Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Yankee Stadium

My daughter Hannah and I went to the Yankee game on Sunday, the one where Aaron Judge hit the 496 foot home run that’s been playing on repeat on ESPN ever since.  I still don’t think of myself as an expert on the stadium or anything, but I’ve now been there a handful of times, both for baseball games and in 2014 to see Army football’s upset win over UConn during Coach Jeff Monken’s inaugural season.  I like Yankees Stadium, and for once I think I actually took enough pictures to tell a useful story about the place.
Hannah on the walk up to the stadium, aka The Cathedral of Baseball,
from Metro North.
Yankee stadium is located on E. 161st Street in the Bronx, which is ironic because East 161st Street is actually on the west side of the borough.  If for some reason you come by car, the stadium is just south of the Cross Bronx Expressway (I-95) and just east of I-87, which would be convenient if these two highways weren’t the two most consistently congested, out-and-out undrivable roads in the entire state of New York.  The Cross Bronx in particular is its own peculiar kind of Hell, but I-87 can also be a distinctly unpleasant experience if you come at anything like rush hour.  However, if you absolutely must drive, you totally can, and there are any number of parking garages within reasonable walking distance.
Screenshot of the stadium's location via Google Maps.
Stadium panorama as seen from our seats on Saturday.
It’s much easier to get around New York City using public transportation.  Several subway lines have stops new Yankee Stadium, as does the Metro North Railroad.  I usually take Metro North down from Connecticut, and indeed, there are special commuter trains that run directly back towards New Haven immediately after most games end.  The service is excellent, and the special trains shave maybe a half hour off a typical return trip.  Unfortunately, though, Metro North is not cheap.  I have a monthly commuter pass because I ride the train to work every day, but if you’re bringing a family of four down from Connecticut or Rockland County, you could easily spend $100 just on train fare.  Sadly, this makes driving a somewhat more attractive option if you decide to bring the whole family.  Even the subway has gone up to $2.75/trip in the last couple of years, which seems expensive considering how God-awful the service is.
But that’s part of the cost of living and working in New York City.  Reality is that they’re not always trying to make it cheap.
To be fair, though, the Yankees have done an admirable job of creating affordable options for fans who just want to see a ballgame.  It’s true that if you want a serious luxury experience, the Yankees will find ways to upsell you, but you can stand anywhere in the stadium for $15, and believe it or not, that’s actually a good experience if you’re smart enough to bring some beer money[1].  In fact, there’s a fully functional sports bar overlooking the outfield where I personally would like to watch an entire game for $15.  Or, for a few dollars more, you can get seats in the bleachers or up in the upper decks, which is where I sat with Hannah and her cousin Jake and one of his friends over the weekend.  We wound up way high in the sky, but our seats were just off home plate with both excellent views of the game and shade from awning on an otherwise brutally hot 90-degree day.  All-in-all, we had a great time for something like $25/seat.  
The video board.
This awning kept us out of the sun on what would otherwise have been a miserable day.
Hannah and I watched a couple of innings from this standing-only area on the 3rd deck.
You can stand here for a game for $15.
Prices go up quickly if you want to sit closer to Mother Earth.  If you absolutely must spend $500 or more per seat, you can get into one of the air conditioned boxes or even into the Yankee’s Steak House, which looks amazing—but also mind-numbingly pricey.  Prices down by the field seem to float somewhere around $200 to $250/seat, depending on who the Yankees are playing and whether it’s a weekday or weekend game.  You’re going to be able to see regardless, but if you want the players to hear you when you scream, that costs real money.
It’s worth noting that the Yankees use dynamic pricing, so if you just want to see a ballgame and check out the stadium, you can do okay during, say, a weeknight game against a non-divisional opponent.  Getting in to see Yankees/Red Sox in September when both teams are in contention, however, requires much more commitment, either in terms of planning time or financial resources or both.  The Yankees have any number of ticket specials on their website, including for kids and active duty military personnel, and apps like Seat Geek can help you find deals, too.  This being New York, you’re a fool if you don’t use both.  In fact, your own foolishness is already baked into the price of pretty much everything.  My point is, there’s a right way to do everything, and in this city, they’ll flat rip you off if you don’t pay attention.
Yankee Stadium has more and better concessions than I’ve ever seen anywhere, up to and including fully functional sit-down bars and even restaurants within the stadium itself.  There’s even a Hard Rock Cafe inside the stadium.  This, along with the Yankee Museum and Memorial Park, makes the stadium a would be tourist destination even on off-days, though I personally would just advise getting there early if you want to see some what there is to see.  I can’t imagine going to the Hard Rock on game day, but thankfully, the place is open even on non-game days, which is convenient if you’re ever wandering the Bronx and simplymust see some old guitars while you eat a hamburger.
The crew on Saturday.
Mugging to show off my new pinstriped hat, with photobomber.
I don’t think they ever host concerts at the stadium, but they definitely do host the occasional football game.  The Yankees used to host Army Football for neutral site games every once in awhile, and they still host the Pinstripe Bowl every year.  That’s usually a good game, though occasionally frigid.  This year’s matchup is on December 27th at 5:15 pm, featuring teams from the ACC and Big 10.  
It sounds like fun, but I would definitely advise bringing a blanket.
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[1] Beer at Yankee Stadium will run you between $9 to $15, depending on brand.  My Goose Island IPA was $13.50, but at least it was a big-ass cup.  But then, that always makes the second cup seem like a good idea.

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