark Feinsand wrote while most Yankees players were "in awe of the sheer size of the ballpark and its plush amenities, the consensus was that once the game started, the Bombers' new home was an awful lot like their old one." Yankees SS Derek Jeter: "They've done a tremendous job with the stadium, but it's going to take a little while to get used to it" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/4). Also in N.Y., Tyler Kepner noted, "The stately new park is designed to evoke the grandeur of its predecessor, starting with the bronze eagle medallions high above the main entrance." The clubhouse is "cavernous," and on the right side of every locker is a "mounted ThinkPad laptop" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/4). Yankees COO Lonn Trost: "We have every amenity. We have every futuristic fiber optics that you can think of. We built the building for today and tomorrow." MLB Network's Joe Magrane said of Yankee Stadium and the Mets' Citi Field, which opened Friday with an exhibition game against the Red Sox, "I would call them cathedrals, not stadiums" ("MLB Tonight," MLB Network, 4/4).

TALE OF TWO TEAMS: On Long Island, Wallace Matthews wrote both the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field are a "perfect reflection of the teams that play in them." Yankee Stadium "makes no apologies for what it is," while Citi Field "tries to convince you it is something it is not." Yankee Stadium is "ridiculous, offensive, infuriating and magnificent in its wretched excess," and Citi Field is "charming, precious and sickening in its phoniness." Both ballparks are "impressive brickpiles that would stand up well if they occupied two different towns, but placed side-by-side within eight miles of one another, there is simply no comparison between the two ballparks." The Yankees spent $1.3B on their "new playground, and every cent of it shows." The ballpark is "vast and sweeping, and at the same time, comfortable," and it "looks like a Stadium but feels like a ballpark." But the Mets at Citi Field "spent about half as much and got about half as much." During Friday's exhibition game at Citi Field, it was a "slow go negotiating its narrow, low-ceilinged passageways," and the "lines at its concession stands were terrible." And the open-air food court, which "might be inviting on a warm summer night, was an ordeal in a chilly April downpour." At Citi Field, "you get the feeling you could be in any one of a half-dozen off-the-rack ballparks in a half-dozen nondescript cities." There is "no view of the surrounding area from any of the seats, and no sense while inside the park that it is located anywhere within" N.Y. (NEWSDAY, 4/5).

Writer Says Mets Ballpark Represents Its
"New Money" Franchise
COMPARE & CONTRAST: On Long Island, Neil Best wrote Yankee Stadium is a "monument -- serious and straightforward, a grand, spectacularly expensive testament to the Yankee Way." Citi Field is a "theme park -- quirky and a tad gimmicky, yet charming enough to get away with it" (NEWSDAY, 4/4). NEWSDAY's Anthony Rieber wrote the ballparks "reflect the public images and private attitudes of the franchises that built them." The Yankees "have old money and they like to flaunt it," while the Mets are "new money." The Mets and Citi Field "want very badly to be liked ... all decked out in their expensive clothes" (NEWSDAY, 4/4). In N.Y., Rich O'Malley writes the city is "now home to one of America's best ballparks" in Yankee Stadium and a "very worthy contender," Citi Field. Yankee Stadium is a "stadium," and "no one will ever mistake it for a quaint 'field' or 'park.'" Citi Field is and "needed to be a 180-degree departure" from Shea Stadium, and its "cousins are the 'retro' parks," like Citizens Bank Park and Turner Field. Overall, Yankee Stadium is a "bit more unique" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/6).

BLAST FROM THE PAST: In N.Y., Brian Costello wrote Citi Field "looks as if it jumped out of a black-and-white newsreel," as it is a "combination of brick retro and modern-day amenities, which surround the 42,000 seats inside." Citi Field is "not perfect, but mostly because of things beyond the Mets' control," as the "chop shops are still across the street and the planes from LaGuardia still will make you shout to be heard by the person next to you, but it is light years better than Shea." Citi Field was "built for baseball, and that is evident in every nook and cranny" (N.Y. POST, 4/5). Also in N.Y., George Vecsey wrote the Mets "seem flagrantly Dodger-centric in their reference points," including the Jackie Robinson Rotunda behind home plate (N.Y. TIMES, 4/5). The N.Y. TIMES' Ben Shpigel wrote many of the 37,652 fans for Friday's Red Sox-Mets game "barely made it to their seats to watch the game," as they instead "wandered through the concourses, stood on the Pepsi Porch in right field and watched their children run the bases at the whiffle ball field." Fans also "lined up to take their pictures in front of the old apple, which sat behind the center-field fence at Shea." Most fans "liked the new stadium, particularly the seats, which they said were closer to the field than the ones at Shea" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/4).'s Bill Eichenberger wrote, "When you walk into Citi Field, the contrast to Shea Stadium is striking. The Mets seem like a different and more modern team in this cozy, state-of-the-art facility that has a deliberately retro look" (, 4/4). WFAN-AM's Mike Francesa said Citi Field is "magnificent." Francesa: "It's 42,000 seats not counting standing room, and I don't think there's a bad seat in the house" ("Mike Francesa," YES Network, 4/3).

A DIFFERENT VIEW: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes Citi Field for the weekend's exhibition games was the "clear (view) winner ... from a TV debut standpoint," as telecasts from the new Yankee Stadium "thus far exude three need-fixin' problems." First, "every batted ball shown from behind-the-plate -- and that's just about all of them -- is first seen through backstop netting." Mushnick: "Apparently, when blueprinting, the Yanks did not invest much forethought into primary camera positions." Second, Yankee Stadium "does not yet have dedicated first or third base down-the-lines low camera positions." And lastly, the billboards at Yankee Stadium "show up so large and garish they often swallow the game being played in front of them" (N.Y. POST, 4/6).

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