Mr. Bloomberg, Tear Down That Stadium! (March 9, 2009)

by Neil deMause

This whole building-a-new-stadium thing just isn’t going the way Yankees execs had planned it. Instead of celebrating the opening of the $1.3 billion palace that team COO Lonn Trost memorably described as “a five-star hotel with a ballfield in the middle,” this has turned into the winter of the Yanks’ discontent.

First the final season of the old Yankee Stadium was ruined when the team missed the playoffs for the first time since before anyone had heard of Monica Lewinsky. Then Assemblymember Richard Brodsky spoiled team officials’ offseason by continually subpeonaing them about what he called “Soviet-style” tactics in getting city money for the project. Then came Polegate, with longtime ticket plan buyers grousing that at the new stadium they’d been relocated to seats behind the foul pole and charged for the privilege. Meanwhile, Bronx residents were wondering aloud when they’d get those new parks that are supposed to go up once the old stadium comes down; one community newspaper is running a “Tear It Down!” clock counting the days since Shea Stadium demolition began that its Bronx counterpart remains standing.

There can be only one solution: The city needs to move as quickly as possible to put this whole sorry episode behind us by starting demolition. Demolition, that is, of the new stadium.

Think about it. The construction jobs that the Yanks were touting from the project have already been created, and the workers are home busily hiding their money under mattresses where the banks can’t get at it. Tear down the new building, and the locals get their parks back right where they’re used to them. Ticketholders get their old seats back. The Yanks can even keep their $350 million in new parking garages as a gift from us for being such good sports – while getting a mulligan on their final Yankee Stadium season, hopefully putting it off until after Jose Molina has retired.

Jay Jaffe, the baseball writer and Yankee fan whose blog posts about his ticket woes have helped spur Polegate, says, “I think it’s a great idea! Tear it down, except for the luxury boxes. Those of us who pay for our own tickets can go back to the great seats we’ve enjoyed for all these years in The House That Ruth Built, while the fat cats can hobnob without missing a thing, as they didn’t come to watch the ballgame anyway.”

Or they can watch Bronx kids playing soccer. Which would likely be more entertaining than watching Jose Molina.