Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I had a busy weekend catching games in Yankee Stadium and Citizens Bank Park, plus stopping by Citi Field. I’m lucky to have a good friend who lives in Jersey, Liz, who didn’t mind getting dragged to a couple of baseball games and let me crash at her place. She also turned me on to United E-fares, saving me about 20 horrible hours of Pennsylvania turnpike driving. The E-fare deals come out every Tuesday starting around $150 round trip and some go pretty quickly. The catch is you have to travel between Friday and Tuesday that week. My flight from Friday-Monday only ended up being $240, which I probably would have gotten close to in gas if I’d driven. When you head to NYC to visit either Yankee Stadium or Citi Field, you should try coordinating a trip when both teams are in town (I did this last year). If you can’t, settle for visiting the other team’s park or schedule a stadium tour. If you’re really ambitious, plan a side day trip to Philadelphia or Boston to knock out an extra park. There are plenty of options from hitching a ride with a friend, renting a car, public transportation, or ride the Megabus to these neighboring cities.
After my morning visit to Citi Field and brief shopping trip, I hit the green line 4 subway to the Bronx to see my Bombers. Traveling from the lower east side of Manhattan to the 161/Yankee Stadium (4, B, D stop here) took about 45 minutes. By the end of the ride, the car and rest of train was packed tight with Yankee fans. It was a relief to get to the station and unload. While I was waiting for Liz to meet me with our tickets, I did a loop around the stadium. Yankee Stadium keeps it real- they know you’re there for the baseball game and leaves the frills and gimmicks to the smaller market teams. Only one word encompasses this ballpark and it is majestic. The large open arched limestone facade runs from Gate 6 to Gate 2 before turning into an attached parking garage (expensive!) on the left field side. The center/right field end facing the subway tracks is plain with pictures of current players. Under the Curtis Granderson picture is the entrance/exit to the lot the players park in. Before and after games you can find fans crowded around watching for their favorite Yankee. If you go, be on the lookout for my friend Henry, he’s great! The street along this side of the stadium is blocked off during the game and there are bars like Dugout and Stan’s, shops, and more parking garages on the other side of the tracks.
Between Gate 4 and Gate 6 is the Babe Ruth Plaza which houses the will call and ticket areas. Across from the plaza is the site where old Yankee Stadium sat, now torn down and converted to a park with multiple baseball fields. There were a bunch of little league games going on when I walked by- wonder if I saw any future Yankees. I met Liz by Gate 6 and we entered the stadium into the main concourse. By this gate was the team shop and the Hard Rock Cafe which is also on the outside of the park. The main level is split into an outer and inner concourse. The outer concourse is larger and open with banners of past Yankee players lining the walls. Liz thought it felt like a mall and was unimpressed. The inner concourse is lined with concessions and shops. Something I don’t like about NYC is they put the calorie content next to all the food, rude! Throughout the game the concession lines were long at all levels, so bring cash for the cash only stands to cut down on wait time. We also did a search for the cheapest beer- $6 in the outfield, but the cup is super small.
Liz and I hung out in the standing room behind the Yankee dugout during the anthem before zipping over to the bleacher area for “Roll Call.” Unfortunately, my video of roll call won’t upload, so you’ll have to take my word for it- its fun. The people sitting in the bleachers call out each player’s name until the player waves. Nick Swisher got the most into it, turning and saluting the section. The standing room next to the bleachers on the 100 level isn’t a bad view, especially if you want to listen in on the bleacher folk, who are the most colorful!
We headed back to the outer concourse and up to the 200 level. On our way up we walked by a picture of Reggie Jackson, the man responsible for my Yankee fandom. I grew up in Cleveland and people always ask how I become a Yankee fan, so I constantly have to explain I was brainwashed by my father. His dad didn’t follow baseball, so my Dad had to pick his own team. He liked Reggie Jackson, thus fell in love with the Yanks and their great tradition. We’ve been loyal ever since! Above the Reggie, wall picture is Tommy Bahama’s Bar. Liz made a good point- why would you pay to come to the game and spend it at this bar where you can’t see the game live? I don’t know, so we walked on and stumbled onto the Yankees Museum, which is pretty cool! Free to all game attendees, the museum houses the World Series trophies, a Yankees locker you can put your name on, displays on the team’s history, and a tribute to the late George Steinbrenner. In the middle are rows of baseballs signed by current and former Yankee players. Next time I visit, I plan on getting to the stadium earlier to spend more time in the museum and make sure I visit Monument Park.
The standing room in the 200 level is solid and provided a good vantage point for peeking into Monument Park which is under the Mohegan Sun Sports bar/batter’s eye. You can also see the home bullpen well from this angle. Continuing around the outfield we caught an inning of game action in the Batter’s Eye Cafe which was advertising the Yankee family meal deals.
After a quick sweep of the 300 level, where we had sat in the Jim Beam Suite seats in 2009, we headed up to our $25 seats in the 400 level. Man, were we mad we wasted $150 on those ’09 tickets! The view from the 400 and 300 levels is virtually the same! The only difference is the seats are padded in the 300 level seats. You buns can suffer for $125 less! I repeat, do not buy tickets in the 300 level if you can get tickets in the lower rows of the 400 level. We were in row 5 just right of home plate and the view was almost the same as our seats from three years previous. What really bites is sure, you get to hang out in the Jim Beam private bar on the 300 level, but you still have to pay for drinks and food! This is weak guys, at least throw in a hot dog for those prices!
The Yankees ended up dropping the game to Detroit, though I did see home runs by Swisher and Granderson. At least I got some decent fantasy points from Miguel Cabrera (lemons into lemonade!). After the game, we took the 4 down to Grand Central and transferred over to another line that I can’t remember to 34th Street. We made a quick stop at a bakery called Crumbs for some much-needed coffee and stuffed our faces with their cupcake sampler. Then we ordered a pizza and headed to our friend’s apartment to get ready for a night out. For my visit to Yankee Stadium, I spent $25 on the ticket, $4.50 on subway fares, $25 on food, and $23 on drinks later that night at 230 Fifth (rooftop bar with a great view of the city). While that wasn’t my favorite trip to Yankee Stadium because my team lost, I still highly recommend fans making a visit to see the Evil Empire in action. Even in the new stadium, you can feel the team’s prestige floating around in the rafters or maybe it’s just the ghosts from the old park. Either way, it’s an experience not to be missed.