Yanks to keep Stadium's hallowed name
Team announces its rejection of corporate appellation
NEW YORK -- No one does the Yankees as well as the Yankees. No professional sports franchise carries itself so consistently, so majestically and, at the same time, so simply. The Yankees know their place in the game, in the city and in the stylebooks. They understand that putting names on the backs of their uniforms would constitute heresy and would prompt scorn, that changing their color scheme would provoke protest and to stage home games anywhere other than an arena named Yankee Stadium -- 1974 and 1975 notwithstanding -- would be counterfeit, disingenuous and, well ... spiritually wrong.
Maintaining their understated ways and protecting their image of tradition often is a savings -- what expense can be incurred by not changing their logo? The Yankees' steadfast sameness seldom is an economic measure.
This time it is, though, and one of enormous fiscal consequence. The location of Yankee Stadium is to change in 12 months, from one side of 161st Street to the other. Not so the identity of the arena in which American sports' most storied franchise conducts its business. Fifty million dollars per year would buy an Alex Rodriguez annually or a Jorge Posada perennially. But the Yankees say they have purchased perfection permanently by rejecting all naming right inquiries.
"You don't re-name the White House or the Grand Canyon," Lonn Trost said Thursday, acknowledging $50 million isn't just a ballpark figure. Moreover, the Yankees COO said the construction cost will exceed the announced $830 million by a half billion. In the name of tradition, the successor to The House That Ruth Built and John Lindsay refurbished will cost $1.3 billion to build.
The cost is for the Yankees to calculate, meet and privately lament. "We'll make it up some way," said Trost. Their public won't care about that anymore come 2009, when the gates open for the first time, than it cared about Derek Jeter's salary the night he sailed into the boxes in '04. The name of the park does matter, though.
And now it has been said -- promised -- that no corporate appellation will be affixed to new place, though the line of corporations willing to slap their names on it would stretch from what became 3-Com Park (nee Candlestick) in San Francisco to U.S Cellular Field in Chicago.
So we all can carry on, referring to it as we have since 1923 -- The Stadium. Even when saying it, the T and the S are understood to be uppercase letters. No acronym will evolve in the Bronx -- not like the BOB (Bank One Ballpark) did in Phoenix. The Ballpark of the Steinbrenner Siblings will not be nicknamed The BOSS. At least that is the Yankees' wish.
News of the Yankees' decision to remain true to their image surfaced Thursday when Trost led media members on a tour of the Yankees' future home, a ballpark that the club intends to have replicate features of the team's former and current homes.
For the most part, the new stadium will be true to the Yankee Stadium that existed for 50 years, through 1973, beginning with the wonderfully regal entrance behind home plate -- Gate 4. The façade is in place with the words "Yankee Stadium" in gold inlay above three high-arched openings.
From the northbound lane of the adjacent Major Degan Expressway, the limestone and granite façade conveys the majesty of the original Yankee Stadium. The Guggenheim-inspired spiral ramp that denies the renovated stadium comparable grandeur will not be replicated -- or spared when he current park is eliminated.
Trost, who oversees the construction, attributed the increase in the construction figure to the addition of a 58-by-103-foot high definition video screen in center field, construction delays and that the initial estimate didn't reflect the cost of concession areas and all features involved with their operation. But the added expense also may reflect the club's intention to recreate, as much as possible, the building that served Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.
Toward that objective, the Yankees launched a worldwide search for limestone consistent with what was used in construction of the original park, finally finding a comparable product in Indiana. It will afford the new façade a touch of yellow missing in its annually repainted grey predecessor.
A point to be made is that a "façade" will surround each gate. The roof overhang that made the first Stadium so distinctive and was repeated behind the bleachers in the current park is not a façade, though Mantle identified it as that after one of his home runs ricocheted off it -- and mispronounced it as the fa-KADE. It is, rather, the frieze.
Thirty-nine new sections of steel frieze -- six tons each and covered with seven coats of paint -- will be installed above the entire grandstand.
Trost, who knows his Yankees history, knows Mantle once reached the frieze and once the lights above it. And he knows no one has hit a fair ball out of the park -- either incarnation -- even though his father insisted Josh Gibson did. Trost is convinced no one will leave the new place either.
Mixed with the similarities to the old parks will be the new features -- amenities -- the Yankees say will be distinctive even in this era of replacement parks: A concierge desk where arrangements for theater tickets and reservations for flights and Broadway theaters may be made, air-conditioned/heated bullpens and dugouts, sports bars, a banquet center, a business center with video conferencing so that corporate groups can conduct daytime meetings and attend games, a martini bar, a steak house (open year-round), a collector's shop, picnic area, and of course luxury suites, outdoor suites and party suites.
"We tried to reflect a five-star hotel and put a ballfield in the middle," Trost said.
Not all things Yankees are understated.
Area covered will be 63 percent greater than the current park, but The Stadium, as the Yankees fact sheet put it, "will accommodate approximately 53,000 fans (including standing room, slightly fewer than the current Yankee Stadium).
The field dimensions will be identical to the existing stadium. Even the sun field in left will be the same -- and dangerous. A pennant porch will be included; so too auxilary scoreboards in left- and right-center field, similar to those that existed in the Forties through the early Seventies. They are to be operated -- by hand -- by young fans. "Unless we have union problems," Trost said.
"We've tried to think of everything," Trost said. Or as someone once wrote about the Yankees of shipbuilder Steinbrenner, "to leave no stern untoned."
Monument Park is to be transferred, of course, to the area behind center field. Other items of historical significance may be moved as well. What hasn't yet been determined is how to transfer the spirits that inhabit the current park, "the ghosts" Jeter invokes in critical October instances.
"We'll find a way," Trost said.
But Jason Zillo, the media relations director, later issued a caution. "Not yet," he said. "We still need 'em this year."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.