In 1923, some wanted the “old” Yankee Stadium to be called “Ruth Stadium.” Owner Jake Ruppert wanted Ruppert Stadium. They settled for the nickname “the House That Ruth Built.” Groundbreaking ceremonies for the “new” stadium took place on August 16, 2006, the 58th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s death.
Here are the facts you ought to know:
THE “OLD” STADIUM:
The “old”, original stadium opened on April 18, 1923. Prior to that the Yankees had shared the Polo Grounds, across the river, with the NL team New York Giants. The new stadium hosted the World Series in its first year of existence, with the Yankees beating the Giants.
It took 500 workers 185 days to build the original Yankee Stadium.
Thomas Edison, who among his countless ventures also started a cement company in 1899, developed extra-durable cement which was used for the original walls of the Yankee Stadium.
The first game ever at the “old” stadium was between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. That inaugural game was held against Babe Ruth’s old team. The attendance was 74,200. Babe Ruth hit a three-run homer in the third inning, on the way to a 4-1 Yankee win.
Old Yankee Stadium was the first three-tiered sports facility in the States.
New York Governor and soon-to-be Presidential nominee Alfred Smith threw out the first pitch in the original stadium in the Bronx.
The practice of selling more tickets than existing seats lasted until a 1929 stampede in the right field bleachers left two dead and 62 injured.
Negro League teams who played at the Stadium when the Yanks were on the road were barred from using the Yankee dressing rooms. Instead, they were obliged to use the visitors’ dressing room.
“Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day” was staged before 61,808 fans on July 4, 1939. His uniform number four was the first in baseball history to be retired.
In 1941, Yankee president Ed Barrow offered Civil Defense the use of Yankee Stadium as a bomb shelter in case of attack. He thought the area under the stands could provide a safe haven.
On August 16, 1948, Babe Ruth died of throat cancer at age 53. His body lay in state at Yankee Stadium and was viewed by more than 100,000 fans.
On September 11, 2001, within 90 minutes of the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center, Yankee Stadium was evacuated.
THE “NEW” STADIUM:
Construction started in 2006 and the stadium opened in 2009.
The Yankees financed the $1.6 billion project and the City of New York spent $220 million for infrastructure and other improvements in the area.
The first game at the new Yankee Stadium was a pre-season exhibition game against the Chicago Cubs played on April 3, 2009, which the Yankees won 7–4. The first regular season game was played on April 16, a 10–2 Yankee loss to the Cleveland Indians.
The design of the new Yankee Stadium closely mirrors the exterior of the original one when it first opened in 1923.
To allow for the extra seating space and leg room, the new stadium’s capacity was reduced by over 4,000 seats in comparison to the previous stadium.
The original plans for the new stadium included a retractable roof over. It was scrapped in order to save $200 million in construction costs.
The center field scoreboard, manufactured by Mitsubishi Diamond Vision, measures 59 x 101 feet (31 m) and offers 5,925 square feet (550.5 m2) of viewing area. It was the third-largest high definition scoreboard in the world when it opened.
Seats within the first eight rows in the lower bowl, called the “Legends Suite”, rank among the highest priced tickets in professional sports, with the average ticket in the section selling for $510 and the most expensive single game-day ticket costing $2,600. Because of the steep prices, Legends Suite Seats have been regularly unsold and emtpy, despite most other seats in the ballpark selling out. This has created an embarrassing image on television of the seats behind home plate being almost completely vacant.
The ballpark offers a wide choice of restaurants. There are 25 fixed concessions stands, along with 112 moveable ones.
The Yankees are believed to be the first team to chemically treat their uniforms, as well as the showering surfaces with an anti-bacterial agent that reduces the risk of infection.
During construction of the new stadium, a construction worker and avid Boston Red Sox fan buried a replica jersey of Red Sox player David Ortiz underneath the visitors’ dugout. His ultimate goal: placing a “hex” on the Yankees, much like the “Curse of the Bambino” that had allegedly plagued the Red Sox long after trading Ruth to the Yankees. Once exposed by co-workers, he was forced to help exhume the jersey which was then donated to the Jimmy Fund, a charity started in 1948 by the Red Sox’ National League rivals, the Boston Braves. The worker has since claimed to have also buried a 2004 American League Championship Series program/scorecard, but never revealed where he placed it. These attempts didn’t have much effect upon the home team as the Yankees went on to win the 2009 World Series as a result of their first MLB season in the new stadium.
Besides MLB, The Yankee Stadium hosts an array of other events including soccer and hockey games, music concerts, boxing matches, various promotional events, and even univercity graduation ceremonies.
“New York, New York” is played over the stadium loudspeakers at the end of every game. The tradition used to be that the Frank Sinatra version was played if they won and the Liza Minnelli version was played if they lost, but Liza became a little miffed. In 2001, she told them to play her version after a win, or not play it at all. The Yankees opted to play the Sinatra version after every game, regardless of the outcome.
|Characteristic||Old Stadium [as of 2008]||New Stadium|
|Opening Day||April 18, 1923||April 16, 2009|
|Capacity||56,886||50,287 (52,325 w/standing room)|
|Video scoreboard||25 feet (7.6 m) by 33 feet (10 m)
|59 feet (18 m) by 101 feet (31 m)
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