Itinerary: Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium facade

In baseball, tradition rules. This is especially true for baseball parks, as places like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field are considered bastions of baseball history, not to be disparaged or trifled with in any way. Then there’s the old Yankee Stadium, which for 85 years was host to a ton of indelible baseball moments as the “House That Ruth Built”… until it was unceremoniously torn down after the 2008 season. In its place sits a ballpark that was meant to be a reasonable facsimile of the old ballpark but really feels more like most of the modern stadiums that have been built over the last 20 years.

I, for one, don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but perhaps I come into this from a little bit different perspective. I went to the old Yankee Stadium exactly once, in 2000. My recollections are as follows: It was a really hot, really humid Sunday afternoon; the subway train we thought would take us directly to the stadium inexplicably stopped at an intermediary station, where everyone got out except Mrs. Fan, me and some other unsuspecting dude, and then the doors closed, trapping us in the train for 10 minutes; we missed out on Monument Park because we arrived too late; our seats in the center-field bleachers had absolutely no protection from the sun, forcing Mrs. Fan to retreat to the tunnel after barely two innings and me to do the same shortly thereafter; and Bob Sheppard’s voice on the PA really was as glorious as everyone says it was.

OK, so I don’t have as many fond memories of the old Stadium as I should have. But there’s something to be said for modern amenities, too, and new Yankee Stadium has that in spades. For $1.5 billion, of course, it should.

Yankee Stadium concourse

The approach

If you’re a visitor to New York, the subway is the way to go — whether it’s Yankee Stadium or just about any other destination you’re heading to. And despite the story told above, it’s really not difficult to get there using the subway, particularly from midtown Manhattan, which is where Mrs. Fan and I were coming from. The B, D and 4 lines all run to the 161st Street/Yankee Stadium station from Manhattan. The station is located southeast of the ballpark, so getting there requires crossing busy 161st Street (don’t worry, there are stoplights, crosswalks and traffic cops). If you’re coming from the ‘burbs, or larger trains are just your thing, MTA’s Metro-North line runs reasonably close to the stadium as well with a stop at 153rd Street.

We took an express B train from midtown, a 15-minute trip, and this time we didn’t get locked in a stopped train. Unless you’re seriously claustrophobic, it can only be a good thing to be on a subway train and watch it get more and more crowded with people wearing gear of one of the teams you’re about to watch, so by the time we were going through Harlem, the number of Yankees fans pressed up against me made me confident my train was going in the right direction.

I’ve never driven or taken a cab to the stadium, nor do I plan to. But I’m willing to bet that, unless you’re coming from a location in the Bronx, these options are considerably more expensive, whether it’s taxi fare or parking.

Yankee Stadium scoreboard

The build-up

If you’re looking the right direction, the first thing you’ll see when you descend from the elevated 161st Street station is not the stadium but Heritage Field, a public complex of baseball fields that sits where the old ballpark once stood. On this night the park was full of activity, and even just watching from a distance, it’s hard not to notice the little tributes to the old House that Ruth Built — most prominently a portion of the old frieze that adorned the stadium’s rooftop.

Otherwise, unless you know the Bronx well, there isn’t much to do around the area. You can find some eateries and bars along River Avenue (the street underneath the set of train tracks that run by the stadium), but if you’re coming from Manhattan, your time is probably better spent checking out everything the ballpark has to offer.

Yankee Stadium diamond

The ambiance

It’s Yankee Stadium, right? There’s ambiance overflowing out the joint, no? Well, how you feel about the place probably depends on what you like out of your ballparks. As much as they tried to replicate it in the new joint, a lot of the history was lost when they tore down the old ballpark. But lost, too, was the griminess and cramped corridors and other issues that came with the old park. Me, I tend to like new, shiny things, and so I was mostly impressed with New Yankee Stadium.

It really begins outside the stadium, where, if you’re approaching from the subway station and crossing 161st Street, you’ll enter what’s called Babe Ruth Plaza and get your first close-up look at the granite exterior of the stadium. Once inside, the main concourse is huge, quite wide and full of cool things to look at if you’re observant (just don’t block the path of passersby, please). Closer to the stands and field, you have your normal array of concession stands, lined with tributes to the Yankees’ many, many championships. Venture more toward the outside of the stadium and there’s the Great Hall, devoted mostly to stars of the Yankees’ past and present (and there’s a Hard Rock Cafe there, but that’s neither here nor there as far as I’m concerned).

Mrs. Fan and I went through the turnstiles about 20 minutes before first pitch through the home-plate gate, and wound our way around the main concourse to center field in hopes of catching at least a fleeting glimpse of the new Monument Park. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be this time either. First, we couldn’t find the entrance — there are signs as you enter the outfield portion of the concourse, but the actual entrance is a white door in the middle of a white hallway. Very easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention. And besides, the entrance closes half an hour before first pitch.

So we headed to our seats in the 400 level, but not before trying to find something to eat. After seeing the impressive array of food options at Citi Field, we thought for sure that Yankee Stadium would have a few elaborate choices. And don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of good options, it just wasn’t to the extent that Citi Field offered — and there’s no Shake Shack. But there was a stand that served sliders, and it had a deal that we found too tempting to turn down — five sliders (choice of beef, fried chicken or buffalo chicken) and fries, served in a bucket suitable for a kid to take to the beach, and a soda for $20. It turned out to be too much food, even for us, but it was more than satisfactory.

To get up into the upper reaches of Yankee Stadium, you have to take a series of escalators, but nothing too daunting. Our seats were in section 420B, about 6 rows from the top, and though we had a clearer view of the frieze than anything else, our view of the field wasn’t too bad. I think we were bothered more by the noticeable number of bros in our section, including a dude in a wifebeater directly in front of us who performed such family-friendly acts as complain in a vulgar fashion about the number of steps he had to climb and call out to his girlfriend using a nickname that rhymes with “cities.” But I suppose that’s the kind of crowd you’re going to get in the cheap seats in New York.

That guy was gone by the seventh inning, so he missed a fantastic finish, the Yankees winning on a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth. But truth be told, so did we — knowing we faced an early wake-up call the next morning, we decided to bail after watching Mariano Rivera’s entrance in the top of the ninth. That decision led to us standing on the subway platform for a good 20 minutes waiting for the next train to arrive, which it did just as an avalanche of fans began arriving, a sure sign the game had ended. Oh well — we made it back to Manhattan at a decent hour, and with no unscheduled stops in between.

Edward de la FuenteEdward de la Fuente | Itinerant Fan
I live for sports, and I love to travel. My biggest thrill is combining the two. I’ve been blogging about sports travel for more than a decade, and traveling for sports for twice as long.
About me | FAQ | Buy me a beer 🍺

Affiliate Disclosure
Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you make a purchase. These recommendations are only for companies that we’ve used and have proven to enhance our sports travel experiences. To find out more about our affiliate partnerships, please read our Affiliate Disclaimer.

Share this post:
This entry was posted in MLB, Stadium guides. Bookmark the permalink.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments