Last night I took my third trip over to the new Yankee stadium and I think I’m one of the few people whose been there who hasn’t left in amazement. The new revolution of multi-billion dollar stadiums in big markets is upon, and I’m not sure its a good thing. By all accounts, Jerry Jones handled it properly as I haven’t heard anything bad about it since scoreboard-gate. The man knows how to spend huge amounts of money to build good stadiums(the same can’t be said about his ability to build a football team). Cowboy stadium is massive, expensive, awe-inspiring, and apparently a great place to watch a game. Besides expensive, Yankee stadium is none of these.
The entire experience of the new stadium is something that feels quite contrived. It strives to be modern and innovative while simultaneously attempting to manufacture a historical feel; the resultant effect being a stadium with an identity crisis. There is no part of the stadium that portrays this better then the stadium’s “foyer”, so to speak. It’s a massive concrete room that greets you with massive hanging pictures of all-time Yankee greats, which are flanked by the gaudy Hard Rock Cafe and the stadium’s beyond expensive steakhouse.
Center field is the same way. Apparently unsatisfied with their old batter’s eye(bleachers painted black), the Yankee’s turned their new one into an exclusive uppity bar with black windows overlooking the new memorial park. This seems like a fine idea, however the sports bar juts out in between two sections of bleacher seats, completely obstructing the view of anyone sitting close to it. Have no fear, those people can just watch the TV’s put on interfering walls. Thats why people pay to go to the stadium, right?
Yet somewhat amazingly, the stadium, with its four levels of seating glory, manages to seat less people than the old stadium. During one of my trips to the stadium I had seats on the highest deck(with a face value of almost $50) that seemed designed to take you out of the game. A holding the home plate netting ran straight across my view of the infield as I sat seemingly miles above the playing field. It was a chore to stay focused on an amazing Jon Lester performance until I snuck down onto the second level.
And then there is the monster screen in the centerfield. a technological marvel that is absolutely amazing to witness in person. Unfortunately, along with the bleacher TV’s, this seems like another part of the design where the designers forgot you are there to watch a live game. The behemoth scoreboard accomplishes nothing that a smaller more reasonably sized screen could, while also drawing your attention to it constantly. Last night I was sitting in the outfield with the screen to my back and it was still distracting.
To me, Yankee stadium stands as a perfect example of what not do while designing a new stadium. Turning the stadium itself into the spectacle, while detracting from the game people came to see. Shrinking the stadium size in an attempt to create a more intimate atmosphere, but somehow managing to alienate fans. If you want to spend over a billion dollars on a super stadium, then go ultra modern and design something that looks like it travelled back in time. Don’t try to create a nostalgia inducing experiencing while sticking a scoreboard thats bigger than my house in center field. Well at least they didn’t sell the naming rights.
Suck on that, Grantland.