There is arguably no more storied franchise in sports than the New York Yankees, and few more celebrated sports stadiums than Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees (who weren’t even always the New York Yankees, but briefly the Baltimore Orioles and then the New York Highlanders for a decade) played at multiple different ballparks from their inception in 1901 through 1922, including sharing the Polo Grounds with their “landlord,” the New York Giants. During this time they won no World Championships, though they did manage two American League pennants, in 1921 and 1922.
Those dates are not coincidental. The main factor that brought them those pennants also gave them the popularity and revenue to build their own state of the art stadium in the Bronx. That factor’s name was Babe Ruth, the greatest player in baseball history. And that new stadium was Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees played at Yankee Stadium from 1923 to 2008, winning 37 more American League pennants, and 26 World Series Championships, including in the ballpark’s inaugural 1923 season.
In 2009, the Yankees opened a brand new stadium. Built directly across the street, and retaining the Yankee Stadium name, the Yankees hoped to also retain as much of the history and the intangibles that made the original Yankee Stadium such an iconic sports venue. (And of course they hoped to retain the winning tradition. Seeing as how they won the 2009 World Series, one would have to say “so far, so good” on that score.)
Herein, some interesting facts about the new Yankee Stadium:
* Construction began in 2006. The ballpark was built by HOK Sport (since renamed “Populous”), the same firm that has built the bulk of Major League Baseball stadiums since 1992, the period in which almost all new ballparks have been designed wholly or partly in a “retro” style.
* The stadium purposely retains many of the design elements of the original Yankee Stadium.
* Total cost of the stadium is estimated at $1.5 billion, which has come from a combination of public and private monies.
* The capacity of the old ballpark was 56,886; that of the new is 52,325. However, the seats are slightly wider, and there is more leg room between rows.
* The main scoreboard is 59 feet by 101 feet, more than seven times the square feet of that of the old ballpark, and is high definition.
* The primary dimensions of fair territory are identical to those of the old Yankee Stadium (318 feet down the left field line, 399 feet to left center, 408 feet to center, 385 feet to right center, 314 feet down the right field line). However, the outfield wall is shaped so as to make home runs slightly easier.
* The distance from home plate to the backstop has been reduced by 20 feet, and foul territory down the left and right field lines has been reduced as well. This too advantages hitters, since fewer foul balls will be caught as outs.
* The field is real grass, specifically Kentucky Bluegrass.
* There are 56 “luxury suites” and 410 “party suites” in the new Yankee Stadium, compared to 19 and zero, respectively, in the old.
* The concourses have been roughly doubled in width, to an average of 32 feet.
* There is one concession stand or vendor per 117 fans.
* There is one restroom fixture (i.e., toilet) per 60 fans, including 12 “family-style” restrooms.
* The first practice at the new Yankee Stadium was held on April 2, 2009, the first exhibition game on April 3, and the first regular season game on April 16.
* C.C. Sabathia threw the first pitch in a regular season game, and Jorge Posada hit the first home run.