June 26 - Replacing The Stadium
Yankee Stadium, The House that George Steinbrenner Took Down, will be moving virtually across the
street in the Bronx, as you know by now, and excuse me if this plan sounds like Mother telling you it's for
your own good as she pours cod liver oil down your throat. I don't object to a new Yankee Stadium. I
object to this idea of a new Yankee Stadium.
Wrapping a modern ballpark in a cloak of limestone engineered to look like it was constructed at the
turn of the century doesn't do it for me any more than modern automobiles designed like '50s
Thunderbirds. If you want a '53 Thunderbird, get one, with a steering wheel the size of a pizza pan and
tufted leather seats, not some faux replica with "wood" trim that's actually made out of plastic.
It's nice that the new Yankee Stadium will have the freize on the upper deck, as it did when Babe Ruth
first stepped to the plate except, of course, that the upper deck will actually be the second deck. Yankee
Stadium will have two decks? Great - now we will have 167-pound shortstops hitting upper deck home
runs in the Big Ballpark.
Which, by the way, won't be so big.
When the current, remodeled Yankee Stadium re-opened in 1976, the outfield dimensions had
noticeably shrunk - no more 467 feet to the right field gap, enough room to hold the monuments - and
the place lost much of its character and charm. The best this updated version could do was a valley of
430 to left center, since reduced to 399, in case you hadn't realized that triples had joined white tigers on
list of the endangered species.
I didn't expect the old Yankee Stadium to be replicated exactly, although it would have been nice. Major
League Baseball would likely have frowned on another 344-foot pennant porch in right field. But keeping
the same ho-hum dimensions that exist today will give the new, fake throwback ballpark all the
distinction of, ugh, Shea Stadium, a place so dreary and dull that Mr. Met is considered an innovation.
The Yankees say that two decks will give more fans access to better seats - of course at higher prices.
But some fans like cheap seats. At 50 cents, bleacher seats used to be a bargain when I was growing
up in the days of Eli Grba and Bob Cerv. A seat, a program, and a hot dog without having to take out a
second mortgage were a delight back in the early 1960s. Today, I go with my daughter to see the Mets
and sit in the upper deck. It's fine, except for Kaz Matsui.
I'd envisioned the new Yankee Stadium with nooks and crannies and inning-by-inning out-of-towns
scores. I hoped for line drives rattling around a short right field corner and acres of outfield and
inside-the park home runs. Instead, I got...Well, the bullpens will be situated in the same place they
used to be when the stadium first opened. Big deal.
You want my ideas?
Make the dimensions 10 feet longer than the original - 306 down the rightfield line and 354 in right.
Make the right-center gap 390, centerfield 430, left center 440, leftfield 360, and the leftfield line 314.
Take that glass-enclosed restaurant they're planning for straightaway center and put it behind home
plate. Let some of the Bronx skyline in, as they'd done with Jacobs Field and Camden Yards. Keep the
Don't ask focus groups how it should look. Ask 10 year-old kids. They're the ones who are going to be
customers for the next 50 years.
The bullpens? Put 'em anywhere you like.