New York City is something of the capital of the world when it comes to trip destinations, with an encyclopedia of attractions so large that even something as distinctly American as baseball can be left off the to-do list for many vacationers.
Yet at the same time, New York City can be every bit as great a destination for people who love baseball than any city in North America.
In 2009 the Yankees and Mets both opened spectacular new homes of the American pastime. But despite being in the same city, the two ballparks couldn’t be any more different. Both are fantastic ballparks in their own way, and well worth a visit even for a casual baseball fan.
In Part 1 of this two-part post on New York City baseball, we’re going to look at Yankee Stadium, home of the greatest baseball team in history.
The new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx does everything big, just like the team itself. There are endless tributes to the history of the Yankees, as there should be—after all, this is the team of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and 27 World Championships. You can view larger-than-life pictures of Yankee greats in the Great Hall, read about the amazing accomplishments of Babe Ruth in the Babe Ruth Plaza, and see trophies and signed baseballs in the Yankees Museum—along with statues of Don Larsen and Yogi Berra executing the last pitch of the only perfect game in the World Series.
Finally you can visit Monument Park in center field, with busts and retired numbers dedicated to the greatest of Yankees—Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Billy Martin, Phil Rizzuto. Oh, and one bust is larger than the rest: the iconic, bombastic owner of the Yankees from the mid-1970s until his death in 2010, George Steinbrenner.
Beyond the history Yankee Stadium is a completely modern ballpark, sometimes in ways that seem crass. There are, of course, the luxury Legends Suite seats, which can cost over $1,000 per game. The field level seating is also pricier than you’d expect, even for New York City, although the seats are comfortable and padded. It’s only when you get to the higher level and the bleachers in the outfield that seating becomes more reasonable.
There is a long list of group party areas, too…the Audi Yankees Club restaurant in left field, the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar in center field, and the Jim Beam Club to name a few. And there are two massive hi-definition scoreboards…you’re not likely to miss that.
The new Yankee Stadium offers more food options than ever. You can sit down for a meal at the Hard Rock Café or the NYY Steak restaurants, or sample any of the large amount of options in the concourse areas—from the outstanding Lobel’s roast beef sandwich, to a Philly cheesesteak from Carl’s, to Johnny Rockets burgers and Nathan’s hot dogs, with everything in between…including garlic fries and Asian noodle bowls.
But some elements of the old Yankee Stadium remain…the field dimensions are exactly the same, the outfield bleachers have been brought over from the classic Stadium (and with them the “Bleacher Creatures” who shout each position player’s name in the first inning), as has the frieze design at the top of the Stadium, which is the way the previous Stadium looked before the 1970s remodeling. Most importantly for Yankees fans, the team is still the team all others must conquer.
The new Yankee Stadium, like many new ballparks, did a fine job of paying tribute to the past while offering a stellar ballgame experience of the present. It’s a must see for anyone visiting New York City who is remotely interested in baseball.
If You Go…
You should plan well ahead of time for a game at Yankee Stadium, since the team draws large crowds. If you sign up for the Yankees Ticket Alert Newsletter on their website, you’ll receive plenty of ticket deals in your e-mail that make a Stadium visit far more affordable than it normally is. You need to jump on the better deals and buy tickets…like for $5 games…right away though, because they go very fast. If you don’t mind paying the considerable price for a better seat, you can try buying tickets at the Modell’s in Times Square on game day, where tickets are half price subject to availability.
Yankee Stadium is accessible from I-87 by car, but it is highly recommended to use public transportation. The Stadium is next to the 161st Street Station and is accessible from the B, D, and 4 trains from Manhattan, or you can use the comfortable Metro-North Railroad to the 153rd Street Station just a short walk from the stadium. Both are far easier to use and much cheaper than arriving by car and paying for gas and outrageous parking fees.
If you’re looking for souvenirs, you can find them much more cheaply at several shops along River Avenue and on 161st. Far cheaper to take advantage of these than to buy inside.
Yankee Stadium requires some effort to enjoy on a budget, but it can be done.
Kurt Smith is the author of Ballpark E-Guides, PDF-format guides to 14 major league ballparks, including Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Camden Yards. Ballpark E-Guides provide detailed information and tips for buying tickets, finding a great seat, getting to the ballpark and what to eat when you’re there, with “Tightwad Tips” to help readers save money on all of it. He is also a contributor to “Jersey Man” magazine, and occasionally posts to a blog about Wildwood, N.J., called “Beaches and Boards”. When he’s not busy with all of that, Kurt enjoys spending time with his family. Learn more at www.BallparkEGuides.com.