Friday, March 17, 2006

“Yankee ‘Classic’: Plan would re-create stadium of 1920s” in Newsday, November 26, 1993

By now you have heard of the Ferrer 1998 Yankee Village plan to renovate Yankee Stadium for less than $200 million. That wasn't the only plan bouncing around about renovation since the last renovation. A SaveOurParks reader forwarded a copy of the following article which you can check for yourself in the Newsday's archives online. It looks like there has always been plans about renovating The House That Ruth Built with more luxury boxes, more concession stands, a fancy restaurant and improved bathrooms so why does George Steinbrenner and Randy Levine now want to destroy the historic stadium and build a new one with public subsidies on our public parkland? Got GREED?

Yankee ‘Classic’: Plan would re-create stadium of 1920s in Newsday, November 26, 1993

By Rob Polner and Walter Fee, on page 4

New York – Monuments to Babe Ruth and other Yankee greats would be returned to center field, under closely guarded plans to re-create the classic 1920s look of Yankee Stadium, according to officials who asked not to be identified.

Putting the legendary stone slabs back into play – and moving the center field wall back to 461 feet from home plate – is one of the most controversial calls in the architectural plans drawn up by the city Parks Department, the officials said.

The blueprints are being reviewed by city and state officials seeking to prevent Yankees owner George Steinbrenner from making good on the threat of moving his team to the Meadowlands in New Jersey. The officials spoke about the stadium redesign proposal on condition they not be named. The sketches have not been released.

“The monuments would be back in fair territory just like they used to be,” said an official who added that he was impressed by the design but concerned that Steinbrenner might object to placing the markers on the field.

“It would make for a more interesting, exciting game and would emphasize this is the people’s stadium – it belongs to the history of the city,” he added.

Overall the hallmark of the architectural plans is the restoration of Yankee Stadium’s original stone façade – an undertaking that would strip away $100 million in city-funded work done in the 1970s that shored up the ballpark, added parking garages and gave the exterior of the ballpark the look of then popular suburban-style stadiums.

In addition to restoring the monuments, officials said the Parks Department’s design plans call for either 111 or 52 new luxury suites arranged in two tiers in place of regular mezzanine seats, with the final number up to Steinbrenner. They said the plans also include a high-priced restaurant in the mezzanine overlooking right field, and a terrace near left field that would have a tent and be large enough to hold revenue generating picnics.

Parks Commissioner Betsy Gotham declined to discuss the plans, but said city and state officials are close to presenting a package of stadium and neighborhood improvements to Steinbrenner.

Some officials said moving back the outfield wall to make room on the playing field for the historic monuments may not sit well with Steinbrenner or the Players Association; neither could be reached for comment.

The monuments could make it harder, or even perilous for a centerfielder to catch a long fly ball. Or Steinbrenner might object because the center field wall, backed up to its 1937 distance of 461 feet, would be a stretch even for home run hitters like Yankee designated hitter Danny Tartabull. The wall is now 408 feet away. Monument Park is behind left-center, which used to be known as Death Valley when the wall was 457 from the plate. The markers are monuments to Ruth, Lou Gehrig and manager Miller Huggins.

Side bar:
1. Skyboxes (111) arranged in two tiers throughout the mezzanine section extending just beyond the infield. (A loss of 6,000 mezzanine seats, a gain of 2,000 luxury seats). Alternative: 52 skyboxes (Loss of mezzanine seats, gain of 1,040 luxury seats).
2. A two-tier restaurant would sit in the mezzanine area over rightfield, next to the luxury boxes. It would overlook the field.
3. The three original monuments to Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Miller Huggins would be restored to their original place.
4. The outfield would be reconfigured to their original distances, 461 feet dead center, (compared with 408 feet now) and 457 feet to left-center, which used to be called Death Valley. There would be a 3-foot fence down the lines just like the old days.
Other Changes:
• Bathrooms and hallways would be improved and concessions kiosks reconfigured through planners haven’t gotten down to specifics on that yet.
• For group picnics, a tented terrace on a raised platform would be added on the leftfield side between the bleachers and the stands (where maintenance vehicles are now stored).


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