If there's a reason to fear the new Yankee Stadium, it's that the extravagant ticket prices, focus on luxury and homogenized atmosphere will leech personality from the hordes that have come to the Bronx for decades. There may not be a better way to judge the impact than the crowd at Stan's Sports Bar this season.
The bar has been a staple of visits to the Stadium for 30 years, filling up with people hours before games and, often, staying full right through them and for a while after the final pitch. The clientele has changed with the times. Joe Mondi, a manager, reminisces about the bad old days.
“I remember we played the Red Sox in ’91,” Mr. Mondi said, “and right in that corner, some guy came in wearing a Red Sox jersey, and they ripped it off his body, they lit it on fire, and they urinated on it. Right here in the bar.”
Once the Yankees got good, though, and the city experienced boom times, the bar didn't feel much different than any crowded happy hour bar in the city. That may not be the case this season, however. Regulars at the bar aren't renewing ticket packages, people will have more options inside the stadium and there will likely be some cut back thanks to the nexus of higher prices and harder economic times.
The New York Times visited Stan's for an article in Sunday's paper, and the proprietors are worried about what the forthcoming season will bring. The new stadium is in the opposite direction from the subway, robbing the bar of the prime spot across the street from the bleachers of the old park. The loss of regulars coupled with the loss of the traffic they got just by being the closest spot to the action is going to hurt business, but it will probably do fine so long as the crowd keeps a fair amount of the old flavor.
In between the new stadium and Stan's is another bar, the Dugout, whose owner describes it as the antithesis of the old sports bar.
“There’s a term I’m looking for,” he said. “Midtown comes to the Bronx — that’s it.”
That's the fear, anyway.