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Impressions of the Opener

Posted By Peter Abraham On April 16, 2009 @ 9:46 pm In Misc | 82 Comments

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Here is what I really liked:

• The Yankees had the retired numbers painted on a wall in left field and the list of 26 championships painted on a wall in right field. The retired numbers are too small. But it’s a start.

• The flags atop the stadium really change the feel of the place, I think. It looks a lot more like a ballpark now instead of a coliseum.

• When you sit in your seat (provided there is no obstructed view), it feels so much like the old Stadium. And that’s a great thing. The Yankees don’t need gimmicks.

However …

• Monument Park needs to be fixed before 2010. It’s a disaster. “Monument Cave” is what Anthony McCarron of the News called it and he’s exactly right.

The old Monument Park was a park in that there was landscaping and a path you could walk around. Now Monument Park is stuck under a sports bar and behind the fence in center and under a net. It looks and feels hastily done. There is no way for people to flow in and out of the area, either.

The Yankees are all about their history and they stuck it under a sports bar named after a casino. Bring those Monuments, plaques and retired numbers into the light. I don’t know where they should put it. But where they have it now is the wrong spot.

• The sound system is a mess. But that’s the sort of thing engineers can fix through trial and error.

• The concession stands were chaos from what I saw and heard. But that also will improve as the workers figure out what they need to do.

• Here is my biggest concern: The crowd. Maybe it was Opening Day, which always draws a different sort of fan. Maybe it was the way the game played. But the place was funeral home quiet for long stretches. That’s not Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees noticed the difference and so did the Indians. It was a popular topic of conversation after the game.

New parks are designed to have open concourses. As a result, the seats go back in a gentle slope, not steeply up like they at the old park. The fans are further away from the field and today it felt like they were in Washington Heights. I’ve stood in center field in the old ballpark and it felt like those upper tier seats were right on top of you.

You have to wonder if the Yankees priced the real fans out of the place and are left with a wine-and-cheese crowd. Time will tell because, as I mentioned, Opening Day is a different sort of crowd. Lots of pretenders and poseurs. Hopefully the crowd will again be part of the game.

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Meanwhile, when the attendance was announced in the press box today, they also announced that 2,000 standing-room tickets had not been sold. Why that is, nobody could say. Those willing to stand, I bet, will also make a lot of noise.


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