14 February 2010
Some Tips To Help Fans Get The Most Out Of Their First (or second, or third) Visit To The New Yankee Stadium
We were thinking about publishing an "unofficial, uncensored guide to the new Yankee Stadium," similar to what The Mets Police did prior to the home opener at Citi Field. Then, we realized that there is no way that we have gathered enough information from the two exhibition games in the new Yankee Stadium to put together an authoritative guide. Therefore, we have decided to pass along some tips to get you through your first trip to the stadium.
Yankees.com has info about arriving to the game via mass transit and provides driving directions. MTA.info has information about the new Metro North stop at Yankee Stadium. RiverAveBlues.com has more great info about the Metro North Station opening.
Tip: Avoid driving to the game at all costs, but if you must drive, head to baseball-parking.com and pre-purchase your parking to save a bit of time.
Pro-Tip: (courtesy of NYYSI reader Arthur). If you are coming from the George Washington Bridge (New Jersey or Pennsylvania), here are some tips to avoid traffic when visiting Yankee Stadium. This option should only be used if you get off the George Washington Bridge and there is massive traffic on the Major Deegan:
Arriving By Car
This option is a little tricky but well worth it if the traffic crossing the bridge and heading to the Deegan are at a standstill.
- As you cross the George Washington Bridge, take the Henry Hudson Parkway South (aka Westside Highway)
- Take first exit (I think its 158 St). This will be a curvy sort of u-turn that will bring you up a hill into Washington Heights.
- Follow the street up to Broadway.
- Make a right onto Broadway
- Make a left onto 155th Street.
- This will take you to the Macombs Dam Bridge. See above for parking options.
- You can either hang a right after crossing the bridge, which will bring you to the parking lots down by the river - good tailgating scene. Or you can park at the brand spanking new Ruppert Lot which is directly adjacent to the old joint and across the street from the new Stadium.
The Area Around The Stadium
The North side of the stadium is flanked by an area of the Bronx previously undiscovered by those only visiting for Yankee games. The area doesn't exactly make you feel safe, but there is a strong police presence and it certainly isn't as much of an eyesore as 126th street, next to the Mets new home in Flushing.
Tip: From inside of the stadium, there are actually some interesting views of the Bronx skyline when you are walking up the left field ramp. We never noticed before, but from inside of the stadium, the buildings that you see really make you realize that you are in a neighborhood steeped in history.
The "How May I Help You People" (Customer Service)
There are people inside and out of the stadium holding "how may I help you" signs. They may be friendly, but they usually can't offer you much information of value.
Tip: If you are an out of towner, these guys will help you with basic stadium information. If you regularly go to the stadium, you probably know more than these guys and can avoid them altogether.
The new Yankee Stadium ticket windows are now located inside of a lobby, and away from the outdoor elements. At times, the lines (for purchasing and picking up will-call tickets) are disorganized and very frustrating. As for buying tickets, most of the affordable seats directly from the Yankees are already sold out, so the best bet is the secondary market (Stubhub, Ebay, Craigslist). Each year, early season games (other than opening day) sell for well below face value.
Tip: FanSnap.com is the best resource for buying Yankees tickets. They have a really slick user interface that captures all of the possible tickets for each Yankees game from various ticket broker sources and lets you know which seats are the best value. We can't recommend it enough. Think of it as Kayak.com, but for sports tickets. You can also take a look at SeatGeek.com which does something similar with a more clunky interface. The cool thing about SeatGeek.com is that they tell you when to buy tickets to a specific event, and even have an email alert system. Think of it as Farecast.com (now Bing Travel), but for sports tickets. Finally, http://newyork.craigslist.org/tix is always an option. You skirt the fees this way, but you have to deal in person and with cash. You also have to wade through a lot of annoying ticket broker posts to get to the real people. This also isn't great for out of towners, since a lot of people selling on Craigslist aren't willing to accept PayPal (and it is technically against Cragslist policy).
Pro-Tip: If you are buying tickets from someone on Craigslist, try to get them to forward you e-tickets. If they are season ticketholders, it will cost them $2 per ticket to do this, but it gives you the peace of mind that your tickets will be valid when they are scanned at the gate. Many people prefer "hard tickets" to sporting events as souvenirs. However, specifically requesting hard tickets for a game can leave you open to being scammed. The person selling you a hard ticket could have very easily forwarded e-tickets for that game to themselves (or someone else), which deactivates the original hard tickets. Buyer beware. Also, be wary of someone trying to sell you an e-ticket that has been forwarded as a .PDF file within a personal email, instead of one from the Yankees automated system. We're not trying to make people paranoid, but it doesn't hurt to be educated.
Getting Into The Stadium
If you are arriving at the game via mass transit, expect to be herded like a cow through the biggest crosswalk you will ever see. This crosswalk will lead you directly into Babe Ruth Plaza, which is adjacent to the Gate 4 entrance to the stadium. If you enter through Gate 4, or Gate 6, you will find yourself in the Great Hall.
Tip: We're very hesitant to tell you this, but walk north on River Avenue past McDonalds for around a block and you'll find the entrance to the stadium that never had a line. This is the entrance closest to the bleachers and the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar and it is the fastest way through the gates if you are running late. Even during the 2009 World Series, there was no wait to get into the stadium.
The Great Hall
The Great Hall is one of the more impressive features of the new Yankee Stadium. You truly feel like you are in some sort of museum or monument while walking through the hall. Of course, there are plenty of places to spend your money, including the now famous "retro beer" stand, where you can buy a 16 oz. can of Pabst Blue Ribbon for the low introductory price of $9. The huge, hi-def monitor high atop the hall, featuring a feed of the game, is attention-grabbing and makes your home television cry with jealousy.
Tip: Take the surprisingly efficient (and roomy) elevators, located between Gate 4 and Gate 6, if you plan on heading up to the Grandstand. They'll make you wonder how you ever dealt with the crappy escalators and ramps in the old Yankee Stadium.
Contrary to some reports, the Yankees have not completely forgotten their past in their move to the new Yankee Stadium. The storyboards on the light posts flanking Babe Ruth Plaza tell the Babe's story. The banners in the great hall highlight some of the great Yankees. Monument Park features the same monuments and plaques as before, and the Yankee Museum is a brand new addition to the stadium, giving a nod to all of the players who have ever put on a Yankee uniform.
Tip: Skip Monument Park on your first trip to the new Stadium and head right to the Yankee museum. If you enter the stadium through Gate 4, take the elevator that is attached to the Hard Rock Cafe, directly under the huge hi-def screen in the Great Hall. This elevator will take you directly into the Yankee Museum which will help you avoid the line that is bound to form outside. Don't miss the wall of baseballs featuring signatures from nearly every player to don the pinstripes, and of course, the great Thurman Munson's locker is on display to solemnly view.
The Field Level concourse is clearly the best place to roam around in the new Yankee Stadium. It is wide, it features great views of the field, and there is direct access to all of the new concessions that Yankee Stadium has to offer. Fans can circle the entire circumference of the seating bowl via this concourse, so it is good if you need to get your walking in.
Tip: Hang out by section 120A and say hello to security guard Chris "Smoov" Johnson. There is a friendly community of Yankees fans who hang out there to catch the game from prime standing room real estate without any extra cost.
The security force at the new Yankee Stadium has been significantly expanded, meaning a lot of the security guards are brand new to their posts. That inexperience, combined with overwhelmingly strict policies by supervisors, results in frustration on the part of security and fans alike. The rigidity of the security guards will likely make you feel unwelcome during your first trip to the stadium, but try to understand that these security guards are underpaid, under-trained, and likely overworked.
Tip: If you are friendly to these guys and understand that they're not getting paid a lot of money to do a job they don't really care that much about, you'll have a much better time communicating with them.
Standing Room Only
As of 2010, Yankee Stadium standing room only tickets are finally on sale. They are priced as follows:
- Field Level Standing Room Only (listed on Ticketmaster as Cafe Seating) - $75
- Main Level Standing Room Only - $48
- Terrace Level Standing Room Only - $29
Obstructed views have been extensively covered on Stadium Insider. You can perform a quick search of the blog and you will find many stories pertaining to them. The key obstructions are in the bleachers closest to center field (section 201 and 239). Some of the upper deck grandstand sections in the outfield don't have views of the outfield corners, and some of the Jim Beam Suites have plexiglass partitions that block some views (supposedly being fixed before the 2010 season).
Tip: If you want to get into the stadium for cheap, purchase some obstructed view bleacher seats and never sit in them. Simply find a nice standing room spot on the field level and enjoy your great view. Obviously, this isn't good for old people or people with children who don't want to stand the entire game.
The obstructions in the bleachers have been beaten to death by the mainstream media. We have also covered it in depth, in a guide to the obstructions at the new Yankee Stadium. Therefore, lets focus on the positive. The views from inside of and directly behind the right and left field bleachers are breathtaking. At $12, the bleachers are easily the best value in the stadium. If you can deal with not having a seat back, this is where you want to be.
Tip: The infamous bleacher creatures reside in the right field bleachers, in sections 202 and 203. This is the best atmosphere in the stadium, but it isn't for the faint of heart. If you are offended by some foul language and occasional brawls, this might not be the section for you. For anyone who wants to experience Yankee Stadium, we recommend taking a walk out behind this section (there is some standing room) and taking in the atmosphere.
The Main Level (200's Sections)
Seats in the 200's are considerably more affordable, but still out of most people's price range. That being said, these seats, and the standing room behind them also offer some great views of the field. During the cold weather, the back rows are protected from the wind, so it is considerably warmer. During the hot weather, these seats are out of the direct sunlight, so you can stay cooler. These are mostly excellent seats.
Tip: If you are traveling from left field to right field, or vice-versa, avoid using the main level concourse. For whatever reason, the flow on this level is the worst in the stadium. The concourse is an improvement upon the old Yankee Stadium concourses, but still elicits bad memories when you are being rubbed up against from a fat guy walking behind you. It seems as though the concession stand lines are poorly organized, and completely stem the tide of people milling around.
The upper deck of the new Yankee Stadium is now referred to as the "Grandstand" (400's section) in the upper portion, and the "Terrace"(300's section) in the lower portion. If you have ever been to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, the new Yankee Stadium upper deck is very similar. If you are purchasing Grandstand level tickets, note that once you head out toward the outfield in the mid 400's range, you are much further recessed from the action than you were in the old Yankee Stadium. For that reason, seats near the foul pole that were considered to be the worst in the house in the old Yankee Stadium might actually provide a better view than some seats "closer" to home plate. Many of the rows in the Grandstand are covered from the elements (roughly row7 and higher), but the entire upper level of the stadium is open air, so when the weather is bad, it offers little protection against the cold or rain.
Tip: The food on the upper deck is consistently the worst in the stadium. Get your food on another level and bring it up to your seat.
Cellular and Wireless Connectivity
At peak times (between innings during a sold-out game), you might have trouble making a call, but the Yankees have worked with the major cell phone providers to ensure the inconveniences are minimal.
As for wireless internet service in the new stadium, while the place is wired for it, there is no public wi-fi. There is only a protected wireless network for the press to use. Note that if you have a wireless device that automatically connects to the internet, you will default to the protected wireless network. The network itself isn't protected with a password, but a splash page will load within your browser, asking you to enter your login credentials. We have learned to turn off the wi-fi on our smart phone before entering the stadium. The Yankees plan this feature for the future, but it will likely be confined to specialized devices that are distributed within the stadium, and not for use on individual's wireless-compatible devices
Tip: If you bring a cell phone charger to the game, there are places to charge your depleted battery. At the entrance to wheelchair accessible seating behind most seating sections, there is a small door that covers two power outlets. The security guard manning that spot should be trained to allow you to charge your phone. The only issue we ran into was that there was no place to rest our phone, except for a narrow railing. It was a bit stressful leaving it on the rail, but it was our only choice since the charging cable was not very long, and standing up next to the outlet and holding the device would block the entrance to the seating section, or the wheelchair seats. Still, it is very cool that the new Yankee Stadium offers piece of mind regarding a drained battery.
Food & Drink
There really is something for everyone when it comes to food and drink at the new Yankee Stadium. From frickles (fried pickles) to spicy tuna rolls, the Yankees have you covered. Unfortunately, most of the food is mediocre and is served soggy or cold. Prices are what you would expect from a baseball stadium. For those in the mood for $15 cocktails, the Tommy Bahama bar is open on the upper level of the Great Hall, between Gate 4 and Gate 6. Serious Eats extensively covered the food options upon the stadium's opening and Retail Anarchy had some pretty harsh words about the service that was provided by the concession stand workers during the exhibition games against the Cubs. Sadly, these issues continued all through 2009.
- The only food worth going specifically to the stadium to eat is the Lobel's Steak Sandwich. It is only sold in one location, down the left field line on the field level. You'll see the huge line near the carving window. The sandwich is $15, but it is filling and it is high quality food.
- The garlic fries receive rave reviews by some, but only if you enjoy extremely greasy and slimy garlic fries. West coast garlic fries bake the garlic in and are more dry. These fries are just drizzled with garlic and oil, so they are pretty messy and extremely strong.
Membership Only Clubs
The Mohegan Sun Sports Bar (the monstrosity that obstructs the view of over 1,000 bleacher seats), and the Audi Yankees Club are the two "membership only" clubs in the new Yankee Stadium. However, the team also sells individual game tickets in each of these clubs, allowing fans to experience them without splurging for an even more expensive membership price.
The Mohegan Sun Sports Bar membership is presently being offered to all Full, 41 20, 15, 12 and 11 Game Ticket Plan Licensees, subject to availability. The cost of membership is $750 for full season and is prorated down for the smaller plans. Individual game tickets in the front of the bar in assigned seats are $90 each, or $95 on game day.
The Audi Yankees club membership is open to all Yankee ticket plan licensees. The cost of membership is $975 for full season and is prorated down for the smaller plans. Individual game tickets in the front of the club in assigned seats are $140 each, or $150 on game day, and include a world class, all you can eat meal featuring action cooking stations. Regular Membership only permits access to the club and does not include food and beverages, the Audi Yankees Club ticketed seating area or admission to any games. For members, the all you can eat buffet costs $65.
The Mohegan Sun Sports bar is pretty useless. It is jam-packed, the impressive-looking menu features unimpressive food, and although you find yourself literally in the "batter's eye," you might as well be in ESPN Zone in Times Square because you are so removed from the action on the field. Don't be a sucker and pay for membership in this club. The Yankees should make a smart move and open up the bar to the public and charge a $20 cover. Those fans wouldn't have access to the rest of the stadium, but would be able to catch a glimpse of the game out the window, since all you get is a glimpse.
If you insist on spending money at one of these clubs, the Audi Yankees Club is the best option. The all you can eat buffet is actually really good and is worth the $65.
Be on the lookout for Audi Yankees Club one-day membership passes on the secondary ticket market, especially via Goldstar.com (check out our discount Yankees tickets section of NYYSI for these deals). The Yankees count on making their money back on their $65 all you can eat, high end buffet by collecting that $975 membership charge. If you are able to gain access to the club for cheap enough, and you can put food down with the best of them, you are bound to get your $65's worth, especially if they are serving lobster and filet mignon! Also, be on the lookout for Yankee ticket deals for the seating/eating combo, as they have been known to offer "e-savers" on the official Yankees website.
Unlike Citi Field in Flushing, there are no designated smoking areas. According to the A-Z Guide on Yankees.com. "Smoking is prohibited in Yankee Stadium. In consideration for the comfort of all guests, the Yankees ask for your cooperation. There are no designated smoking areas inside Yankee Stadium, and re-entry is prohibited. The smoking policy is strictly enforced, and violators will be ejected from Yankee Stadium immediately." The Yankees got better with stationing security guards around the less traveled areas of the stadium as the 2009 season went on. If you are caught smoking, the security guard will likely rip your ticket as a warning. One more rip of the ticket and you're out of there. Of course, if you get a security guard in a bad mood, they might just kick you out.
Tip: If you insist on killing your lungs, you can go down to the Hard Rock Cafe patio, right off of the "Great Hall." Re-entry is allowed through the Hard Rock, so you can just get your hand stamped, smoke your cigarette and then go back into the main area of the stadium.
Bathrooms are more plentiful at the new Yankee Stadium and seem to be designed better. As a man, you won't have to be worried about being splashed when using a urinal. The urinals are still manual, meaning that if you want to be considerate and flush for the next person, you will have to put personal hygiene on the back-burner. Bathrooms in the upper deck did not seem to have dividers between urinals, and there was no hot water in the sinks, while the bathrooms on the lower level had both. Those amenities are obviously only made for those who pay more for their tickets. We haven't checked yet if the bathrooms on the main level have room temperature water and some splash guards.
The men's bathroom on the field level concourse, right near the Gate 4 entrance to the stadium features dividers between urinals, and had warm water in the sinks. This was equivalent to luxury accommodations compared to the old Yankee Stadium, and even the upper deck. It probably isn't worth traveling down to that bathroom from the upper level, but if you are in the lower levels, it is the best bathroom around.
Hard Rock Cafe
The Hard Rock Cafe isn't anything groundbreaking, but it is actually a nice addition to the stadium. There are photographs lining the walls of famous musicians, all wearing Yankees gear. Great touch. As we mentioned in our initial review, the prices aren't much higher than typical Hard Rock Cafe prices, so you will be looking at around $15 for a burger. Considering that you get to sit down and be waited on, it isn't a terrible deal. Be aware that this particular Hard Rock Cafe has less seating than most, so you are likely to have to wait at least 30 minutes for sit down service.
Tip: You can re-enter the stadium through the Hard Rock Cafe. See more below.
Re-Entry To Yankee Stadium
The Yankees don't officially allow re-entry, but we think we have found a way.
If you go to Gate 6 via the Great Hall, you can wait in line to enter the Hard Rock Cafe, which is open to the public. Since it is open to the public, the Yankees have to stamp your ticket on the way in, allowing you re-entry to the stadium once you are done with your meal. We haven't personally tried this, but we see no reason why you wouldn't be able to utilize this loophole to leave the stadium completely, and then for re-enter. Sure, the line is likely to be a bit longer to exit via the Hard Rock Cafe, but isn't it a better option than rioting outside of the Stadium when they don't let you back in?
Exiting The Stadium
There are many more exits than there ever were before, but that didn't stop the Yankees from putting up strange barricades and causing some bottlenecking during the exhibition games. Hopefully they will streamline the exit routes for the regular season, as there is no reason that people should have any issues getting out quickly and efficiently.
Tip: The exit closest to the subway is the River Avenue exit behind center field (look for the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar, and you will see this exit). The exit closest to the new parking garage is at Gate 2.
Pro-Tip: (Once again, thanks to Arthur). If you are heading back home on the George Washington Bridge, here is the best way to avoid traffic:
Exiting By Car
I always try to avoid the Deegan. I NEVER leave a game early. I have too much respect for Mo if they’re winning to do that and I also love a comeback if they’re losing.
- Take Macombs Dam Bridge into Manhattan
- Follow 155th Street to Broadway
- Make right onto Broadway
- Make left onto 161st Street
- Make right onto Riverside Drive
- Follow Riverside Drive to George Washington Bridge
This information. all first-hand, should help to make your new Yankee Stadium experience extremely enjoyable. Just focus on the positive aspects during your first trip to the new stadium and it will be a much better for everyone involved. We are extremely critical of the out of touch executives in the Yankee front office, but perhaps we have been a bit unfair about the new structure itself. While we are certain that some great things about the old stadium will never return, we are also sure that this stadium will be the home to some great memories. Enjoy the game, and feel free to report back here with anything else you noticed that we might have missed.
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