What Becomes of the NY Stadiums?

Both New York teams are building state-of-the-art, distinctly different retro-parks that will take them far into the 21st century. But, as a true Stadia fan, you’re probably sitting there thinking, “OK, that’s all well and good, but what’s happening to the stuff?”

Fact is, they don’t know.

You see, although veritable volumes of text have been written on the old/new parks, the actual demolition information has been sparse. The largest nugget of information came in the March 24 New York Post by means of an article titled “Yankees and Mets Want Their Cut$” by reporter Jeremy Olshan.

According to Olshan, who seemed to take a somewhat dim view of the whole thing, the Yankees and Mets are in secret talks with the city of New York to buy the ballparks before the demolitions “. . . so they can plunder them for lucrative memorabilia to peddle to fans.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg (a millionaire businessman many times over in his own right) confirmed the negotiations but would not elaborate on the specifics of the deal(s).

The Post contacted various memorabilia experts in their quest for the truth. First up was Lelands president Mike Heffner, who said, “At other stadiums, everything from the scoreboards to the dugout urinals have been snatched up by fans, but Yankee Stadium is in a whole other league of collectibles . . . each brick could sell for $100-$300 . . .  I doubt we’d have any trouble selling every seat in the house for as much as $1,000 . . . with its huge fan base, Shea Stadium will also fetch a big payday.”

Heffner went on to compare possible upcoming auctions at the New York ballparks to the $900,000 sale of memorabilia from Busch Stadium in St. Louis, which Lelands handled in 2005. The rhetorical question was asked, “If Albert Pujols’ locker sold for $20,000, how much would Derek Jeter’s bring?” However, Heffner noted that there was no scientific formula for predicting the value of the thousands of fixtures from each park, though the price of $500 for a single Shea seat was bandied about.

A word of caution was offered by Richie Aurigemma, who is both a respected Stadia dealer and a prodigious collector. According to Richie, “With more than 100,000 seats for sale at the two parks, it will take quite some time for them to appreciate. But that said, the teams will have no trouble selling every blade of grass, every grain of dirt, everything that isn’t bolted down, and everything that is.”

Which must beg this question for those Stadia collectors among us: “What are my wooden seats from the original Yankee Stadium now worth?” Well, if you click on eBay, you can see the prices rising as we speak. And, if you have a (much rarer) original wooden seat from Shea (replaced with plastic inserts in the ’70s), and you are able to authenticate it, you have yourself a real gem that should be worth at least double what the newer plastic ones will garner.

It will be interesting to see how these separate yet related soap operas play out. Dramatic music, please!

Will the last regular season games at Yankee Stadium/Shea Stadium be regarded as the “final” games, or will playoff games count?

Will attendees of these last games be metal detected for Sears Craftsman socket sets?

Will the final games end with all-out melees such as those witnessed at Forbes Field and Shibe Park in the 1970s?

Will each individual grain of infield dirt sold have its own hologram?

Will the average Joe collector be priced out of the whole thing?

Only time will tell. Until next time, please stay seated!

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