11/21/08 1:07 PM EST
Yankee Stadium nearing completion
New home for Bombers about 90 percent built as winter knocks
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
The original stadium was built by Yankee ownership at the cost of $2.5 million. Since the renovation, it has been operated by the New York Park and Recreation Department, which will make the decision when to tear it down.The Yanks are currently negotiating with that entity to sell the seats and other objects from the old stadium. In the case of Shea Stadium, which is already under demolition, Park and Recreation is salvaging toilets and other fixtures to be used in parks throughout the city, while the Mets have been selling the seats and almost everything else. Save for the monuments -- and home plate, which was moved to the new stadium earlier this month -- the old Yankee Stadium stands pretty much intact, its 55,000 faded blue seats waiting to endure another winter. At the new park, Yankees officials dug up those initial Yankee Stadium architectural plans and from it relocated the famous curved and striped "frieze" that hovered high above the bleachers in the renovated ballpark back to where it once was: running around the stadium below the lights on the fringe of the upper deck overhang from left field all the way around to right. The new stadium is airy and open, with complete views of the field from every concourse, rest room and concession stand, no matter what level. The congestion in the concourses and the problems of ingress and egress in the old stadium are now left in the past. Like the original stadium, the auxiliary scoreboards are located on the fences in left-center and right-center fields. Those scoreboards are hand-operated, and the one in left-center was installed this week. The new yard will seat 53,000, but every one of those seats has an unencumbered view of home plate, even though the new stadium reaches about the same height as the old one. Most of the seats are much closer to the field than the old stadium, where the catcher squatted about 70 feet from the backstop. In the new park, that distance is about 50 feet. The field dimensions are identical to the old stadium: 318 feet down the left-field line, 314 feet down the right-field line, 408 feet in dead center, 399 feet in left-center and 385 in right-center. Around the concourses, the concession stands are in and the cleanup is under way. In five months, it will be alive with crowds and there will be baseball to be played.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.