It's back to the future for Yanks
Bombers' new digs will look like scene from Ruth's heyday
By T.J. QUINN
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
From the outside, it'll be 1923 again. Limestone walls rising like a fortress, standing sentinel in refurbished parkland. It's the view Babe Ruth had when he went to work in the house they built for him.
On the inside, a mix of modernity and antiquity has officials from City Hall, Albany and the Bronx gushing: the old frieze hanging from the roof like copper lace, bullpens back in the outfield where they used to be, but with open concourses (with six times the space for concession sales) and sight lines to the field from almost anywhere in the park.
This is the new Yankee Stadium, almost ready for prime time, all but signed, sealed and to be delivered by Opening Day 2009. Lawyers for the city, state and the team are completing a "memorandum of understanding," sources told the Daily News, and an announcement is expected around May 1. As of now, the new stadium is designed to seat 50,800, less than the current capacity of 57,478, but with 50 to 60 luxury suites. It will be located just north of the existing stadium, between 161st and 164th Sts. and between Jerome and River Aves.
The stadium itself, funded entirely by the team, will run about $800 million, while the total project will cost about $1.1 billion with the city and the state providing the extra $300 million for a new Metro-North station, parkland along the now decrepit waterfront and better parking facilities around the stadium. Yankee President Randy Levine and city and state officials would not comment directly about the plans or the pending agreement, but confirmed they are in the final stages. "We're working very closely with the city and the state and trying to finalize our current plan," Levine said. "We expect to announce it in the near future, and we hope to break ground in 2006 and be ready to play in 2009."
Officials familiar with the plans gave The News an exclusive preview of the designs for the new park, which includes all the amenities of a state of the art shopping mall: The stadium will be comprised of two separate structures: one, the exterior wall, constructed to replicate the original Yankee Stadium, built in 1923, and the other the interior stadium itself, rising over the top of the exterior. From the outside the structures will look like one building, almost identical in materials and design to the original stadium. There will be a "great hall" between the exterior wall and the interior structure, featuring five to six times more retail square footage than the current stadium.
The signature frieze, the lattice work that once rimmed the original stadium roof and was recreated in the outfield of the current stadium, will be added to the new stadium's roof. The frieze (commonly but incorrectly known as "the facade") was painted white during the 1960s, as it now appears above the outfield. But the new stadium will return to the original copper. The city will provide $50 million worth of infrastructure for the new stadium. But the city and state, depending on the agreement, will build and control all 11,000 parking spaces in the area, a cash cow for taxpayers that one consultant told the Yankees was "too generous," a source said.
Perhaps best of all for the parties involved, there is no significant opposition to the project. "We expect this project to be one that is supported by all," Levine said.