The veteran artist Charles Spurrier and I journeyed to the new Yankee Stadium for the first time last week to watch the Yankees play the Angels. As a boy, Charles used to make drawings of fans at Cleveland's old Municipal Stadium in exchange for hot dogs and I attended many a classic tilt at the old Yankee Stadium, every year for exactly 50 years.
The theme of the new stadium could well be "It is not about the game," so many are the detours and distractions, done in the style of Las Vegas, where the layout of the casinos is deliberately disorienting, so that you will quit trying to get back to your room and just sit down and gamble. During a late inning Yankee rally the other night, for example, 200 people waited on line to enter the Yankee Museum on the second deck, which is next to a museum of work by the team's "official artist," Peter Max!
The Stadium is laid out like an open air mall. Because ushers check you tickets, the time-honored practice of moving down to unoccupied seats, known as "flopping," is prohibited, and little kids can no longer congregate in seats near the field during batting practice to catch foul balls or collect autographs (unless, of course, their parents shelled out thousands of dollars for these choice seats).
Hence, the proletariat, bedecked in Yankee gear whose prices have been jacked up to $175 for a sweatshirt in the new Bomber Boutiques, is encouraged to sort of watch the game as they wander from bar to beer hall to nachos booth to the new fresh fruit wagons, stuffing their faces. In a way, the game follows you: the 75-foot Jumbotron in Center Field turns Derek Jeter into William Shatner's Big Giant Head from the sitcom Third Rock From the Sun. Above our seats near the left field foul pole, Spurrier and I could follow the game on two flatscreen TVs, thus weirdly fulfilling the wish of a fan watching live play to "see that again at home on instant replay."
Stacked colorful billboards and thin streaming ads around the scoreboards remind one of Ashley Bickerton's famous "brand" art pieces of the early 1990s, while the black glass of the Mohegan Sun restaurant in centerfield would fill Ad Reinhardt with dark envy. You won't get bored at the New Yankee Stadium, where even the radio broadcast is piped in above each urinal. You might wonder what those little men are doing on the field, however. Oh yeah, the Yankees won 7-4.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).