After negotiating the parking lot with surprising ease, we entered the unnamed stadium at the Pepsi Gate and, after a brief detour at midfield, made our way to our new home in section 133. The seats we had been assigned were supposedly comparable to those we had inhabited at Giants Stadium, only two rows closer to the field. Row 6 at Giants Stadium had been close enough for visiting players and officials to hear our infrequently creative shouts of derision ("Hey Dexter, read this!") and for me to once nearly catch an errant punt during pregame warm-ups, but row 4? Row 4 is close enough to hear the snap count. Row 4 is close enough to chat-up the side judge, if one were so inclined.
Emerging from the tunnel, I made a beeline for row 4. But when I got to the bottom of the section and checked the number of the first row, it read "5." Rows 1-4 were, inexplicably, nowhere to be found.
What an absolutely deflating moment. We felt like the Griswold's at the gates of Walley World. Sorry, folks. Park's closed. Moose out front shoulda told ya. After expressing our disbelief, we located a member of the stadium's guest services staff, an amiable, curly-haired fellow who assured us that the seats did, in fact, exist yet for some reason weren't installed. Because the stadium had been built to accommodate various configurations for a multitude of events, he explained, a large number of the seats ringing the field in the lower bowl were removable. Those included rows 1-4 of section 133, the seats the Old Man had just driven an hour and a half to sit in.
Needless to say this didn't sit well with us. So we sought out a higher-level staff member stationed on the concourse behind section 146 to whom we could voice our displeasure and, we hoped, get some real answers from. The staff member was found but the answers, unfortunately, were not. Instead, the staff member (who, to her credit, was very nice despite being quite obviously overwhelmed) took the Old Man's name, number and email address and told us to expect a call sometime this week. As of this writing, no such call has come.
Beyond the disappointment of not being able to view our seats at an event billed as a "seat viewing" (or even being able to confirm that they exist) I have to admit that I was also underwhelmed by the new facility in general. I am aware that we're still 4 months from the first preseason game and that efforts will be made in the interim to spruce-up and beautify the place, but right now it's a whole lot of drab concrete, a whole lot of gray. And with the upstart co-tenant going halfsies on the project and demanding if not deserving equal footing within, I don't see how that's going to change in any significant way. Other than the Coach's Club, which we saw for the first and last time on Saturday, the place has a very industrial feel. Cold and austere. Decidedly corporate.
The gigantic video boards in each corner are cool, I guess, if gigantic video boards are your sort of thing. And the view that best approximates the one we will supposedly have from our non-existent row is pretty awesome, too. The seats themselves are more comfortable and offer more leg room than the seats in the old building, as well, and there appear to be more and larger bathrooms in addition to significantly wider concourses. I'm not trying to be negative, really. I'm sure, in time, the new joint will grow on me, just like New Shea has. It's just hard for me to embrace the place right now, not just because I have nowhere to sit inside of it, but also because the old building is literally standing on its last legs a stone's throw away.
That, besides learning that our seats might not exist, was my main problem with the seat-viewing. From the moment we pulled off of Route 3, my eyes and attention kept veering towards the demolition across the parking lot. Looking at it from certain angles, Giants Stadium--my old treehouse--reminded me of the Roman Colosseum, a modern ruin. I took a total of 19 photos in the hour and change that we were there, and 9 of them were of the demolition. Check them out here, if you can stomach it.
The only similarity between the old building and the new building, from what I can tell, is that our seats didn't exist in either on Saturday. I can still buy a pair from the old building for $499 if I want, though. In the new building, $499 will buy a round of beers. Maybe a pretzel.
The Giants must be under the impression that the fans, like the lower stands, are removable, reconfigurable. In other words, replaceable. Even 46-year season ticket holders like The Old Man. And, sadly, they're probably right. But that doesn't mean we're not owed an explanation and an apology. Considering our investment, in both dollars and years (not to mention emotional energy), that's the least they can do.
Not content to take the moose out front's word for it, we anxiously await their call.
4/28 UPDATE: I guess the squeaky wheel really does get the grease. The Old Man received a call this afternoon from one Kevin Frattura, Vice President of Sales for Giants Stadium, LLC. Mr. Frattura explained to the Old Man that our seats do, in fact, exist, and that they had been removed to accommodate a configuration for soccer. He mentioned that he was calling at the urging of Giants VP of Communication Pat Hanlon, who had been made aware of this post. Thanks, Pat.