Two Baseball Teams and Two Identities

In the final paragraph of The New Yorker's review of New York City's two new baseball stadiums, architecture critic Paul Goldberger sums up much more than Citi Field and Yankee Stadium.

A stadium is a stage set as sure as anything on Broadway, and it determines the tone of the dramas within. Citi Field suggests a team that wants to be liked, even to the point of claiming some history that isn’t its own. Yankee Stadium, however, reflects an organization that is in the business of being admired, and is built to serve as a backdrop for the image of the Yankees, at once connected to the city and rising grandly above it.

Although legions of fans still angry about the Nolan Ryan trade or the Bobby Bonilla signing might argue that the Mets have no interest in being liked, that's a pretty good take on the two franchises and their place in the city.  The desire to be liked may wind up helping the Mets sell more of their remaining tickets this season as well.

The Mets, who put individual game tickets on sale Sunday, have a pricing system that charges different amounts for the same seats at different times. The first week of games at Citi Field have tickets costing as much as $270, but tickets in the same sections are $135 during the next week's games with the Nationals and are $225 when the Phillies come to town in May. That structure applies to less expensive seats as well, and shows that the Mets understand that not all games and days for games are created equal.

The Yankees make no such concessions. Regardless of who is visiting Yankee Stadium, after all, the Yankees are going to be there so you'll pay your money and you'll like it. Richard Sandomir of the New York Times went to the team's Select-a-Seat promotional tour on Saturday, a tour designed to sell the inventory of $350 per game (and up) tickets that the Yankees haven't been able to sell. They didn't sell any on Saturday, per Sandomir, but you can be sure they won't be coming up with any creative pricing plans.

They've sold most of the "cheap" seats, after all. As Goldberger pointed out, the Yankees have a strong connection to the city, which led to people buying tickets they didn't want just so they could have Yankees tickets. That's not surprising in a city where people pay extravagant rates for a studio apartment just so they can leave in New York City.

It's also not surprising that a city with $20 million co-ops would have a team trying to sell seats to a baseball game for $2,500 a pop. The Yankees can't lower the prices for those seats any more than someone selling one of those co-ops could; it would be a sign of weakness and a sign that you're affected by the same vagaries of day-to-day life as the common man. That's not something the Yankees will ever accept, even if it means empty seats.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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