As the New York Yankees are two weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Tampa, Florida, the house that Steinbrenner built has been put into good use. First, there was the Pinstripe Bowl in late December between Notre Dame and Rutgers. This week, Yankee Stadium went from an infield with dirt and grass to an infield frozen on ice.
This week, the NHL’s Stadium Series saw two regular season games being played at Yankee Stadium featuring the three local teams: the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and New Jersey Devils. The series was a continuation of the NHL’s Winter Classic, an outdoor hockey game held every New Year’s Day.
Despite the freezing temperatures that have hit New York City, sell-out crowds were on hand for the two games that were played Sunday afternoon and Wednesday night. Even novice hockey fans, like myself, had to tune in to see one of the sport’s great ballparks transformed into a hockey rink that had suitable ice for playing in (unless you ask Devils’ goalie Martin Brodeur).
In terms of a business perspective, the stadium was packed for both of these games. In TV Ratings, Sunday’s Rangers-Devlis telecast on NBC was the highest rated regular season hockey game in history. The appeal of having a Subway Series that we had on Wednesday night brought intrigue to this series.
So, ask yourself this: If you could play a baseball game anywhere other than the 30 stadiums, where would you play it? Would you go back in time and play a modern game in the Polo Grounds? Would you play it somewhere where nobody would think of playing a baseball game?
For example, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks will start the season in late March at a cricket stadium in Sydney, Australia. Imagine Derek Jeter and the Yankees playing a baseball game in the Los Angeles Coliseum against the Dodgers? That would be interesting.
True, MLB doesn’t need what some deem the Stadium Series as: a novelty act. However, the interest has sparked even casual fans to tune in and watch the game to see the transformation of one of sports’ great stadiums into a winter wonderland.