inside Yankee Stadium
When I visited the New York Yankees stadium last year I couldn’t help but notice a similarity. Here was a team playing the peoples game, a team with a great history based in the USA equivalent of London; New York (it’s not Washington; all they share is capital city status). They had moved to a new stadium, a stones throw from the old one in which they had many great moments and I was about to see what the new Yankees Stadium looked like.
We parked in the excellent parking facilities adjacent to the ground. Of course this was not downtown but it was still the city so to be able to do this was absolutely convenient.
Around the ground Yankee shirts were everywhere; the iconic pinstripe unchanged for decades. Baseball caps, still the same as they always have been proliferated; available in numerous sizes to fit the smallest or largest of craniums.
The entrance to the stadium. No enclosed turnstiles. Entrance by showing your ticket and walking in like a human being not a piece of cattle.
There in the concourses celebrations of the history of the Yankees proudly displayed. I wasn’t very hungry but there was Sushi, Pizza, McDonalds, Mexican, you name it. Hot dogs of course, but choices of different types. No generic food outlets but genuine choice. At reasonable prices. A Beer? Of course. Again choices; German Lager, American Micro Brewery Beer, Heineken, Michelob, Dos Equiss The ubiquitous Budweiser but Budvar also. Beer bought to your seat no less. All you needed was ID, regardless of age, just show your ID hand over a couple of Bucks and you can have a Beer.Running short of cash? Why not go to one of the cashpoints?
The Yankees were playing (and beat) The Toronto Blue Jays that day and prior to the game the National Anthems of the USA and Canada were observed impeccably and as the game began I got the feeling that this was what it was like to be treated with respect. This was what it was like to be given choices. This was what it was like to feel valued as a supporter.
The players at bat and in the outfield are all rich yet there is not the feeling of resentment or disparity among the Yankee faithful.
Their tickets are reasonably priced, they are not ripped off at the ground and the Club retains its identity. It’s not manipulated into kit changes or ordered by EUFA to trade its fans like children. Sure American sports teams excel at Merchandising but the actual match day experience doesn't leave you feeling ripped off and patronised.
Before anyone points out the obvious, that comparisons between an American Baseball Club and an English Football Club are hard to make I am not making a direct comparison, I’m looking at the basics; Ticket prices, match day ethos, attitude towards the fans and attitude about how the club retains identity.
When I left at the end of an entertaining game and great experience I reflected that the Arsenal could learn a lot from the Yankees and the Premier League could learn a lot from the MLB about how it treats its life blood: The supporters.