Thursday, July 17, 2008

yankee stadium

Tuesday night was the 79th MLB All-Star game and this year the historic Yankee Stadium was the hosting venue for the final time.

Check out ESPN Zoom, which offers a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of Yankee Stadium!

I love baseball. As a Yankee fan living no more than 4 blocks east of the stadium, I've been very interested in the news surrounding this celebrated event. It was certain that there would be a great deal of buzz in the press surrounding this summer's interleague contest. I haven't been disappointed. During the days leading up to and following the All-Star game, I searched the Web for stories and articles about the game, the stadium, the nearby community and the Bronx. There's quite a bit out there.

After reading each story, I transfer and then, save it in a word document before archiving it in a folder which has been set aside for all topics relevant to my Harlem River Bridges Project. Yankee Stadium sits only a few blocks back from the Harlem River and the nearby Macombs Dam Bridge.

I have been most interested in reading about my community's views of the impact that the All-Star Game might have on them as well as how they feel about the new stadium that is scheduled to open in April 2009. It's apparent that the community is divided about it.

An estimated $1.3 billion is being spent on the new stadium's construction and the public has been forced to subsidize a significant portion of that cost. At the same time that the Yankees organization is washing itself in loads of unprecedented cash, my community remains one of the poorest Congressional districts in the country. The disenchantment between the community and the Steinbrenner family isn't new, however. It has been going on for decades and this is only the latest chapter in this seemingly endless soap opera. Some of my oldest neighbors look warily at the remarkable changes that have taken place in nearby Harlem and believe that a similar wave of gentrification is about to set foot in the South Bronx when the Yankees' new palatial home is completed. To them, this huge influx of capital and political will is part of a larger, more sinister scheme in which the ultimate aim is to force out the local residents and small businesses, who would be pressed hard to remain with higher rents and property value.

On the other hand, others hope that the new stadium will help to spur a renaissance for local businesses while also improving the quality of life for its residents. The city has renovated the Grand Concourse, the main thoroughfare nearby Yankee Stadium, and improved some of the adjacent roads. It has promised to construct a new Metro-North station nearby, which will help to alleviate traffic in the area, especially during games, and provide the residents which another means of transportation. A new shopping district, hotel, school, and new parkland are also included in the plans of what is called the Yankee Stadium Redevelopment Project.

Advocates of the project argue that its ambitious scope will do a lot of good in trying to improve the lives of those in the community while helping to restore a more attractive image of the Bronx. The project's opponents feel that as in the past the Yankees and the city's politicians have offered empty promises to the community for the advantage of big business and all of those who attend the games, most of whom aren't from the area. This Trojan horse, they believe, will lead to even more hardship, suspicion, and alienation between the Yankees and the community.

I'm a huge Yankees fan. I love their history and the tradition of the team. The Yankees, like no other American sports team, personifies greatness and class. The names - Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Berra, Mantle, Maris, Jackson, Jeter, Rivera, and countless others - say it all. And Yankee Stadium remains without doubt the most historic arena in the history of American sports and remarkably, it's right in my backyard. As someone said, it's our Colosseum. However, my admiration for the team's unprecedented success doesn't mean that I'm unaware or condone the unscrupulous practices of its front office.

Like some of my neighbors, I see the warning signs in the information surrounding the new ballpark. There will be about 4,500 less seats and to top it off, they'll be even more expensive than today's. More seats for the corporate guys, but less for the average Joe. The Yankees have achieved the highest attendance ratings in baseball for the past several years and many of their home games are sold out. What does this mean for the average fan, who struggles to take his or her family to a game right now, let alone the thousands of people in the neighborhood who can only dream about attending one. Food and beverages at the concession stands are ridiculously priced. Finally, according to reports, the city and the Yankees have not fulfilled their promises to replace in a timely manner all the parkland that was lost in the construction of the new stadium.

I'm hopeful but cautious. There's a lot of potential. If done right, I think this project could achieve significant improvements for the area and help to weaken the antiquated claim that this is a place to be avoided. The neighborhood too must be held responsible and it needs to clean up its own act. People need to stop going around and finding fault with everyone else for their own ills. If people don't care about how and where they live, why should anyone else. Some of the responsibility does indeed fall on my community too.

To learn more, check these out:

Destroying the High Temple in the Bronx

Rip-Off In the Bronx

Some in South Bronx Feel Left Behind By MLB

Now Bronx Is Yearning for Respect

The Bronx Is Booming, but Not for All, Report Finds

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Blooming - and Bursting with Gardens, Birds and Parks


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