The Golden Local debate about New York's best new stadium has had more lead changes than a whole season of baseball. Here's a little food for thought about the new Yankee Stadium to go along with a similar look at Citi Field:
1. The Grandeur - You may not like the fact that the Yankees consider themselves a cut above the rest of the baseball world, but you can't argue that the feeling comes with some justification. The new Yankee Stadium fits perfectly into that idealized image. The exterior, with its towers of limestone and granite and arched windows, inspires and intimidates in equal amounts, and the sheer size of the building is in line with the franchise's designs on dominating the major leagues. The feeling of ceremony extends to the sunlight-filled Great Hall, replete with banners and videos celebrating Yankee history. It all adds up to a building where one imagines important business is conducted, which is just as the Yankees would have it.
2. The Video Board in Center Field - The picture is so clear and so crisp that you might actually find yourself watching it instead of the action on the field. For some of the fans in the far-flung upper deck, it may even be preferable to fix your eyes on the massive screen. It's high-definition, naturally, but the word seems too sedate for a screen that does so much to enhance the experience of going to a game.
3. The Home Runs - It's not everyone's cup of tea (see below), but there's no doubt that the forgiving nature of the new Stadium's walls have made for exciting baseball games. Neither the Yankees nor their opponents will fret if they fall behind by three or four runs, because redemption may be a couple of swings of the bat away. For fans, that means fewer lost cause blowouts, more intense late-game matchups and increased chances of going home with a prized souvenir.
1. The Segregation - The outcry about ticket prices has always been somewhat overblown. It's not as if the average working man could afford season tickets in the field level of the old Yankee Stadium, either. What isn't overblown, however, is the sense that there are two stadiums being pitched as one. By making so much of the Stadium off-limits to those who haven't purchased the most expensive seats in the house, the Yankees are keeping too many of their fans from sharing in the celebration of the new stadium, and they've created resentment about a building that's supposed to be making happy memories. The empty seats have been a sharp rebuke to that approach, but not enough of one to cause any significant changes.
2. Monument Park - A dank cavern is no way to celebrate the rich history of the Yankee franchise, so you have to ask what the Yankees were thinking when they decided to relegate Monument Park to a location under the sports bar that sits in center field. It seems like they simply forgot about including space for it in the original plans, a stunning oversight for a franchise so obsessed with the past. Along with the segregated seating areas, it smacks of disdain for a wide swath of the fan base.
3. The Home Runs - For a stadium that positions itself as the height of baseball grandeur, there sure are a lot of games that wind up resembling slow pitch softball games in Central Park. The overwhelming feeling is that the team never even considered the way the game would play as the most likely causes of the power surge -- straight fences instead of curves and the radical redesign of the upper deck -- were easily fixed. Stadiums host games, and the way those games are played shouldn't be an afterthought.