Home Metro-North First season a success for Yankee Stadium Metro-North stop

First season a success for Yankee Stadium Metro-North stop

by Benjamin Kabak

Then-MTA head Lee Sander, left, with Mayor Bloomberg, Jorge Posada and Brian Cashman during the May unveiling of the Metro-North Yankee stadium stop. Photo by Benjamin Kabak.

For the New York Yankees, the first season in the team’s new stadium ended in grand fashion. A week ago, the team captured the franchise’s 27th World Series Championship with a victory at home. As part of the new infrastructure supporting the stadium, Metro-North began train service to the area, and the transit agency says that it too had a season for the ages.

According to numbers released by the agency, 6009 people — or 12 percent of the total stadium attendance — took Metro-North to Yankee Stadium for Game 6 of the World Series. That record day capped a season well within the projections, and Metro-North officials were pleased with the ridership levels and revenue streams from the new station. “Overall, for the first season, the results are very good. It is a big success,” Howard Permut, president of Metro-North, said.

Long a part of the plan to use construction of a new Yankee Stadium to help aid in the revitalization of the South Bronx, the Metro-North stop was nearly discarded when the MTA and the City could not agree to a funding plan. In May 2007, two years before the projected opening date, though, the City agreed to pay $38 million in construction costs as long as the MTA footed the bill for the other $53 million. The Yankees, prime beneficiaries of the station, contributed nothing.

In late May, the station opened for service, and as the Yanks’ successful baseball season wore on, the station grew in popularity. For weekday games, ridership averaged to 2900 people per game. During the weekend, that number reached 4000, and prior to the playoffs, the single most popular game was the Saturday, August 8 affair against the Red Sox. Approximately 5600 fans took Metro-North to that game. During October, the station’s popularity hit its peak. For the eight playoff home games, Metro-North averaged 4800 riders per game.

Amidst these numbers, Metro-North officials all but guaranteed the future benefits of the Yankee Stadium stop. “The success of this station is assured as more and more people try the service,” Permut said. “Those who have left their cars behind are generating very positive word-of-mouth evidence that the railroad is safe, easy, fast, reliable, and beats driving and parking.”

Yet, despite these assurances, these ridership totals are lower than initial projections. During the build-up to the station’s opening, Metro-North documents believed that between 6000-10,000 fans per game would flock to the commuter rail station. Although Metro-North officials blame a rainier-than-usual summer and the fact that the Yanks rarely sold out their stadium as causes for their low ridership totals, I’m willing to chalk that up to Year One. Fans were not aware of this new option, and as word-of-mouth spread, more left their cars at home and turned to the trains.

Still, the real test for the Metro-North stop at the country’s most transit-accessible baseball stadium will be next season. Coming off of a World Series title, the Yankees will again draw between 48,000-50,000 fans per game, and the station should see ridership figures approach that projected average. With just 100 riders per day passing through the station on non-game days, more Yankee fans will have to turn to the station for it to meet projections.

Even with these numbers, though, the station is providing revenue for Metro-North. The agency drew in approximately $200,000 in advertising and expects to net another $10,000 in vending machine sales. And that is good news for the cash-strapped MTA.

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john November 11, 2009 - 4:33 pm

“The country’s most transit-accessible baseball stadium” ? Hardly… Seattle has terrible transit but its baseball stadium is served by a light rail line and two commuter rail lines (yes, they have special trains just for the games). It would be hard to do more than tie any city with decent transit whose stadium is close to downtown.

Benjamin Kabak November 11, 2009 - 4:35 pm

Three subway lines, a Metro-North stop, two Ferries and a few buses all run to Yankee Stadium. Maybe it’s just a tie, as you say, but Yankee Stadium is one very accessible ballpark.

JebO November 12, 2009 - 11:02 am

One light rail line vs. three heavy rail subway lines.
Two commuter rail lines with special trains just for the games vs. three commuter rail lines with special trains just for the games.
No ferries vs. two ferries.

We’re talking transit here, and I think the answer is clear. However, walkability is another story. The Mariners play in a pedestrian-friendly location right downtown. That is to be highly commended, and is far better than most baseball stadia.

First season a success for Yankee Stadium Metro-North stop | River Avenue Blues November 11, 2009 - 5:31 pm

[…] season in operation and my thoughts on why ridership was lower than initially projected, check out my coverage at Second Ave. Sagas. Posted on Wednesday, November 11th, 2009 at 5:30 pm in Asides, Yankee Stadium. RSS feed […]

Alon Levy November 11, 2009 - 5:50 pm

Revitalization of the South Bronx? Why, have stadiums ever reduced poverty around them?

Benjamin Kabak November 11, 2009 - 5:51 pm

Not all but a few. Take a look at the impact of the Verizon Center on the Gallery Place/Chinatown neighborhood in D.C. Whether that’s progress though is debatable.

Anyway, the Yankee Stadium discussion is a bit different because the city was replacing one stadium with another right across the street. The city was able to use the construction of the new stadium to add Metro-North access to the South Bronx though. So in that sense, the stadium construction contributed to increased public transit access to the area at a cost far more reasonable than most major MTA projects.

Alon Levy November 11, 2009 - 8:18 pm

But the stop doesn’t really serve the South Bronx – it’s inconvenient to get to from the actual neighborhood. Think of it as the equivalent of adding a Metro-North station at 96th in Riverside Park and heralding it as accessibility for the Upper West Side.

Mike G November 11, 2009 - 6:39 pm

Petco Park located in downtown San Diego was a huge part of revitalizing an old worn down warehouse/railyard area into streets with condos, restaurants and hotels. When ballparks aren’t surrounded by huge parking lots, they typically do spur economic activity.

AK November 12, 2009 - 8:53 am

Pac Bell (AT&T Park) in San Francisco had similar effect on the community, though the voters of SF weren’t nearly stupid enough to endorse public funding or financing of any kind. Neither were Bostonians, and hence, the Patriots never got their pristine new stadium in Boston (after all, its tough to ask NFL owners (all of whom are billionaires) to construct their own factories…

SEAN November 11, 2009 - 7:11 pm

When I went to the Stadium near the end of August, I took the train in stead of driving. It took me all of 50 minutes including a connection at 125th street & a brief walk from the station to & from the gate each way. Yes, the trains were mobbed, but it was part of the fun & everyone took it all in stride despite the Yankees losing to the Rangers that day.

The round trip fare was $10 for me & $16 for a friend. You cant beat it when you figure gas + tolls + parking. I garentee the total exceeds $26.

JAR November 11, 2009 - 8:29 pm

Good that you point out that the Yankees, primary beneficiary of the stadium, contributed nothing. Not a knock on the station, though. Having some fans taking Metro North will keep a few more cars off the highways, cuts congestion on neighborhood streets, and reduce drunk driving risks.
The MTA, in general, seems to “get” selling mass transit to Mets and Yankees fans more than they ever have: the 7 Mets Express, LIRR schedules to Woodside connecting to the Mets, weekday evening D express trains stopping at Yankee Stadium, the new Metro North station, and (amazingly) helpful and informed station staff at both locations on game day.

AlexB November 11, 2009 - 8:59 pm

Is the station open during non-game days? If so, did anyone ride it then?

If you add up subway ridership and metro north ridership, what’s the percentage of people arriving at the stadium not by train?

Adam G November 11, 2009 - 9:18 pm

$0 contribution from the Yankees, a decidedly profitable enterprise, in a project that received untold amounts of public money?! Shameful.

John November 12, 2009 - 9:59 am

Why would the Yankees want to contribute? Honestly, they’d probably rather have everyone drive to the game, so they can get $10 per car for parking. Look at the Dodgers – theirs has to be the LEAST transit-accessible stadium in the country. But it appears that they want it that way, as they have parking lots stretching to the horizon.

For the second half of the 2008 season, the Metro set up a shuttle from Union Station to Dodger Stadium. As you may have heard, there are some budget issues in California, so the shuttle was scrapped for 2009 (even though I believe it was fairly popular), as they couldn’t get the Dodgers to subsidize it at all.

Walter Sobchak November 11, 2009 - 10:17 pm

This station could have been built 20 years ago, and be more convenient (it’s right next to the old Yankee Stadium), but then again the city had no reason to give something to the South Bronx. Only taking away parkland from the poorest neighborhood in the country and giving it to a multi-billion dollar corporation was enough to get this station built, as a so-called service to the community.

The station is used by the community on off days, but it is too hard to reach. Plus, the stadium(s) is a dead zone on off days, except for the restaurants inside the stadium that have eaten into the patronage of local businesses. And don’t expect ridership to rise much more than what it is now; the people who can afford $1,500 seats are not the type to take the train, but will instead park inside one of the new garages the city was forced to build for the Yankees. Also, the smaller capacity of the new stadium removed 7,000 potential transit customers in the first place.

The new station does manage to be nicer and seemingly better built than the new stadium, amazingly enough.

Mark November 12, 2009 - 8:15 am

How are the yankees benefitting from the new stadium? Wouldn’t all the people taking the train have to get to the stadium anyway? It’s not like they get any of the advertising or vending machine money, and I’m sure they don’t get any of the money from the train tickets sales. Maybe there’s something I haven’t thought of.

Scott E November 12, 2009 - 8:53 am

I’d say they can sell more (non-alcoholic) concessions in the 8th and 9th innings, since fans won’t be leaving early to beat the traffic. Come to think of it, they can buy more beer too, now that they don’t have to drive home!

JebO November 12, 2009 - 11:06 am

More access from more modes is always a good thing to attract people to an event or venue. Some people will prefer the train which will make attending a Yankee game a more attractive option for more people, allowing the Yankees to command a higher price for ticket sales. The people who prefer to drive can keep driving, but now they’ll have less traffic to fight and an easier trip.

The official Yankees garages will always be filled to capacity. The garages that will lose business will be the ones that are a greater distance from the stadium, like the Concourse Plaza Shopping Center on 161st Street between Sheridan and Morris, for example.

Jim R December 11, 2009 - 12:19 pm

This might be necroposting but, the article states that non-game day ridership is about 100 per day, which is to be expected. The nearest stop, Melrose, on the Harlem line gets about 75 per day (which is up from <25 seven years ago). The stop is somewhat isolated, but once the parks open and construction is complete, it will be readily more accessible. They also need to allow for more access to the new mall at the Bronx Terminal Market. I believe the original estimates for non-game day were 1,000, which is ridiculous. 250-300 per day would have been a better estimate.


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