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New York is having a rough month. Not only is it bearing the brunt of the financial meltdown in terms of lost jobs and wealth, but neither of its two beloved baseball teams can join the “boys of October” for the first time in 15 years, missing out on postseason play. The crisis is coming at the worst possible time as both will open expensive new stadiums that counted on Wall Street’s continued vitality.
It is little surprise that America’s biggest, brashest city is home to two of its richest baseball teams. Both, though, had lagged their peers in building the new venues that have helped quadruple the sport’s revenue since the early 1990s. Modern stadiums have facilities for corporate entertainment and have induced regular fans to splash out on high-end dining and shopping.
The Yankees are tearing down their iconic 1923 home and will move into a new $1.3bn palace across the street. By far the most expensive baseball stadium ever, it will have 56 luxury suites and 14 restaurants, including a fancy steakhouse and martini bar, plus far more shops and restaurants. The only thing is will have less of is seats – about 4,500 fewer at 52,325 – and it will charge far more for them with the best going for $2,500. The more blue-collar Mets are spending about 40 per cent less on their new home and have defrayed some costs through selling naming-rights to Citigroup. Citi Field’s priciest seats will be a relative bargain at $495, nearly twice the old rate.
The Yankees concede that some suites remain unsold while the Mets’ more modest ones are all leased. But both will have trouble milking fans for what is still the same product – a baseball game. Given their teams’ struggles and the woes of finance’s highfliers, even those who still have jobs may just make their own steak and martini and watch the games on TV.
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