Yankee Stadium on $5,000 a Game

I know. I know. It’s generational. I grew up with baseball (circa ’50s and ’60s) when that sport was still the national pastime. And many a weekend afternoon or night I took an hour-long street car ride from my home on Pittsburgh’s North Side to watch the Pirates play in Forbes Field (now defunct), near the University of Pittsburgh.

I was thinking about that this morning while running. I could spend the entire day and come home with a considerable amount of change from a five-dollar bill. (If I even had that much to begin with. I digress.) Seats in the left-field bleachers, a curve-ball toss from third base, cost $1 — and on many days the attendant just waved you in.

And I know. Different era. Prices for everything escalate over time with inflation. A-Rod is worth more than the gross national product of Mexico. (OK, maybe not quite. But you get it.) Yada yada yada.

Still, I’m not sure that I could enjoy myself at the new $1.5 billion Yankee Stadium — where some ticket prices started the season north of $2,500 each — per game. And apparently there aren’t even enough asshats left on Wall Street to support that right now. The Yankees — hoping to end the embarrassing spectacle of few sitting in the “best” seats — are cutting the prices by as much as 50 percent, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal. (Same problem at the Mets’ Bailout Park, oops, Citi Field, but not sure if the tickets have been slashed as yet.)

Anyway, here’s from the WSJ story:

Acknowledging their prices were too steep even by Yankees standards, the 26-time world champions announced a plan to fill thousands of empty high-priced seats by reducing prices and giving away much of the unsold inventory.

The plan, announced by Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner Tuesday afternoon, rewards the seats to season-ticket holders who have purchased premium tickets in similar sections and hopefully ends an embarrassing first month of the season for the New York team and its new $1.5 billion ballpark. The stadium was designed before last fall’s collapse of the U.S. economy at a time when New York’s business community was still willing to spend a premium for the best sports and entertainment the region had to offer.

Folks, the fact that the Yankees could even consider charging that much for a baseball ticket — and some apparently thought nothing about buying one or more likely a handful of them — says a lot about the values and compensation of many individuals and organizations in New York pre- (and most likely even post-) economic meltdown.

Maybe as a nation we would be better off keeping those seats empty — as a reminder that we ain’t out of the recession woods yet. We’re still losing as many as 600,000 jobs a month — even as the recession that George Bush didn’t know about enters its 16th month. (Bob Herbert, NYT, “Workers Walk the Plank.” ) And with big firms like Government Motors and Chrysler still heading to the plate to knock more jobs out of the park.

And if the best seats do fill up at Yankee Stadium and Bailout Park anytime soon, this may be why.

Citigroup, ward of Mr. and Ms. U.S. Taxpayer, is lobbying the Treasury Department for permission to pay out special bonuses to employees.

Play ball!

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