(Jason Schott – New York Sports Day)
One goal that George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees had when they built the new Yankee Stadium was for it to be a year-round multi-use facility.
Just six years after the new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009, it is quite clear that they have achieved what they wanted and it is known for more than just Yankees baseball. It is known for college football with the annual Pinstripe Bowl and hosting concerts, international soccer, outdoor hockey in January 2014, and boxing, with Miguel Cotto fighting there in 2010.
Yankee Stadium is now home to an MLS soccer franchise, New York City Football Club, that is co-owned by the Yankees and Manchester City of the English Premier League
NYC FC just completed its inaugural season, and it was a resounding success. They drew around 30,000 fans a game to see international superstars Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, and David Villa.
The biggest challenges were scheduling NYC FC games around the Yankees schedule and if the field would hold up through the summer. They passed both tests with flying colors as the games meshed in seamlessly to the schedule and the field was in excellent shape for both sports.
At a press conference for this year’s Pinstripe Bowl on Tuesday, Yankees President Randy Levine said of the Stadium being accepted as a multi-use facility and if he thought it would happen this fast, “Yes, that was The Boss’ (George Steinbrenner) idea, and obviously this place is the Cathedral of baseball, it was built for baseball, but we spent a lot of time, Lonn (Trost), myself and Hal and the whole Steinbrenner family and The Boss, making sure it could accommodate other sports because this is Yankee Stadium.
“It’s a great facility, it should be used more than just for baseball season. We had great concerts; everyone wants to be here, and so we’re thrilled. Anyone who went to see an NYC FC game here understood the excitement, how great it is. Anyone who’s been to the Pinstripe Bowl and come to see the great schools that have been here – Notre Dame, Penn State, West Virginia, Iowa State, Kansas State, Rutgers, Syracuse – understands the excitement.
“This was the plan, and we’re excited about it. We think we know how to put on events better than anyone,” said Levine.
The Yankees are about to host their sixth annual Pinstripe Bowl, on Saturday, December 26, as Duke, representing the ACC, will take on Indiana of the Big Ten.
Duke, led by head coach David Cutcliffe, will be making its fourth consecutive bowl appearance and 12th all-time. The Blue Devils went 7-5 in the regular season. Their biggest wins were a 34-20 home victory over then No. 20-ranked Georgia Tech on September 26, and a 45-43 win at Virginia Tech on October 24, in the first 4OT game in ACC history.
Indiana, led by head coach Kevin Wilson, will be making its 10th bowl appearance all-time and first since 2007. The Hoosiers finished the regular season at 6-6. They had a big win at home over Western Kentucky, 38-35, on September 19, and a 54-36 win at Purdue on November 28, in the traditional Old Oaken Bucket game.
Levine said of the Pinstripe Bowl, “On behalf of the Steinbrenner family and the New York Yankees, it’s our great privilege to welcome two really good universities, great universities in every single respect, with most important, great academic research universities and great athletic universities, and universities that worldwide statuses within their institutions, Duke University and the University of Indiana.
“This game, I remember when it started, there was a lot of skepticism, and because this is New York City, a lot of skepticism. There was worry college football wasn’t going to work in New York City, and now it’s one of the premier bowl games in the country. Attendance continues to go up, sold out last year, the first year of our great affiliation between two of the premier conferences, great conferences, in the country, the Big Ten and the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“This had to work because, as I have said over and over again, this is Yankee Stadium. We have a lot of events here, obviously this is the Cathedral of baseball, but we have soccer played here, there’s football played here, boxing, and every kid wants to say they played at Yankee Stadium because there is only one.
“Similarly, this is New York City, New York City in the holiday season. As I always say, they make movies and write songs and Broadway shows about this, so for the kids who come here, this is an incredible time to come here, and I promise you, this will not only be a football game, it will be a great experience, an educational experience, for the kids and for their families. It’s going to be great, two exciting teams, two great teams. My guess is the weather may be pretty good, we’ve had snow and we’ve had 60 degrees, so you never know, but football is meant to be played in the cold,” said Levine.
Yankees Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost said of the Pinstripe Bowl, “Wouldn’t it be great if the weather we have today (sunny and 60) could be mirrored on the 26th, what a Christmas gift it would be for the Pinstripe Bowl. Yankee Stadiums, and I say that in plural, have hosted college football games since 1923. This year’s bowl game marks the sixth bowl game that New Era has been involved with, and the 10th college football game that’s been played in the new Yankee Stadium.
“For the first time, on December 26th, when the lights go on during the game, the fans and the players will be treated to something they have never seen before. 600 brand new LED lights have been installed in Yankee Stadium and will light the field like none other. It will be the greatest lit stadium in all the United States.
“Yankee Stadium, home of the 27-time World Champion New York Yankees, will have the privilege of creating a new March Madness. Duke vs. Indiana in December, outdoors, on the grass. Not what we’re used to, but what we’re going to be used to. This will be Indiana’s and Duke’s debut at Yankee Stadium and in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Neither Duke nor Indiana are strangers to bowl games, with Duke having played in 11 bowl games, including two Rose Bowls, two Orange Bowls, and appearances in both the Cotton Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. Indiana, in 1968, played in the Rose Bowl. With players such as Duke safety and ACC Defensive Player of the Year Jeremy Cash and Indiana’s First Team Big Ten All-American running back Jordan Howard, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl could not ask for a better matchup,” said Trost.
Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe said, “Yankee Stadium, wow. Growing up in Alabama, it was only a dream of mine to ever see Yankee Stadium, so I can’t thank you all enough for this golden opportunity. I came up and spent time in March, back a couple years ago, for a baseball weekend, and I turned into an official kid. I got pictures with bats and jerseys and I put a Mantle jersey on, I was blown away by it, so we are very appreciative of this.
“I’m also thrilled with the opportunity to compete against Indiana, a great school. I have watched Kevin (Wilson) coach for a long time, and offensively, I don’t know of anybody better. I’m trying to steal a lot of what you do, and I sincerely mean that. It’s gonna be an incredible matchup and an incredible opportunity for both squads to experience the world’s capital, New York City, at Christmas, just absolutely thrilled about that opportunity. I do know this, I hope Jeremy Cash (Duke safety) meets Jordan (Howard, Indiana running back) a lot during the game, because Jeremy might be the only guy we have that can tackle Jordan, so that would suit me just fine. What an incredible year, maybe the toughest schedule played in the country by Indiana.
“Our kids have been excited about wherever we would go, but I can tell you this, I’ve been talking to them, all while we were waiting, it was all about New York and the Pinstripe Bowl. We’re excited, we’re going to prepare well, and try to play as best we can. Two great conferences, we’re very proud to represent the Atlantic Coast Conference and I’m thrilled to be playing a Big Ten school. Power Five (conference) football at its best. Hopefully, December 26th, I don’t know yet, I haven’t watched enough film to know whether I’m praying for sunshine or snow or rain, I don’t know how to slow these guys down, but I truly hope it is a beautiful day and a great day of weather,” said Cutcliffe.
Indiana Head Coach Kevin Wilson said, “Our guys, we haven’t been to a bowl, I think it’s been four in a row, so great for our guys to have a chance to be at a great venue. Having been to some bowls, I know bowls can be different, but I know what your organization and what New Era’s going to bring for our kids, they’ll be blown away. Ask our team a week ago before we knew, as we hit the road recruiting looking at options, how many kids have been to New York City. I think 20 guys raised their hands, ballpark, out of a hundred sitting in a room. It’ll be a great learning, educational experience, and we’re talking so much about our great schools and they’re going to attract great people. We’re going to bring a great group of kids up here.
“I know having already looked at a little bit of Duke. Coach Cutcliffe doesn’t know this, but we’ve looked at Duke for a long time. We appreciate your spring game being on ESPN3, we watched your practice organization, and how to manage it, the way your managers are working the whole organization. We have a lot of respect for David (Cutcliffe) and what he’s done and just know from afar, they’ve got a tremendous football team,” said Wilson.