Enough to Fill Yankee Stadium…
Posted by danspira
Last week a friend took me out to see a baseball game at Yankee stadium, a first for me. The New York Yankees were playing the Toronto Blue Jays, so based on my history of metro-area residency, it meant I had the pleasure of watching two of my hometown arch-rivals play against each other. The Yankees beat the Jays handily, which is just as well, given where I’m at these days (Bronx, baby).
This was also an opportunity to be a part of the Yankee Stadium Experience — which will be a thing of the past starting next season, when the new Yankee Stadium opens right across the street. The new stadium will have roughly the same number of regular seats (slightly fewer, in fact), albeit arranged out in a less steep slope, and with more money-making luxury boxes and retail space. This is the same thing that happened when they replaced the old Montreal Canadiens’ Forum with the new Molson/Bell Centre: The original stadium was (still is, in the case of Yankee Stadium) a not-so-comfortable-but-thrilling vertiginous experience that almost literally put you right on top of the players and made you feel a part of the game… an experience that was augmented by the sale of alcohol (to enhance the vertigo) and a boisterous fan base. The new stadium still has the boisterous fans (albeit with more V.I.P.s lurking in their lux boxes) but now these fans will be more like mere spectators rather than true game participants (if you can’t fling a beer cup onto the ice from the upper stands, you’re too far away) in a design that takes up more site acreage and complies with ever-more-stringent building codes (we’re all gonna get crushed in the crowd stampede anyway).
But the real question I have is more meme than architecture: We’ve heard the expression “enough to fill Yankee Stadium” any number of times, used as a form of evidence/illustration to make a point. What, exactly, does that mean? And will that meaning change with the New Yankee Stadium, both in terms of volumetric quantity as well as spatial quality (less cup/bowl-like space)? The answer to the second question is “probably not,” since as far as I can tell, many people who use the Yankee Stadium Analogy to illustrate anything other than multiples of 50,000 people (the approximate seating capacity) have no idea of how big the stadium actually is or what it would take to fill it. Really, it’s all about the iconic stature of the building more than anything else — and that iconic status is being carefully transferred to the new stadium, both though the careful restoration/replication of certain original Yankee Stadium design elements (facades, friezes, monuments, etc.) as well as some valiant attempts to establish a supernatural/mythical aura (surreptitious burial of Red Sox paraphernalia, possible entombment of mobsters anyone??).
As for this “enough to fill Yankee Stadium” meme, a quick survey of Google search results on the exact phrase shows that about 50% of its distribution occurs in relation to environmental subjects. For example, supposedly, each year the amount of worldwide fishery by-catch (that’s the stuff that gets caught in nets and is thrown out) could fill Yankee Stadium 30 times. That’s an evocative, if malodorous, image. Another one: The amount of ground material excavated from the Alberta Tar Sands (which has a total area that is often compared to the State of Florida) every 2 days could fill Yankee Stadium once. Not as smelly, but still pretty dramatic. Though if we take these statements at face value, we’re forced to consider that the amount of annual worldwide by-catch could, theoretically, be used to fill in the space dug out of the Tar Sands every two months. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Hmm, I wonder how many times one could fill the new Yankee Stadium with the debris of the soon-to-be-demolished old Yankee Stadium? If one were to take the total cost of the new Yankee Stadium in Sacagawea dollars, stacking them against each other, how many times would it wrap around the stadium? Oh the fun, it never ends…