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Stadium Series: Being There

stadium-transformation

Yankee Stadium

Last Sunday, instead of posting about happenings around the NHL, I was out on the field doing first hand work for a post. I shuffled up on the 4 train to Yankee Stadium not to watch the boys in pinstripes bat around and eat some delicious garlic fries, but instead, in the dead of winter, to watch some good old-fashioned pond hockey. Pond hockey on a baseball field, in front of 50,000 people. Big pond, eh?

The experience, from beginning to end, was absolutely incredible. Having not been lucky enough to experience the Winter Classic in 2012 in Philadelphia, I had no idea what to expect going in. Days of stalking the weather report didn’t do much justice – 5 degrees here or there means nothing when you’re debating 3 or 4 layers of leggings – especially when you’ve got to factor in adrenaline based on the amount of Henrique jerseys in the vicinity. Needless to say, the morning was filled with nervous excitement.

I guess any seasoned veteran or kid who played outdoor hockey in colder weather would know how to dress, but the first thing I noticed upon arrival was the extreme opposite ends of the wardrobe spectrum. From people in fur coats to people in just a jersey over a hoodie with no hats/gloves/feeling in any of their extremities, you had it all. An obnoxious amount of red surrounded me and we had to seek solace in the Jim Beam Suite, where delightful hot chocolate and heat would be served.

The Bronx did us a favor by opening nearby bars at 9am, allowing people to have a good liquor base of warmth before entering the 22°, wind whipping field. After a delay of game due to “sun glare” (though I mean, who could blame the NHL for that? Not like the sun’s been coming up consistently for thousands of years..) we took our seats and watched the main event. NHL on NBC Sports, take notes, Rangers v. Devils is a rivalry.

Though the beginning of the game was pretty iffy, with slow ice and a terrible play by Hank leaving the net cause he wanted to give Rangers fans a collective heartattack, when you took a second to look around at the crowd, it was so incredible. If you’ve been even a semi-aware NHL fan with a scope outside of New York lately, you know about the Tortorella meltdown of a week and a half ago. You probably also know that Peter Gammons, legendary baseball columnist and ESPN’s messiah, commented that the Torts incident is a prime example of why “the NHL is a minor sport.” Sure didn’t feel minor when you’d look around to see over 50,000 frozen faces passionately cheering on their respective side of the Hudson. Hard to defend against a league that makes a ton more in revenue each season, but it isn’t hard to see the passion on the faces of fans not noticing the elements outside.

Aside from the awesome and random second period snowfall, the beautiful skies during the third and, oh, the absolute smashing of MARTY and a beauty of a penalty shot by Stepan, it was a pretty typical game. You had your drunk cranky Rangers fans (one in particular kept asking AV to “put the kid in” cause Henrik is “too busy fixing his hair”), your drunk Devils fans (fights fights fights), and your gritty and gorgeous physical play that makes rivalries – real rivalries – so special. The atmosphere of being outdoors to watch a game makes it seem like so much more than a regular season game… almost like a baseball playoff game. More laid back than you’d expect from hockey, yes. But also more intense than a regular game at the Garden or Rock.

If you have a chance to get a ticket for the game tonight, do it. You won’t regret it. Grab some compression gear, grab every pair of long johns and flannels and thermal tees you can find. Get those hoodies and jerseys and leggings and ski pants on and don’t forget your scarves. Getting out there tonight is worth it cause you’ll feel your toes after an hour or so of being home, but you won’t forget the memories you have of it for years. I know I won’t.

18 Responses to “Stadium Series: Being There”

  1. Sally says:

    Becky, a lovely piece of writing. Thank you.

  2. SalMerc says:

    I was there, albeit up in section 426. Nice view. The game just felt special, almost mesmerizing. The temperature was frigid, the hot chocolate was $12 but the experience was one I shall not soon forget. My highlight was talking to a Devil fan, telling him that Marty will be pulled for the 3rd. They said no-way. So much for that.

    • JoeS. says:

      hot chocolate $11, but that, was for the commemorative stadium series travel mug. Could be had for $4 in paper cup. Not bad for sport stadium in NY

      • SalMerc says:

        Oh really. I couldn’t stand up and the only Hot Chocolate that was brought up into the stands was the one in the Stadium Cup. I included the $1 tip.

        • JoeS. says:

          yea you had to go to the concessions. But your right all the hot chocolate in the seats were in the Stadium cups. I bought two but refilled them at the concessions.

  3. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Agree with SalMerc that views up from the 400s aren’t bad at all. I was situated in section 422 and would argue that the vantage point trumped a good number of the 200 sections. 300 level is ideal as you are still part of the upper bowl, but out of the corridor you’d walk down the raised ranch stairs as opposed to walking up, so it puts you a little closer to the action.

    A buddy on my men’s league team said he was able to nab 2 tickets to tonight’s game for 130 a piece… which is much lower than face value since apparently the game isn’t selling out.

    In closing, I agree with Becky, go if you can.

  4. Bryan says:

    Really love the subjectivity in this one Becky. Felt real. Two thumbs up.

  5. Dave says:

    Brilliant.

  6. Paul says:

    Very emotive Becky! You certainly make a convincing argument for any hockey fan seeking a different experience!

  7. cnp says:

    Sad cause I wasn’t there…but smiling reading this! Well done!

    • JoeS. says:

      Great Job Becky! I was there as well and your post truly epitomizes what it was like. It was also my first outdoor game, and if dressed appropriately, it is not an experience anyone will forget or regret! One thing you forgot to mention was the sounds of silence that echoed the Stadium from The “sea” of red after the Rangers clinic in the 2nd period. A sound like no other and extremely comforting.

  8. JoeS. says:

    Sorry that was not a reply to cnp, but rather to Becky’s post.

  9. Tim B says:

    Wish the Rangers were the home team. Zucc is gonna tear it up tonight. BSB crew, do you know if Rangers scouts are currently scouting Winnipeg? After yesterday’s post, it would be a good idea to scout Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian among others. They have talent and Kane & Bogosian would be nice replacements for Cally and Girardi if the team decides to go down that road. I wouldn’t mind having a framework of a Kane & Bogosian for Girardi & Cally trade.

  10. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Very well written. Thank you

  11. Joe says:

    I was in 421 with my 18 year son. The view was great. Been to giant playoff games, ranger playoff games, he said this was the best game he has ever been to. I would agree that the atmosphere was just amazing and the fans for the most part were festive and having fun bantering.

    while it was just a regular season game against a rival, it felt like a mid-season championship game…not sure how else to describe it…

  12. Brendan says:

    I was pretty excited for the party at my apartment tonight, with custom printed Stadium Series banners and signs (on the company dime)… but then I read this and wish I was going to the game instead!

  13. Galen H says:

    Great write up. Got to go with my dad. Rangers fans of 30 plus years.