The new Yankee Stadium is a stadium currently under construction, that will serve as the home baseball park for the New York Yankees. It will replace and assume the name of the previous Yankee Stadium, built in 1923. The new ballpark is being constructed across the street, west and north of the 1923 Yankee Stadium, on the present site of Macombs Dam Park in the New York City borough of the Bronx. New Yankee Stadium is set to open on April 16, 2009 with a Yankees game against the Cleveland Indians.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for the stadium took place on August 16, 2006, the 58th anniversary of Babe Ruth's death, with George Steinbrenner (the Yankees' owner), Michael Bloomberg (the Mayor of New York City) and George Pataki (then the Governor of New York State) among the notables donning Yankees hard hats and wielding ceremonial shovels to mark the occasion. The new facility's opening day is planned to coincide with that of Citi Field, future home of the New York Mets. The projected total cost of 1.6 billion U.S. dollars makes it the second most expensive stadium ever built after the new Wembley Stadium in London.
The Yankees' desire to move to a new stadium dates back to the 1980s, when Yankee owner George Steinbrenner publicly considered a move of the franchise to a safer area of the New York City metropolitan area, even the possibility of moving the team across the Hudson River over to New Jersey. The South Bronx was considered a bad neighborhood. However, in the 1990s, with the team becoming successful on the field, attendance increased dramatically. With the large number of people coming to the Bronx, and the increased security in the area on game days, the public safety situation became less of a problem, and thoughts turned to a new or renovated stadium in the Bronx.
Days before leaving office in December 2001, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani announced "tentative agreements" for both the New York Yankees and New York Mets to build a $5 billion stadium. Of $1.6 billion sought for the stadiums, city and state taxpayers would pick up half the tab for construction, $800 million, along with $390 million on extra transportation. The plan also called for forgiving $80,000 that the Mets owed the city in cable revenues and giving both teams an additional $25 million in planning money. The plan also said that the teams would be allowed to keep all parking revenues, which state officials had already said they wanted to keep to compensate the state for building new garages for the teams. The teams would keep 96% of ticket revenues and 100% of all other revenues, not pay sales tax or property tax on the stadiums, and would get low-cost electricity from New York state. Business officials criticized the plan as giving too much money to successful teams with little reason to move to a different city.
During his eight years as mayor, Giuliani was a constant advocate of publicly funded stadiums. The dual $1 billion plans had also been put forth unsuccessfully by Giuliani in 1996. Giuliani faced questions about how to finance these stadiums, while the city struggled to balance the budget. Recently built stadiums in Baltimore and Cleveland had cost one-third to one-fourth the $1.3 billion set aside for the proposed New York stadiums; the $1 billion stadiums were to be the most expensive in American history. His 1998 plan to relocate the Yankees to the west side of Manhattan had been met with strong opposition; at that time, $3 million in city money was given to the Yankees for site planning. Six city officials were sent on a city trip to explore stadiums in Baltimore, Denver and other cities.
Michael Bloomberg, who succeeded Giuliani as mayor, exercised the escape clause in the agreements to back out of both deals, saying that the city could not afford to build new stadiums for the Yankees and Mets. Bloomberg said that unbeknownst to him, Giuliani had inserted a clause in this deal which loosened the teams' leases with the city and would allow the Yankees and Mets to leave the city on 60 days' notice to find a new home elsewhere if the city backed out of the agreement. At the time, Bloomberg said that publicly funded stadiums were a poor investment. Under Bloomberg, the New York City government would only offer public financing for infrastructure improvements; the teams would have to pay for the stadiums themselves. Bloomberg called the former mayor's agreements "corporate welfare." Giuliani had already been instrumental in the construction of taxpayer-funded minor league baseball facilities KeySpan Park for the Mets' minor league Brooklyn Cyclones and Richmond County Bank Ballpark for the Staten Island Yankees.
On June 18, 2008, the Yankees announced two new restaurants will open in the new stadium, and will be open year round to both ticket holders and non ticket holders. A Hard Rock Cafe and a new restaurant named NYY Steak will both be located beyond right field; neither eatery will have a view of the field.
The new stadium's design, by HOK Sport, consists of two separate structures. The Indiana limestone exterior will be a wall circling the perimeter of the Yankees' new property, and will resemble the pre-renovation exterior of the original Yankee Stadium. The interior will be a modern ballpark, with increased amenities. It will feature a replica of the copper frieze that lined the inner wall of Yankee Stadium's upper deck until 1973, a lining torn down during the 1974–75 renovations. A replica of this frieze lines the portion of the original structure that was removed during those renovations, beyond the outfield wall. It is above the bleachers and faces River Avenue. The Yankees use this frieze as a marketing tool on television and in print, and have allowed the sporting-goods chain Modell's to use it, as well.
Between the perimeter and the stadium will be a "great hall" with more than of retail space, a significant increase from the current ballpark.
The new stadium will be served by the same station complex as the current stadium: 161st Street–Yankee Stadium of the New York City Subway. The stadium will also be served by multiple bus lines and have ferry service. Construction has begun on a Metro-North Railroad station to serve commuters from Manhattan via Grand Central Terminal and 125th Street and from New York's northern suburbs.
This project had been promoted for several decades, and in the MTA's annual budget since the 1980s. Despite being part of the old Yankee Stadium renovation plan during the 1970s, plans for the station did not go ahead until the impetus from New Yankee Stadium.
The new station will provide service to all three Metro North lines (Hudson, Harlem and New Haven) via existing track connections that are not normally used for revenue passenger services. Approximately ten trains before and after the games will serve the station and will allow riders to leave from and travel to stations on all three Metro North lines. A shuttle train will also transport fans between the stadium and Grand Central Terminal, potentially helping to reduce traffic on the subway lines used to connect to New Jersey Transit and Long Island Railroad trains at Penn Station.
Rather than the $800 million value affixed to the stadium (which is for the stadium and not for the parking garages, highway improvements and other items associated with the construction), independent analysts have set the tab for the complete project closer to $1.3 billion. The city's share includes allowing the Yankees to occupy 22 acres of Macombs Dam Park and John Mullaly Park (which is already used for stadium parking on game days), and to build parking garages on those parks. City-funded artificial surface will be placed on top of those parking garages to make up for the lost parkland. The city would retain ownership of the land, but would not charge the Yankees rent or property taxes. The city currently charges rent at Yankee Stadium; no sports teams pay property taxes in New York. In addition, the city would foot the bill for acquiring scattered parcels of land near the waterfront, about a half-mile away, and building smaller parks there, even though the project was precipitated by the Yankees' desire to acquire the current parkland. The cost of renovating the existing parkland would be about $25 million; building new parkland will cost $150 million. That cost includes demolition costs for the historic Yankee Stadium, which would be completely torn down. The building's destruction would be paid for entirely by the city and replaced with parkland. The city will also issue tax-exempt bonds for the Yankees' new stadium. The Yankees would repay those bonds with payments in lieu of taxes; the Yankees have not paid taxes.
The Yankees have arranged for the lease on Yankee Stadium to be classified as an 'operating lease' even though many accountants think that the Yankees' early involvement in the building of the stadium should have precluded operating lease accounting. This is extremely important to the financing because it means that the Yankees will be able to keep significantly more revenue from the stadium and will not have to share it with the rest of Major League Baseball.
New York state taxpayers will pay $70 million to help the Yankees build parking garages (as authorized by the State Legislature). The parking garage project would cost $320 million. City and State taxpayers will forgo up to $7.5 million annually in lost taxes resulting from the sale of $225 million in tax-exempt bonds authorized on October 9, 2007, by the New York City Industrial Development Agency (administered by the New York City Economic Development Corporation) to finance construction and renovation of the parking garages. However, if the parking revenues are not enough to pay a reported $3.2 million land lease to the City of New York, the entity that will operate the parking garages and collect revenue will be able to defer that payment. State taxpayers, through money that has accumulated from the MTA's budget since the 1980s, will also pay all of the costs of a train station on the Metro-North commuter railroad.
In addition to the public subsidies and billions of dollars of increased revenue, the Yankees will benefit from a change to Major League Baseball's 2002 collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which allows teams to deduct new-stadium building costs from the revenue-sharing payments they make. For the Yankees, whose $200 million player payroll makes them the largest contributor to the revenue-sharing pool, this means 40 percent of their share of the price tag may be borne by the remaining 29 baseball teams. All told, the Yankees and the taxpayers can each expect to pay about $450 million, and the Yankees will cover the remaining costs from diverting revenue sharing payments that would have been paid to the other baseball teams.
Lonn A. Trost, the Chief Operating Officer of the Yankees, confirmed in February, 2008 that the new stadium would retain its original name, Yankee Stadium.
The largest objections have come from neighborhood residents. Unlike previous stadium discussions, this one took place without the community's input. The Yankees obtained preapproval from the relevant legislators before announcing their plan, allowing no room for negotiation. The transfer of Macombs Dam and John Mullaly Parks was passed by the New York State Legislature without a public hearing in the days after the stadium’s design was unveiled. Opponents say this violates state and federal laws designed to protect parkland.
City officials, including Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr., say the parkland will be replaced with better parks. Community groups say the new parks would be small and scattered, compared with the 22 acres of central, continuous open space that was available. Some parks would be built on the Harlem River waterfront, which is one mile (1.6 km) away from the current parkland and requires walking under an interstate highway and over railroad tracks to access. Ten acres of the replacement parks would be built on artificial surface atop new parking garages; these parks would be closed to accommodate fans' cars on the 81 home game days, which account for almost half of the days during the six-month baseball season. Other parks would be built on the site of Yankee Stadium, which would be completely torn down. The city has agreed to pay $150 million for the new parks and to demolish Yankee Stadium. Health advocates are concerned about the effect of increasing exhaust fumes and loss of 377 mature trees on this Bronx neighborhood, which has one of the highest childhood asthma rates in the United States.
Parks advocates contend that the Yankees are taking advantage of the neighborhood, which comprises the poorest congressional district in the United States. Comparisons have been made to other neighborhoods, such as those surrounding Prospect Park in Brooklyn and Central Park in Manhattan, where every inch of parkland is carefully guarded from the incursion of private business onto these public spaces.
Community groups wanted the Yankees to use several available parcels of land south of East 161st Street to build their stadium, or to renovate Yankee Stadium. A plan discussed in 1998 estimated the cost of stadium renovation at $200 million. Renovating the existing parkland would cost about $25 million.
The Yankees and elected officials have also said that Yankee Stadium is "falling apart". The city's Buildings Department, which examines all city-owned buildings (including Yankee Stadium) annually, says the stadium is structurally sound enough to stand for many decades to come, despite a 1998 accident where one of the stadium's support beams collapsed hours before a game was scheduled to be played.
It also ensures that the Yankees will remain in New York City for the next several decades. In the 1980s, the Yankees flirted publicly with relocating to the Meadowlands Sports Complex, saying that fans—many of whom live outside New York City itself—were unwilling to travel to the South Bronx for games, mostly because of traffic concerns (the current stadium can be accessed by subway, but not by Metro-North) and crime concerns outside the stadium. Even when the team won the 1996 World Series, few weekday home games drew crowds much beyond half the stadium's capacity, and some did not exceed 20,000 spectators. The recent upswing in attendance, partially due to $5.00 tickets for selected mid-week night games since 2002 (the Yankees have attracted 4 million fans a season each year since 2005, averaging nearly a sellout every game) has rendered those arguments moot.
Finally, supporters of the new stadium point out that the New Yankee Stadium actually resembles the original "classic" Yankee Stadium more than the current structure (due to the 1974-75 renovations). The original Stadium was a multi-purpose stadium, designed for football, track meets, and non-sports related gatherings, as well as baseball. The new venue will be a baseball-only stadium.
|Old Stadium||New Stadium|
|Opening Day||April 18, 1923||April 16, 2009|
|Capacity||56,866||52,325 (includes standing room)|
|Seat width||18" to 22" (46 to 55 cm)||19" to 24" (48 to 61 cm)|
|Legroom||29.5" (75 cm)||33" to 39" (84 to 99 cm)|
| Concourse width|
|Cup holders||None||All seats in the lower bowl|
|Restroom ratio||1 per 89 fans||1 per 60 fans|
| Public elevators|
(Otis Gen2 MRL Traction)
|Video scoreboard|| 25' by 33' |
(7.6 x 10.1 m)
(Standard Definition LED)
| 59' by 101' |
(18 x 30.8 m)
(High Definition LED)
|Distance from Home Plate to:|
|Left Field||318'||318' ( 96.9 m)|
|Left Center||399'||399' (121.6 m)|
|Center Field||408'||408' (124.4 m)|
|Right Center||385'||385' (117.3 m)|
|Right Field||314'||314' ( 95.7 m)|
|Source: The New York Yankees|