Champions of Baseball, but Not of The Bronx
By winning the World Series in the their $1.5 billion home's inaugural season, the Yankees have fulfilled an obligation to their fan base. Now it’s time for the Yankees to show that they are obliged to the Bronx as well.
Yankees fans know that their deal with baseball’s most expensive team provides rewards. We pay outrageous prices for tickets, and put up with the ire of the rest of the baseball-watching world, and in exchange we get to root for a team that is almost always a contender. But for Bronx residents, the partnership has not been so mutually rewarding.
When the Yankees and New York City first pushed through their stadium deal, the promises were grand.
“Sure, we’re going to put the new Stadium on top of Macombs Dam Park, but that will only cost Concourse residents one or two years,” they said. “And oh boy, when the new Yankee Stadium opens, everyone’s going to love the new parks that are opening with it.”
But when the new Yankee Stadium opened, the old Yankee Stadium was still standing on the spot where the new park was supposed to be. All sorts of reasons were given for why the structural demolition had to be stalled until November — but one thing was for certain, it wasn’t because the City and the Yankees were concerned about network TV crews getting distracted during games and showing the half-demolished corpse of baseball’s most historic structure. No, that wasn’t it. Demolitions often get stalled for the length of a baseball season. No biggie.
While it’s too late to make up for mistakes of the past, the Yankees can still show the South Bronx that they are cognizant of their community. It’s a two-step process…
1) Push for speedy park development
In late October, the Parks Department failed to win preliminary approval from the New York City Design Commission for its design of Memorial Park, which is to be placed on the grounds of the old Stadium.
Memorial Park is already two years behind schedule, and there’s no telling if this setback will cost the Park more time. However, if the Yankees get involved in this process, the plan will adhere to its schedule.
The organization has already proved that it wields enough political muscle to push through far more complicated items than park design, and frankly, it’s in the Yankees best interest to see Memorial Park completed as soon as possible. Every time Fox Sports shows an aerial view of the new Stadium, the sordid remains of its predecessor next door are laid out in plain sight for viewers nationwide. It’s embarrassing for everyone involved.
2) Join the community
The Yankees can at least pretend that they want to be a part of the local community, by finally joining the 161st Street Business Improvement District. Yankees brass have long complained about the state of the South Bronx, yet when they were invited to help join the community in advancing itself, the Yankees gave the cold shoulder.
As the largest business in the District, the Yankees once again, can only gain from encouraging the BID. With an improved reputation for the area, Yankee Stadium would be the tourist destination that the Yankees have always wanted it to be.
It was a great season for the Yankees, as a team, and for Yankee fans. However, it has not been a great season for the Yankees as an organization in the community — and unfortunately, it is unlikely that the Yankees will make the right off-season moves to amend that. While the Yankees have done their fans proud, it would be surprising if they took either of these two steps to show the Bronx the grace it is due.