The power of sport: RIP Yankee Stadium

If anyone ever needed a reminder of the ability of sport to create powerful emotions, try watching a replay of the last ever game at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York, NY.

Yankee Stadium (NY Times)

Yankee Stadium (NY Times)

The House That Ruth Built built opened April 18, 1923 when the Yankees beating the Boston Red Sox. It cost $2.5m in 1923 (31.2 million in 2008 money), and was refurbished in 1976 for another $167m, giving it the iconic front that is synonymous with so many sports and cultural events, not to mention the back drop for so many scenes from Seinfeld.

That last broadcast from Yankee Stadium against the Baltimore Orioles (Yankee win) was pure gold. You can catch the last inning from YouTube {not sure how long it will stay up, this is from ESPN}

I’ve got to admit when the last pitch was thrown by a Yankee legend Mariano Rivera and the PA system broke out into the classic Frank Sinatra New York New York, it was very hard to hold back the tears. It was the spectacle of sport elevated to it’s highest, when the distinction between sport and emotion are so intertwined, that even a non sports person could recognise the power or sense of occasion. It was beautifully shot by ESPN, the video and photo montages during the breaks were stunning. Two of the very best (if not the best) baseball commentators Jon Miller and Joe Morgan (Hall of Fame player) did a fantastic job of letting the images and sounds portray the drama of the moment rather than talk. Their knowledge of the game is immense, add to that the incredibly rich history that is Yankee Stadium, it was very much a night of nostalgia.

Yogi Berra Yankee Stadium 2008

Yogi Berra Yankee Stadium 2008 (ESPN.com)

Earlier in the day, one of the most famous Yankee and possibly second most famous name in baseball behind Babe Ruth, Yogi Berra (yes the namesake for that brilliant cartoon character), along with Babe Ruth’s 92 year old daughter and 10-year-old great-great grandson were present, with the Babe’s daughter tossing out the ceremonial first pitch.

Babe Ruth's 92 year old Daughter with first pitch (NY Times)

Babe Ruth's 92 year old Daughter Julia Ruth Stevens (NY Times)

For 40 years the name New York Yankees was baseball with the likes of Ruth and Lou Gehrig followed by Joe DiMaggio, and later Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, and even later to Reggie Jackson creating the legend that is bigger than the sport. Modern legends of the team include ‘A-Rod’ Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada The NY Yankee baseball cap is one of the popular culture symbols of America.

Yogi Berra for the last time at Yankee Stadium (NY Times)

Yogi Berra for the last time at Yankee Stadium (NY Times)

For a fantastic series of slideshows on Yankee Stadium visit the New York Times‘ tribute to the House that Ruth Built.

Final game tickets (NY Times)

Final game tickets (NY Times)

from a Different View (NY Times)

from a Different View (NY Times)


And yet another beautiful collection of pics from Yankee Stadium by the New York Times

However, even with all of the emotion, the legends and the history that is Yankee Stadium, as the saying goes, all things come to an end. Incidentally Yogi Berra is credited with the saying “it ain’t over till it’s over”, and in this case it’s over for the 85 year old stadium.

The very same company that is going to design and build the new Carisbrook Stadium in Dunedin, HOK sport, are building New Yankee Stadium. At $1.5B USD New Yankee Stadium is the second most expensive stadium in the world, behind another HOK stunner, Wembley Stadium. Although not without it’s detractors and controversy, New Yankee Stadium pay’s homage to the old in design and use of materials. It will be two structures in one. The outer skin of the complex will be more or less a replica of the pre 1972 redevelopment Yankee Stadium.

Although I have never been to the old Wembley or Yankee Stadiums, they have played a big part in my sporting education. While I have been to Carisbrook many many times, like the New Yankee stadium, I look forward to a new chapter in Dunedin sporting and cultural life begin at Awatea St.

Incidentially, I only have only once seen Yankee Stadium. That was flying out of La Guardia airport back to Vancouver after being in Boston for the Society of Newspaper Designers conference, where Boston were marching their way to world domination, this is very similar to what you see out of your window of the aeroplane.

Facts and Figures

Yankee Stadium cost $2.5m (1923) & $167m (1976). Capacity 57,545 (but as high as 71,000)
New Yankee Stadium cost $1.5b. Capacity 52,325

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5 Comments

Filed under Stadiums

5 responses to “The power of sport: RIP Yankee Stadium

  1. KLK

    Interesting how all these truly iconic venues like Yankee Stadium – think also Highbury, Cardiff Arms Park, etc and soon to be Anfield (and yes, Goodison) – are being demolished or abandoned in favour of newer, better equipped facilities. And yet the Eden Park Trust and its supporters felt it was better to slap some extremely expensive lipstick on the pig (thanks Barack) in Kingsland instead of moving elsewhere to a new home. All because of the Park’s so-called “history and tradition”.

    I suspect there are similar thoughts in Dunedin re Carisbrook.

    There comes a time when you have to trade up and move on.

  2. That decision not to move to the waterfront and do a stadium of NZ was daft if not insane. Sure the time frames etc were tight, in the end it was a council without nerve which stopped it happening.

    There is a time and a place to move on. I’ve resigned myself to my beloved Goodison going. I was a huge Kings Dock fan myself, the idea of moving to the burbs outside of Liverpool just doesn’t seem right.

    The thoughts in Dunedin are mixed. The very determined and aggressively working Stop The Stadium Inc are doing their level best to stop it going ahead. However having met the CST and seen where they are at, I am now more confident than ever that they will met the very stringent goals set by the ORC and DCC and this will go ahead early next year.

  3. Actually one of the better (in terms of Urban Planning) cases to look at is the Vancouver Whitecaps football team’s plans to relocate out of their old digs (capacity about 9,000) to a new waterfront stadium downtown. It has huge support and huge numbers against it, and a council that is so stringent in it’s decision making that it’s been going on for years now. I’m hoping to post aboot it soon (sorry for the pun), but it’s a very complex issue. The best part about it is the 150 car park allocation they are planning for, and that’s mainly official and team members. Public transport and car parking in Vancouver is extremely good, so there simply isn’t really any need for car parks, the train, bus, taxi, water taxi and skytrain are all part of it, not to mention the foot traffic and bikes, they are all big in Vancouver.

  4. KLK

    I must admit, I didn’t agree with a Waterfront Stadium. With Aucklanders having been locked out of access to the Waterfront for years, it seemed daft to put up a massive structure which not only blocked views looking out from the CBD, but also had everyone inside looking in.

    The better proposal, I thought, was one on the old Carlaw Park site, bordering the domain. It was on rail line, was in walking distance from the CBD, and cleaned up what is a pretty run down area – urban regeneration if you will.

    The owners of the site had planned a mixed use development (going ahead now) but were open to the idea of a national stadium going there – I think they even had designs done up.

    Unfortunately, the Councillor who suggested it came to the party to late.

  5. I actually thought the designs for the Stadium on the waterfront looked good. The transparent walls and the boulevard around the outside of the stadium finally connecting the people to the water.

    But then each to their own.

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