Friday, May 1, 2009
Yankee Stadium 2.0
Yesterday I made my first trip up to the new Yankee Stadium, and what an amazing trip it was. I went with my friend Dan, his wife Casey and her good friend AJ. I thought we had bleacher seats and I was so excited to go to Yankee Stadium and love sitting in the bleachers (especially now that there is beer). I did, in fact sit in the bleachers, but before that we had an adventure.
Now let me make this known: I was always of the opinion that the Yankees needed a new stadium about as much as I need an asshole on my elbow. They had won more championships than anyone else in their original stadium and baseball is a very superstitious sport in its own right. That said, I will conceded that new stadium is quite gorgeous and looks a lot like the old stadium looked before the renovation was done in the 1970s. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
AJ's is from California and her neighbor there is some guy who's sister just happens to be the Assistant GM of the Yankees named Jean Afterman. I met my friends outside of Gate 6 at 5:30 and we walked all the way around the stadium to Gate 2 and went into the Executive lobby. They called up and we waited while someone came to greet us. Dan and I decided to explore the stadium a little. We walked up to where the field level seats began and saw the field which looks almost identical to the old field. The difference is in the amenities. Each of the seats are padded in about six inches of pleather and look quite comfortable. The food going around the stadium is a bunch of NY staples included Johnny Rockets, Brother Jimmy's, Moe's Carribean, Famiglia Pizza, and more Deli's than I expected. Along with Nathan's and Hebrew National hot dogs and a lot of expensive Becks, and reasonably price Budweiser ($6 for 12 ounces, or $10 for 24 ounces. You can guess which one I had 4 of.)
After we walked around, Dan and I went back to the Executive lobby and waited. The lobby was about 50 foot high with 2 large changing pictures of old Yankees, my personal favorite piece was the life-sized cast-iron statue of George Steinbrenner standing next to the elevators smiling at all guests. After 10 minutes or so, we were greeted by a page who brought us up to the 3rd floor which is the level that has all the luxury boxes. We walked over and met Jean Afterman who may have been one of the genuinely nicest people I've ever met. She welcomed us into her office and gave each of us a beautiful blue Yankee cap with the white NY insignia. We sat down and we just chatted for a while. Then she said she's like to show us around-- the only problem is since the stadium is so new, they don't have an official tour itinerary yet. We walked out of her office and I immediately realized that the office right next to hers with the door open belonged to Brian Cashman. On his wall were interchangeable plaques of all the players in the Major league team as well as all the minor-league teams. Behind his desk he also had 2 miniature World Series Trophies. I was in shock at where I was.
From there she brought us into the War Room. This is the room where they decide on who to trade, where they bring in players to discuss contracts and more. The room had a large conference table in the middle and an AMAZING Sony projection screen on the wall. Jean informed me that this thing had the most amazing picture of anything she's ever seen and she wants to get one in her home. The walls apparently swing out where they keep track of all the players they are interested in, but the season is young and the room was quite clean. After that Jean brought us down the hall where each of the luxury suites are. Outside of each Suite was a page and literally every person said "hello" to us. They were all quite friendly. Outside of each box were beautiful pictures including a picture montage of the 3 Yankees that have thrown perfect games and the line-up of the 1927 team. Each luxury box was numbered and outside it had a list of key Yankees that have worn that number.
Jean was able to bring us into one of the luxury boxes and they are gorgeous. Our was around 3rd base and inside has a full kitchen and bathroom with 3 couches and TVs. This box was stacked with a pile of sushi ready for whoever was going to come there that day (or not show up and let all the food probably go to waste). There was also popcorn and other finger-foods. Each of the boxes have 2 rows of seats outside that are under heat lamps in case it gets cold. The window opens up so even if you are inside, you can feel the wind on your face and there are 2 flat-screen TVs outside so you can watch the broadcast of the game as you watch the game. I'm telling you: I could get used to living in that type of luxury.
Jean continued walking us all the way through the hallway past the really nice bar at the end of the hallway, then she brought us back. Unfortunately, the game was about to start or else she was going to try and get us into Memorial Park. But instead she said she would try and hook it up "Next Time". I doubt this next time will ever happen, but it was very kind of her to offer.
We left her to do her job and I honestly cannot thank her enough for giving this Yankee Fan a memorable experience and I cannot thank AJ enough for the amazing opportunity she provided. We then went to our seats in the bleachers. We got our hot dogs (Dan got a Johnny Rocket Burger) and our beers for the start of the game. The new bleachers have a lot more leg room so it makes it much more comfortable to sit there. And for $12 it really is a great way to spend the day. Especially if it's sunny and warm. Between the Right and Left Field Bleacher sections is a balcony where all the concession stands are. You can also just stand and watch the game there. This is something the old Yankee Stadium was seriously lacking. Beneath that concession stand is the Mohegan Sun Bar. You are INSIDE the black glass that serves as the backing for the hitters to see the ball better. Apparently, they give out tickets to this before the game starts and there are a limited number of tickets, so I think it would be a fun place to watch the game but I was unable to get in there even with Dan asking for just a minute to run and see what it looked like.
On top of all this, the Yankees won the game 7-4. The Bleachers were as roudy and fun as always with only 2 people getting kicked out (one for his own safety since he was dressed in full-on Angels gear, but he came back). And the other for talking smack to the Angel's pitcher in the bullpen.
Overall, it was a great day, a great experience and loads of fun. The new Yankee Stadium is much nicer than the old one (at $1.5 Billion it better be). It is very clean and new. The bathrooms are very open and inviting and I did not have to wait once in my 4 visits.
Thank you AJ, Dan, Casey and Jean for a great day. Go Yanks!