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Pass the Grey Poupon

Over at Grantland, Peter Richmond asks: Why can’t Americans build arenas anymore?

Here’s his take on the new Yankee Stadium:

As a guy who spent considerable time in George Steinbrenner’s presence back when both he and I were cogent and unreasonable men (me the barbed newspaper scribe, he the pompous asshole who once called Hideki Irabu a “fat, pus-y toad”), I never expected the Yankees to look anywhere but backward with the new park. After all, this is a family that, in lockstep to George’s scarily tin-eared, tone-deaf take on himself, now runs its corporation by the family’s uncurious, unimaginative philosophy of “I haven’t a clue about vision … but can I buy the guy who everyone else thinks is good?”

So I wasn’t surprised that the new stadium, with its faux-gold façade lettering, emerged with a distinctly Gilded Age/decline-of-the-Roman Empire vibe. The first (and only) time I sat in those thousand-dollar seats behind home plate, and a comely woman who looked like a young Cameron Diaz kept sidling up to ask if I needed anything, I was wise enough to ask for nothing more exotic than shrimp cocktail.

I’ll grant you that the new one’s not a bad place to watch baseball (although annual attendance is a half-million lower than the last year in the old one). But the real problem with wrapping the new place in a retro-traditional-revivalist costume is that once you’re inside there’s not even the slightest pretense about trying to duplicate the original sensorial experience of watching a game in the old stadium, when the borough of the Bronx was part of the fabric of the team’s success. This was when you could reach out from the upper deck and touch the Buy DiNoto’s Bread sign, two stories high, painted in red, green, and white on the back of the six-story, yellow-brick apartment house on 845 Gerard Avenue; when the Ayn-Randian blue-steel screech of the no. 4 train coming to a halt at the 161st Street station wafted the sweet, industrial fragrance of railroad brake linings through the upper rows of the right-center-field bleachers.

But who can complain when the new place is packed with such sophisticated lures as a private dining room where toqued chefs serve crab roll sushi, strip loin, locavore haricots vert, and chocolate mousse?


1 William J.   ~  Aug 12, 2011 12:59 pm

With all due respect (I admit I don't know who the author is), this was a crappy article (or excerpt of one). Lots of things to take to task, but not knowing that the main (if only) reason attendance is down 500,000 is because of a smaller capacity speaks volumes.

2 monkeypants   ~  Aug 12, 2011 1:24 pm

[1] Of course one could argue that the significantly smaller capacity is yet another thing to contributes to the new stadium experience not replicating that of the old stadium.

3 RagingTartabull   ~  Aug 12, 2011 3:34 pm

I for one am totally OK with my stadium not looking like The Bird's Nest in Beijing.

4 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Aug 12, 2011 10:47 pm

Poor article. Juvenile humor about Chinese people eating snakes and cats, bizarre reference to Tianmen Square and also failed to mention the original design was an idea by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Also would have benefited from pictures of all the stadiums he mentioned.

5 Boatzilla   ~  Aug 13, 2011 4:39 am

[4] It's bewildering how American's always make fun of Asian food, when, in fact, most of the serious culinary world looks down on American chow. Why is it insane to eat horse flesh, but perfectly OK to eat cow or pig flesh? Why has the glorious tuna been turned into what amounts to cat food?

BTW, the Mets' attendance is down because the product on the field stinks, and when Reyes and Wright and Santana are out, there is absolutely no reason to go to Shitifield.

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