Yankee Stadium: Baseball Gameday GuideThere may not be an intersection in America more clogged with baseball history than the Bronx's East 161st Street and River Avenue. If you didn't know that already, Yankee Stadium and the team's fans will make sure you're well aware by the time you've left the neighborhood.
Many fans can quickly rattle off a list of big games they've attended, from no-hitters and perfect games to World Series wins. While the old stadium—which was located across the street from the current one before being demolished in 2010—housed about 56,000 seats, it seems like 10 times that many people claim to have attended Reggie Jackson's legendary three home run World Series performance in 1977.
Before and after games, the blocks around Yankee Stadium become a tangled mess of fans darting to and from the many subway entrances and parking garages that surround the ballpark. Among the crowds, expect a decent number of meandering domestic and international tourists, often more interested in exploring the legendary home of the Bronx Bombers than hustling to their seats to watch the game.
Before heading into the stadium, diehard fans tend to grab food and drinks in the neighborhood surrounding Yankee Stadium, known as Concourse. It's a fairly typical Bronx community, with apartment buildings to the west and a bustling strip of delis, restaurants and bars to the east. The stadium is also sandwiched by Mullaly Park and Macombs Dam Park, which includes Heritage Field, a public ballpark on the site of the old stadium.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE A YANKEES GAME
Yankee Stadium is one of the most expensive places to eat or drink in sports, so wise fans know to either eat first or get takeout to bring into the game.
WHERE TO GET A BEER
Stan's Sports Bar | This quintessential Yankee fan hangout has become a bit of a tourist attraction, but it only takes one glance at the Boston Red Sox teddy bear hanging from a noose to know this joint hasn't lost its edge. Dense crowds of fans clutch basic, mass-market beers while jockeying for space at this bar until well after games begin.
WHERE TO GO WITH A GROUP
Yankee Bar & Grill | Nicknamed the "Underground Bar" for its basement location, the crowds at this watering hole are thinner than at some of the busier—above-ground—spots, which helps it maintain its "underground" reputation. Inside the divey, industrial space painted Yankee blue, fans tend to opt for 24-ounce "tall boy" cans of Coors Light and other well-known beers.
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD SPOT
The Court Deli | Half a century ago, the Bronx was filled with Jewish delicatessens serving heaping portions of brined meat on rye bread. Today, a good pastrami or brisket sandwich is hard to find, but the traditional stuff is still served at this spot (on East 161st Street) two blocks from the stadium. You can sit and eat here, or take your food to go.
WHERE TO GET ROWDY
Yankee Tavern | The pinstriped faithful keep the tables and stools at this craft beer and burger joint packed right up until the first pitch is thrown. A one-block stumble usually gets revelers to their seats by the middle of the first inning.
WHERE TO HAVE A SIT-DOWN MEAL
Crown Diner | A low-key spot for classic American grub. Regulars bypass the sandwiches and other lunch and dinner entrees, and head right to the breakfast section. Have a stack or two of waffles and French toast—lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar and topped with whipped cream—and even if the Yankees lose, you'll go home happy.
WHERE TO NOSH ON CARIBBEAN EATS
Feeding Tree and Flavas International Grill | Few ballparks can claim to be within a couple of blocks of multiple Caribbean eateries. Nestled among the pizzerias and delis that dot the Concourse landscape, these two restaurants—both within two blocks of the stadium—serve up seriously fiery curried goat, oxtail stew and jerk chicken.
CAN YOU TAILGATE AT YANKEE STADIUM?
Yes. The nearby garages and parking lots along River Avenue are not technically associated with the Yankees, and all say tailgating is allowed, but alcohol and open fires (including barbecues) are prohibited. That said, on many game days, more than a few grills can be seen blazing on the roofs of most lots.
Head to Lou Gehrig Plaza (two blocks up the East 161st Street hill) and spend a few minutes enjoying a view of the stadium as elevated subways roll by and thousands of fans stream toward the gates.
Catch a few innings of Bronx high school baseball and other sports, played at the storied site of the old Yankee Stadium, now Macombs Dam, a public park.
INSIDE YANKEE STADIUM
Even though it was built just five years ago, Yankee Stadium is a monument to the team's rich history and New York's robust food culture.
WHERE TO SIT
Most of Yankee Stadium offers clear sightlines of the entire field, but there are certain sections where views can be partially obscured. Avoid 201 and 239, in the bleachers, where the mammoth Mohegan Sun Sports Bar blocks as much as half the field. However, these seats are often as cheap as $6, and the walls that block their views have televisions broadcasting the game.
Yankee Stadium Seating Chart
Parm | Yankee Stadium has long had a dearth of good food vendors, but Parm (Section 104) is easily the highest quality offering ever to call the "house that Jeter built" home. This stadium outpost of this popular Manhattan spot serves up a solid $14 rendition of the restaurant's famous meatball parm sandwich.
BEST LOCAL VENDOR
Brother Jimmy's | This local chain of barbecue joints, known to New York's finance dudes as "Bro J's," doles out Carolina pulled pork, pulled chicken and beef sandwiches, as well as fried pickles, mac 'n' cheese and baked beans with smoked pork (stands in Sections 133, 201, 214 and 320A).
Goose Island Beer Stand | The Yankees have had a lot of issues with their beer labeling during the last couple of years. They got called out for marketing beer produced by the MillerCoors behemoth as "craft," and for a while last year, beer from the Chicago-based Goose Island brewery was featured at a stand hawking "imported" beer for $12 a bottle. This year, the Yankees are taking no chances, and the name of this stand makes it clear what's on offer (located in Section 105).
WHERE TO EAT HEALTHY
Melissa's Farmers Market | Got a hankering for a banana or apple? Head over to this stall in section 121B for some of the freshest and least-expensive fare in Yankee Stadium, where it's two fruits for $3.
BEST STADIUM BAR
Tommy Bahama | The fact that Tommy Bahama (located near the Great Hall escalators, between levels 100 and 200) is the best bar says more about the lack of quality pubs in Yankee Stadium than anything else. Thrifty spenders know that the tall frozen drinks served here offer the best ratio of alcohol per dollar spent.
OTHER THINGS TO SEE WHILE YOU'RE HERE
Just inside the main gate is the Great Hall, a cavernous, light-filled space lined with towering portraits of the Yankees' many timeless stars. Stroll through and you can trace the key figures behind the most successful team in American sports, from Babe Ruth to Joe DiMaggio and Derek Jeter.
Follow the signs in the Great Hall for the Yankees Museum, which features ever-changing exhibits and the "Ball Wall," which includes more than 870 baseballs autographed by Yankee players, coaches, managers, broadcasters and executives.
From there head to Monument Park behind the center field wall, a dramatic tribute to the greatest figures in Yankee history. Three semi-circular red and blue granite walls bear the retired numbers and bronze portraits of 20th century Yankee legends.
Yankee Stadium Tours
YANKEES GAMES ON A BUDGET
Never buy a Yankee cap or shirt on stadium property. Across the street, River Avenue is lined with souvenir shops with generic names like Stadium Souvenirs and Pinstripes Yankee Shop, hawking high-quality Yankee gear for a fraction of stadium prices.
WHERE TO GET A CHEAP BEER BEFORE THE GAME
Head over to Triple Play Grill (Sections 116, 205, 321 and 334) for the cheapest beer inside Yankee Stadium. A 12-ounce serving of Coors Light will set you back just $6.
BEST CHEAP BITES AROUND YANKEE STADIUM
Before games, fans looking for familiar grub or just avoiding the stadium's high prices form long lines inside McDonald's (across the street from the stadium) and Subway (91 East 161st St.).
BEST CHEAP YANKEES TICKETS
Yankee tickets are notoriously expensive, but for weeknight games against non-rivals, secondary sites like StubHub often sell decent seats in the upper deck and bleachers for as little as $10.
YANKEE STADIUM WITH KIDS
The Yankee Stadium area is limited in terms of family-friendly experiences, but that doesn't mean you should leave the kids at home.
WHERE TO GO BEFORE THE GAME WITH KIDS
An absolute must for young first-timers is a stop at the Guest Services Department, just past the entrance to the stadium. Tell them it's your kid's first game, and they'll give the little one a surprisingly artful "First Game Certificate."
BEST FOOD FOR KIDS
Wholly Guacamole lets fans fill their own "Nacho Helmet" with 12-oz. chips and a choice of toppings, inside their own plastic Yankees helmet (Sections 233, 314, and 327).
WHERE TO GET AUTOGRAPHS
It's particularly difficult to get autographs at the new Yankee Stadium. The team's parking lot is within the stadium, which means they can enter and exit without ever interacting with fans. The best bet for signature hounds is to arrive two hours before the game and head to the outfield walls, where players sometimes trot over to give autographs.
NEED A BREAK DURING THE GAME?
Head to an ice cream stand (Sections 113, 201, 319 and 325) and grab a scoop or two, served in a mini-Yankees batting helmet, and explore the open-air grandstand.
WHERE TO BUY GEAR FOR KIDS
If you're already inside the stadium and can't go across the street, the Home Plate Store is your best bet. Located in the Great Hall, behind home plate, the store has an enormous selection of gifts, toys and jerseys.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A YANKEES GAME
Even though there are always extra trains running after a game, the best way to avoid the experience of a sardine in a tin can is to check out one of the neighborhood bars or restaurants while you wait for the crowds to thin.
WHERE TO KEEP THE PARTY GOING
Billy's Sports Bar | This fan favorite recently completed a $4 million renovation, transforming the spot from a hole in the wall to a cavernous, three-floor club with an outdoor patio. The bar is divided into two distinct sections with different entrances and vibes. The River Avenue side has an enormous dance floor, while the 161st Street section feels more like a compact sports bar.
WHERE TO GET A POST-GAME MEAL
Molino Rojo | This casual restaurant stays open until midnight and features an enormous menu of classic Dominican dishes, including pernil, plus a selection of burgers.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO NEARBY?
Besides the neighborhood's sports bars, most businesses in Concourse cater to employees of several nearby courts, so there are few options that remain open late into the night. Most fans hoping for continued entertainment head back into Manhattan.
When not couch-managing New York sports teams, Graham Kates spends his time writing about food and travel, and as an investigative reporter covering the criminal justice system. His work can be found in various national publications, but his pictures of food and rants about the infield shift can be found on Twitter.