Regarding Those Empty Seats at Yankee Stadium

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There's been quite a to-do in the Philly blogosphere about the empty seats at Yankee Stadium the past two nights. And why not? The Stadium was only 96% full on Wednesday night, and some fans spent part of the night retreating under cover in the mist. With a five run deficit at a late hour in the ninth, some folks simply got up and headed for the open concourses to watch the last half inning. None of those actions lend themselves to a rowdy playoff atmosphere

Jimmy Rollins, for one, wasn't impressed with the new joint:

Asked if Yankee Stadium were a different atmosphere for a World Series game, Rollins replied, "You'd like to believe so. It's really more of a different atmosphere at our ballpark, which is so loud and rowdy. I expected that when I came here, but I heard one big cheer, and that was on a home run. Other than that," Rollins said before finishing his quote with a shrug of the shoulders.

Don't blame the whole of Yankees fans, Jimmy, for your inability to hear big cheers. Blame the individuals who decided it would be smart to put luxury boxes behind home plate and the dugouts. I'm referring, of course, to the Yankees Legends Suites, the infamous section surrounded by a moat with seat prices in the thousands and corporate fat-cats networking instead of watching the sport. Just 3% of the capacity of the Stadium is seated in these sections, yet they are the face of the game for millions of fans watching on TV.

There should never be a huge luxury box this close to the action in any sport. I'm not implying that teams should give these seats away for free to the "real fans", in fact, the price for these seats should be astronomical. But to provide these folks with a swank sheltered lounge immediately behind the seating area with free foodstuffs and cocktail waitresses at the beck and call only encourages fans to leave the seats. Those empty seats take away from the overall enjoyment for not just the rest of the fans in the park but also makes it seem like Yankee Stadium is half-full of aloof, unstirred ticketholders. That couldn't be further from the truth.

So, I propose that the Yankees re-adjust the fancy schmancy lounge area behind the high-priced dugout section so that the fat cat fans will stay in their seats and cheer on the team. In fact, these folks should be denied any amenities whatsoever, save for maybe a peanut vendor and a mason jar to urinate in. Put the luxury boxes up high, next to the press box, where folks cannot (and should not) be seen. Also, the lounge area should be transformed into a homeless shelter for battered women and children, thus making this a wise P.R. move for the Steinbrenners. WIN WIN.

(Photo courtesy of the good folks at the 700 Level and our pal Dmac)

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Empty seats and emptier souls: the new Yankee Stadium story.

Maybe they need seat fillers, like at the Oscars.

The other issue is the size of the seats themselves. In a standard-issue seat, fans are nearly shoulder-to-shoulder with those seated next to them, creating that packed-crowd look that you see on TV. Even the newer ballparks usually only have 2 or 3 inches of width added to the luxury seats. The thrones in the Legends Box appear to be at least 4 or 5 inches wider than the standard seat, leaving as much as a 6 or 8 inch gap between fans, a gap filled in by the blue of the seat back. String enough of those bright blue gaps together, and all of a sudden it looks like the section is only 2/3 full even when it's at capacity.

Salient points, Metsy and DJ Panick. Not you, Chief.

This problem affects college basketball teams, too. Some of the more successful teams put their rabid fans right on the baseline, creating an acute home field advantage, while others push the doddering, wealthy alums to the front.

As for seat width, the Yankees bragged about how they were widening seats with the new park. True, they widened the FANCY seats, but shrunk some of the rest of 'em. My old loge seats lost a couple inches of width. Good thing I'm a little dude; I'd hate to be a big fat porker squeezing into those narrow chairs.

I'd hate to be a big fat porker squeezing into those narrow chairs.

Aha, so it is a salient point for me!

I was there last night up in 426b (I think that's the right section, lots of riot punch, you'll have to excuse my memory) wearing my WFC gear. The Yankee fans in front and behind me were good fans, stayed the whole time, and were good people to chat and watch the game with.

That said, sitting in the nosebleeds there is bound to be a bunch of obnoxious assholes just like there is in Philly. And as much as I'd like to say Yankee fans are the east cousins of Dodger fans, for the most part I don't think the fans attending the game were materially different from Philly fans and I was also at game 5 of the NLCS.

Great game, great experience, and I can't wait for the rest of this series.

Two straight posts with mason jars to urinate in. What's up? Got something on your mind Iracene? Big cross-country van-trip coming up?

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