Critiquing New Stadiums

And we in the NYC Metro area have been doing a lot of new stadium critiquin’.  The Yankees (Yankee Stadium), Mets (CiTi Field), Devils (“The Rock”/Prudential Center) and Red Bulls (Red Bulls Field) have all opened new parks in the last four years, because this area simply isn’t spoiled enough when it comes to…well…all things.  With that in mind, I went to the new Meadowlands Stadium, home of bffs the Jets and the Giants, over the weekend and have a full report!  By full report, of course, I mean what I remember before the wash of alcohol took me over – it was a preseason game, after all.

Transportation
A friend of mine attended the USMNT/Brazil soccer friendly and had nothing but horror stories about the parking situation, with people parking and making it inside by, oh, halftime. Yeesh. Even though I had a parking pass (which grants the privilege of spending $25 to park near the stadium as opposed to shuttling for 5 dollars less), my friend Steve and I decided to take the train in.  That could have been just as much as a clusterfuck, but at least we could both be buzzed.

Shockingly, it was incredibly easy. We took our normal “going to work in the city” train down to Secaucus Junction, then immediately crossed the track right onto the “light rail” train that dropped us off directly in front of the stadium’s Pepsi Gate. The in-between train even has a bathroom, which is sure to be the piss-iest place in New Jersey on game day.  Round trips only set us back about $18, which is roughly 2/3rds for parking.  Maybe you can use that other $8 bucks to buy a map for the stadium.

There's Nothing They Won't Whore

Stadium Set-Up
The best way to sum it up is “the same, but more.” Lots, lots more. It feels a lot like the new Yankee Stadium; less of a new building and more of a revamp. There are more beer stands, more food choices and (more locations for said food choices), more bathrooms, more walking room, more open air, and a veritable shit ton of luxury boxes. So many, in fact, that they clog up the stadium to the point where you can’t walk around inside the damn thing past your gate.  At all.  No exceptions.

I know, it sounds baffling.  Let me explain it to you.  If you enter at your gate, which conveniently isn’t a number or letter but a fun corporate sponsor!!, you cannot leave said gate without first exiting the confines of the stadium.  So if you’re sitting in the upper decks in the Verizon Gate Section and you have a friend in the upper decks across the stadium at the MetLife area, you get to walk down an obscene amount of ramps (reminiscent of the old Yankee Stadium) until you get to the ground floor, then you get to walk outside around the entirety of the structure, just to enter his or her gate.  Then you get to take some elevators–that may or may not be right next to each other–to climb up to the 300 level on the other side.  I guess that’s why it’s referred to as The Ring.

Now you might be asking yourself, “hey, why is this incredibly inane and cumbersome stadium set-up happening?  Who ever decided this would be a good idea for all the fans?”  Well this new stadium isn’t about you, the fan.  It’s for you, the hopefully mega-rich corporate client who has enough disposable cash to get a luxury box.  And man do they have choices for you!  Down by the field!  Behind the coaches!  Up in the 200s with seats on the outside!  Seats on the inside and glass surrounding you like you’re watching it at home in front of a fucking TV!  So many different and fun boxes that they cram up the stadium and don’t let you walk around the thing without setting up an expedition first!

Oh, that’s right, my section.  Seats are nice, cup holders galore that don’t stop someone walking by and knocking your drink over, and a decent amount of space.  So they’ve got that going for them.  With all this “drink” talk, let’s get on to the real important stuff.

The Bathrooms
Plentiful. There are bathrooms every where you turn and they are wonderfully clean. One child walked in and commented that they “smelled like strawberries,” and he was right. Sadly he’ll never have that sensation again.

The urinals are non-flush and as you can see are…interesting. They have an odd design that is somewhere between the “you’re totally showing your dick off to everyone” variety and the “step in as far as you can and let this porcelain hide your indignity” versions. As a “stage fright” sufferer, I would always prefer something to break up the urinals, but alas, no dividers to be had.  I went ahead and did the heavy lifting for everyone and yes, the entire open area does not retain liquid and spills it right down the drain.  And yes, I was alone while certifying this fact.

There are stalls are in every bathroom (I’d say it’s 3:1 urinals to stalls) which feature toilet covers and a manual flush, which no one will touch. For whatever reason, the sinks have funhouse mirrors (possibly because they’re clumsily screwed in at the mid-bottom and mid-top of the glass) but that might be to get you to get that next beer without it seemingly hurting your figure. While there are waste holes built in to the sink units, the paper towel dispensors are waaay on the other sides of the bathroom, near the entrance and exit doors with their own trashcans.  So vomit holes they are.  And speaking of vomit….

Beer!
Something I needed dearly as Rhett Bomar got three quarters of action. There is beer-a-plenty and a good variety as well. Becks, Heineken, Blue Moon (pictured) and a few of its better-quality bretheren share tap space with the usual giant domestic water-disguised-as-piss-disguised-further-as-beer. The most interesting taps are the Brooklyn Lagers, which are everywhere. It seems like they’re treating the local “big” micro in a similar way that Fenway and Gillette feature Sam Adams, and that’s a-ok with me. Beers are roughly 9 dollars (8.50 for domestic draft, 9.50 for premium) and come in 16 oz cups if my eyeballing is correct, which are crappier deals than Yankee Stadium’s $11 Heinies at 20 oz and the Keg Can In A Glass for $11.50 at The Rock.

And then there’s heresy:  Beer sales are cut off at halftime. HALFTIME!!! This is what you get when you have to share a nice, new thing with a bunch of heathen known as Jets fans. They just ruin everything.

Seriously, half time.  I would not kid about something like this.

Food
Steve got Chili Fries and some sorta chicken sandwich for like $16 bucks total. I got a “grinder” burger for $8 bucks. They both look (and taste exactly) like this:

Seriously, they cut off beer at Halftime. Injustices like this would get sit-ins during the ’60s, y’know.

Other Comments/Gripes
– The LCD ring around the stadium that also acts as the score board needs to be streamlined. It took me a good thirty seconds to recognize what the score was as the actual points are at either end of the board, while the middle is just CRAMMED with numbers. Quarter, time left, what down/how many yards to go, how many time outs, challenges, etc. etc. etc with the scores on the outside.  It’s just…a lot.

– There is a 40 yard turf field along the outside walkway of the stadium for NFL’s Play60 campaign, which is the closest thing to actual vegetation as far as the eye can see.  Thankfully this place is also full with falling children, which are hilarious to watch, especially as you don’t have to clean up the blood.

– Like at New Yankees, there are a ton of people around harassing you to ask them questions for your benefit, cause god knows you’d rather wander around aimlessly than admit that you don’t know what you’re doing.  This is half as good as building a stadium that wasn’t built like a fucking enigma.

– There is a Captain Morgans’ inflatable house with mildly attractive women parading around inside. I have no idea what this has to do with anything.  I definitely wish they were hotter.

– There is no need to sell the name for the stadium as there is corporate whoring EVERYWHERE.  Your gate “Sponsor” is also on top of the giant video boards, on the outside scrolling video boards, on your tickets, and inside the concourses.  The void filled by having paraphernalia from one team was quickly filled by corporate logos.  I can’t believe the bathrooms weren’t sponsored by Roto-Rooter.

Overall
The place has barely any character at all: just a lot of concrete and grays and blacks.  They put the fans further back and away from the field so you can’t really hear them and they can’t really see anything.  Prices are too much and quality is too poor from food to parking and drinks.  So all in all, just another new stadium going up where we the common folk lose out while some bells and whistles are added for the rich.  Whoopee.

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