The new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009, at a cost of $1.3 billion to build. To pay for it, the Yankees established a block of field-level box seats that cannot be accessed by fans in cheaper seats, who were able to bring their children down to the front row to pursue autographs before games in the old stadium. ...
O’Connor, author of the biography “The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter,” remembers sitting just behind that moat with his son this season and watching as Jeter jogged in from batting practice with a ball he was looking to present to a youngster, something he often did in the old stadium. But there were no children around the dugout.
“So he ended up flipping the ball to Donald Trump,” O’Connor said. “I think that’s the perfect example of what’s happened.
In a simple model of a team’s fan base, you have proles and fat-cats. The Yankees are probably the best example of a team which has appealed to both groups. The storied history of the team is a source of pride for locals of all classes, and transplants are able to leech off of this legacy of success by donning a Yankee cap.
But fat cat fans are reserved, not just in their seating arrangements but also in their ballpark demeanor. The polite opera-friendly behavior cited in the pieces above is a good indicator of the trend. On the flip side, prole fans are tribalists out for blood. They are the heart and the spirit of any team. Fat cats appreciate that the proles are in attendance. They add diversity and authenticity, but NIMBY – over in the cheap seats instead (while they last).
Fat cats increase revenue, but proles increase the type of experience valued by what are the baseball version of the music-snob hipster. As with the arts and other modes of culture – of which New York City is the U.S.’s chief manufacturer – there is a feedback loop between the two groups. Proles provide a lot of the color; fat cats provide the funds. The two groups have maintained a silent if not contentious balance, and any tilt towards one extreme or the other threatens to uproot the symbiotic relationship. Building a fancy new stadium full of comfortable amenities is a shock to this relationship.