I'm a season ticket holder with the New York Yankees, happily enjoying the best -- and cheapest -- seats in the house in the bleachers. Ticket prices have doubled for those seats in three years and I just got off the phone with the Yankees asking for a few more days to scrape together money for the post-season package (which they graciously granted.) And there in my email box is a heartbreaking letter from a fellow Yankee fan, a father who brought his son to countless games to share the joy of the game, exactly the sort of every-day fan you want to be coming to the Stadium again and again. And he had to let his season tickets go. Here's the letter he sent out:
Dear New York Yankees,
My son and I have decided to give up our season tickets to the Yankees.
It was an obvious decision in many ways, but not an easy one. After all, my son and I have been sitting together in the bleachers for the past 11 years -- since he was fourteen, to be exact.
Over those years we saw some of the most memorable moments in Yankee history, including the home run in October of 2003 that sent the Yankees to The World Series and their hated rivals, The Boston Red Sox, back to Bean Town with mud on their faces. Then there was the beautiful June evening in 2004 when Derek Jeter dove into the stands to catch a foul ball and end a rally that would have cost them the game and a three game sweep -- again, against their pals from Boston. This game that I just mentioned is often featured in Yankees advertising for its highlights, including announcer Michael Kay's exclamation, "Oh My! That is one of the greatest games you will ever see!"
Yet, perhaps the most memorable and enjoyable aspect of those seats in the old stadium was that they were relatively inexpensive -- just six bucks. The toll at the GW Bridge was three or four bucks and parking was five. So we often went to all three games of a midweek home stand, and thus it became something we just did. The toll at the bridge is now twelve dollars and parking is thirty-four. The seats are now twelve and come with a serious obstructed view of left field; that view is blocked by the centerfield sports bar. The thought that any seat in the house could come with such a serious obstruction is, in itself, an indictment of those who designed the stadium or, more specifically, those who guided them.
We also had the pleasure to meet and sit with a great bunch of guys, and at least one girl, whom we saw year after year. Special among them were Gerry and his uncle Pat. We've been sitting with them all along and we'll miss them.
In the end, the real reason we're giving up our seats is the new Yankee Stadium itself. It is no longer The House That Ruth Built, nor is it The Cathedral of Baseball. It is, rather, the handiwork of architects, planners, and marketeers who left no stone unturned in their quest for revenue production. It is, as my son so poignantly observed, The House That Greed Built.
Several years ago, when they announced that a new Yankee Stadium would be built and that the old stadium would be torn down, I told my ticket agent that this was a disaster. He told me that I should understand that the Yankees were, first and foremost, a business. I instructed him that he was wrong. The Yankees were not a business. They were, and remain, a community trust. All baseball teams are. Unfortunately, they're in the hands of corporate greed. The same corporate greed that runs our country with one thing, and only one thing, in mind. And the players are no better -- it's the American Way.
They'd sell the rights to our flag if they could. And they might have that chance some day yet.
A Yankee fan