This Is Better?

I think the Yankees are smart to try to get more fans into the ballpark, but the changes they are making, detailed here, really don’t impress me.

I mean I love going to the playground with my 3-year old, but it’s not something I want to do at the ballgame. And while I understand these changes are directed at a younger generation than mine, I think they completely miss the reason why people aren’t going to the games.

Start with the most obvious problem with the new stadium, its lack of history. Yes, it is much more comfortable and convenient to get around, but the Yankees lost the magic of the old place. You could once look out at a field that had been the home to some of the greatest players and moments in baseball, that’s been lost. So the Stadium no longer has that draw and if you don’t have that draw, and you don’t have a great team, things get tougher.

Now that would probably matter less if the new place was remotely affordable. I don’t drive to the games, but I understand parking is ridiculous, like $40 or more. Add on a decent ticket in the upper deck is $30 and by the time you eat, a single fan has spent close to $100. For a family of four, a trip to the park could easily total $300 or more. And for $300 you can get a pretty nice HDTV these days which lets you watch all the games.

The other problem, and this is not a Yankee-centric problem, is the game of baseball is not a good fit for the modern attention span. Try having a conversation with someone under 30 and see if they can keep eye contact for the duration. I bet they can’t. And while I pick on younger people, I know plenty of people my age and older who can no longer pay attention to things the way we used to have to. I’m not sure what the solution is, but umpires who enforced the real strike zone and kept batters from leaving the box after every pitch and catcher from meeting on the mound three times an inning would help.

I keep wondering if the era of live sports is drawing to a close. The owners of all the major sports have surrendered control to the TV networks while the stadiums they build are really geared to the ultra-wealthy. To me, this is a short-sighted strategy because the big spenders of tomorrow need to get hooked today, but we will have to see what the future holds. Maybe the jungle gyms will be enough.