As the old Yankee Stadium continues to be demolished, city and Bronx officials announced Wednesday that the surrounding neighborhood will soon receive enough replacement park land.
The upper deck of the "House That Ruth Built" is being torn down piece by piece. Officials said today that the entire upper deck will come down in three weeks and the entire structure will be razed by June.
Park advocates are upset that the demolition has taken so long, but city officials said Yankee Stadium cannot be compared to Shea Stadium, which came down right away.
"You're in the middle of a neighborhood, you have major transportation structure right next to the stadium. We need to do this in a safe way," said Economic Development Corporation Chairman Seth Pinsky. "The good news is that in the meantime, we've accomplished an enormous amount. We've opened a number of parks, we've built the parking garages, we've built a new Metro-North station."
"This reason why this is taking so long is that I believe, and what the community believes, is that there was much for of a focus in making sure that the new stadium goes up across the street," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "The Yankees did not know whether or not they were going they were going to be able to open the new ball field for the start of the new season, so they kept the footprint here just in case."
A new track, soccer field and tennis courts are soon opening a few blocks away from the old stadium. Yet advocates are still upset that the Yankees are entering their second season in a new stadium built on former park land, while the replacement parks are still incomplete.
"This community is losing two ball fields, at the end of the day, to make way for the New York Yankees," said Geoffrey Croft of New York Park Advocates. "It's a horrific deal and the elected officials just stood by and allowed it to happen."
Once the stadium comes down, it will be replaced by several baseball fields called "Heritage Park."
Some community members had previously asked for the city to preserve the old stadium's Gate 2 entryway, but city officials say it cannot be done.