In the time that the new Yankee Stadium was being built across the street from its predecessor, all the talk among fans and throughout Major League Baseball was that the new stadium was going to be the envy of everyone in the league. However, just a month into the new season, the problems and controversy that has surrounded the new stadium has been far from enviable.
The $1.5 billion stadium, which opened this season, was touted as a place that would give fans all the best amenities of a modern stadium with the feel of the old ballpark still intact. The Yankees first problem with that sentiment may have come when the team priced out many of the fans that helped create that feel, with luxury seats that encompass nearly 2,000 seats that span from dugout to dugout costing upwards $2,500 per seat for season ticket holders.
Throughout the offseason Yankees front office officials claimed that they were having little problem selling its high-priced seats, but after the first month of the season, those seats have looked anything but sold-out. For fans watching on television, the majority of the seats look empty, something that even prompted team managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner to say some of the team’s tickets may be overpriced. Following the embarrassment of empty seats, the team then decided to reduce ticket prices of the $2,500 in half, down to $1,250 per seat.
“The Yankees also missed the time to strike ‘while the iron was hot’,” Jason Berger of AllShows.com told TicketNews. “Had they lowered their prices to a more reasonable level earlier while people were in a ‘buying mood’ they would have sold more seats.”
“Overall, it just doesn’t feel like ‘Yankee Stadium’,” he added. “I went to a lot of games in the old ball park. It will take going to a lot of games in the new one to get that feel… with these prices could be a long time.”
Filling the seats at new stadium has been just one of the public relations problems that the Yankees have faced in the first month of the season, as many fans continue to grow critical of the new stadium and the team.
On May 4, a game versus the rival Boston Red Sox was delayed due to rain. During the long delay, many of those in attendance were reportedly told by Yankees employees that the game was cancelled and would not be played, so many of them left the park. After it was announced that the game was going to be played with the first pitch just after 9 p.m., those fans were then denied re-entry into the stadium.
“We’re a part of hundreds of people, if not thousands,” Martin Watson, a Yankee fan who spent $800 for four tickets and was denied re-entry told the New York Daily News. “This is not fan-friendly. This is B.S. You pay money for a top-of-the-line franchise, and you get bottom-of-the-line customer service.”
Meanwhile, the team has also had to continue to deal with some scrutiny over the construction of the stadium as well with Assemblyman Richard Brodsky continuing his investigation into the use of public funds that help build the stadium. The Yankees are currently trying to get a state judge to throw out a subpoena from two Assembly committees which are conducting the investigation. A hearing is set for May 27.
In addition, local Bronx residents claim the team has reneged on the promise to replace Macombs Dam Park, a public park which housed most of the cities sports field and was located where the new stadium currently sits. According to the New York City News Service, work on the new park was supposed to begin last year but has been pushed until 2010.
All Hallows Catholic High School, who practiced and played home games at Macombs Dam Park, now is forced to practice in the schools cafeteria.
“Shame on you,” school principal and baseball coach Sean Sullivan said. “You took from my kids. You haven’t backed your word as to what you were going to do to help the situation here.” Who said this?
“We have to race our kids all around the city to find a patch of green grass. We asked for $50,000 for us to secure another bus and we recently got a letter from the Yankees and they dropped a zero,” he added. “And it was no longer $50,000, but its $5,000 and they said you cannot use the money to buy a bus.”