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Yankees take small step in the right direction with Yankee Stadium enhancements

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It isn’t perfect, but at least it isn’t another moat

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Yankee Stadium sucks. We all know it. The place gives off the vibe of a ballpark facsimile, a baseball-themed Las Vegas casino. It’s concrete on concrete on steel, a corporate lighthouse for brands lost in the night, and it leaves the fans wanting something that feels a little bit more authentic. The Yankees just announced the stadium will undergo a few ‘enhancements’ in the offseason, and though they don’t fix much of anything about the ballpark, it might actually be a tiny, tiny step in the right direction. You just have to squint a bit.

According to an email sent out by the team, the Yankees are making these changes in order to include more family-friendly areas in the ballpark, as well as more socially-oriented spaces. Regardless of their full intention of these changes, it’s clear that these new features will offer a broader experience for the diverse population that make up Yankees fans. You have the Yankees Museum and Monument Park for the traditional fans, but more options for the Millennial demographic as well. The changes provide places for young families to enjoy and gives those looking for a social atmosphere a place to hang out.

I don’t think these additions really do much for the core group of disenfranchised Yankees fans, but at least we’re not going in the wrong direction here. At least they are introducing premium sections for non-premium customers. I will try to say some nice things if I can.

The Sunrun® Kids Clubhouse

I’m a fan of the idea, but I’m not entirely sure about the execution. This looks more like a Honey, I Shrunk the Kids babysitting play set than anything that young fans will actually find entertaining. It’s great for young parents who feel like they can finally bring their two-year-old child places, but it doesn’t sound like a place for anyone over the age of, say, seven. There will apparently be some other exhibits, but the press release wasn’t specific on that front. The playpen will be located on the 300 level in right field.

MasterCard® Batter’s Eye Deck

This pretty much already exists, except it appears they will be expanding the area to offer more walking room. Really all they might be doing is eliminating the stupid partition that separated the concessions area from the seating area. The divider pretty much made that area useless because you couldn’t see the entire field and I never felt like security really wanted you lingering there anyway. Extra drink rails will only encourage fans to make this a prime hangout spot at the game, and you know what, that’s not that bad of an idea.

Bullpen Landings

Easily the most drastic change happening to the stadium in the offseason, the bullpen landings are doing away with partial view seats in sections 239 and 201 on the left and right sides of that ugly restaurant you have never been to. Each landing will overlook the bullpens, creating a lounge/bar area and creating the same hangout vibe of the batter’s eye deck. This could actually be a pretty cool area to be around, depending on what they actually offer. If I can sit around the railing and drink good beer like I’m at a bar, I’m all for it.

AT&T Sports Lounge

Another sports bar inside a baseball stadium! This new feature will allow you to hang out in a bar that serves overpriced drinks, while watching the baseball game that you are currently attending on TV so you can avoid having to actually be at a baseball stadium. Sorry, this is really dumb. I can’t support bars inside of sports venues. Regardless of how useless these things feel, at least they are trying? The lounge will be located at section 134 in left field on the outdoor concourse.

Budweiser Party Decks

This party deck is less of a party deck and more of a bar-seating area inside of a cave. It’s set under the grandstand, so I’m not sure how much partying is going to be going on during the summer when no one will be seeing any sunlight. These areas will be on the 300 level in sections 311 and 328, providing both sides of the park with a deck of their own. Again, I like the idea, but these should be closer to the field of play and actually exposed to the elements. No way are these party decks competing with the one at Citi Field.

You might being saying this is all just an excuse to add some more branded sections to the ballpark, and you would be right. The Yankees, of course, are a business, and they will take any opportunity to add an extra brand to their exuberant list of corporate sponsors. However, they might actually be doing a little bit of good while trying to make an easy buck. If they can get some company to pay for the alterations that will actually make Yankee Stadium palatable, I say bring it on.

The press release also mentioned that they will be introducing 200,000 additional tickets priced at $15 or less, which sounds great, but must be considered within the proper context. These enhancements will remove almost 2,100 seats from the stadium, including 1,100 obstructed-view seats.

Remember that the last time they lowered the price of seats, they made a huge deal about it. To add this many tickets at such a price means they are likely increasing the amount of standing room only tickets that are available for each game. The new areas being introduced are open to all fans, so they must be assuming people will be able to find a place to sit or stand in their new drinking areas. I just hope they haven’t ignored those fans who will have seats but will instead choose to explore the new areas. Those areas could get packed.

The Yankees are clearly trying here, at least somewhat. Unfortunately, the stadium is still going to have the same problems it has had since opening. Even with these new additions, it is still a boring, stale, overpriced, and low-quality ballpark experience. Instead of introducing these new sections, they could try improving the quality of food and selection of beer available at the stadium. Emphasis on the latter.

I also hope they expand on this kid-friendly section of the stadium to put together something that is tailored for those that are too old for the playground and too young for the bars. Generation Z, those kids who fall between the ages of 11 to 19, are due to become an even more powerful purchasing group than Millennials are right now. If the Yankees want to look toward the future, adding things like pitching games, batting cages, and other attractions teenagers will find interesting, could help them make more lifelong fans early on.

I’m not sure how much I will benefit from these changes, but I’m at least glad to see them try something. It does feel a little too brand-y, but I’ll take that over stagnation. The Yankees are a younger team now, and we’ve seen signs that they are starting to reposition their image to attract a younger, more diverse audience. These enhancements are just the next step in the evolution of the Yankees brand. I just hope that the next next step is a little more effective.