Sunday, August 16, 2015

Shocker! I actually liked seeing an NYCFC soccer game at Yankee Stadium

Me standing in front of our suite's seating area before the game.
One of the cool things about my day job in advertising is that we sometimes get some great perks. Over the past year, I have gotten to see a number of games from luxury suites: the Mets at Citi Field, the Nets at Barclays Center, and now the New York City Football Club (NYCFC) at Yankee Stadium. Thursday night, I saw NYCFC beat D.C. United, 3-1. And guess what? I actually enjoyed watching the game! (Yes, I am surprised as you are!)

When I was a kid, I went to a few New York Cosmos games, but that was the extent of my soccer fandom. Frankly, as an adult, seeing the games on TV, like the World Cup, were very boring. Oh, and that vuvuzela sound was extremely annoying!

So I didn't expect to be entertained by this soccer game. I initially went so I could 1) see what the Yankees' luxury suites were like, and 2) check out the food! The actual game itself was a distant third.

Some of the food featured in the suite. And condiments!
Michael Kay would not be pleased!
The food was not quite Legends Suite levels (no shrimp or prime rib or Frank Pellegrino cooking, the way Squawker Jon and I once experienced in the Legends section!) but it was pretty decent. I particularly enjoyed the chicken strips, which had a remoulade-type sauce with them, and the carmelized onion dip. Oh, and a variety of beers, including Goose Island, were included!

And the pre-game ceremony was epic. Whoever plans this for NYCFC deserves a raise -- or a promotion to doing it for the Yankees! They had members of the NYPD and FDNY stand in full dress uniforms, across from each other in a ceremonial line, and the hometown players ran through these lines. When the players came out, they each had a kid with them (not sure who the kids were -- if they were local soccer players or family members or what -- but it was still cute.)
The game was surprisingly entertainning!

Xavier High School's JROTC presented the colors before the game. Then an actual LIVE SINGER performed the National Anthem (Angel Reda from "Chicago") -- imagine that concept!

NYCFC has marching-band style music with a modern twist, courtesy of City Beats. They were really entertaining to hear during the game, and they had a huge crowd gathered around them when they performed outside the stadium after the game. It was high-energy music that was more entertaining than what you usually hear at the ballpark.

The game was pretty compelling -- had actual scoring and movement and excitement! I found myself paying attention to the action much more than I expected to. It did make me chuckle, though, to hear NYCFC captain David Villa being serenade with a chant of his name that sounded an awful lot like "DER-EK JE-TER"!

The crowd of 28,000 was pretty intense and noisy -- arguably just as noisy, if not more, than a typical Yankee game!

Look who's here in the suite! A-Rod!
(And me with shaggy bangs! I got a trim
 the next day after seeing this pic!)
Since this was my first time at the suite level at Yankee Stadium, I made sure to soak it all in and pay attention to detail. Yankee Stadium's luxury suites are individually numbered, and have pictures related to the uniform number of the players who wore that number. For example, Suite 7 had a ton of Mickey Mantle photos outside (and presumably inside.) We were in Suite 17, and there was a plaque at the entrance listing everybody who wore that uniform number.

I also made it a point to sashay down to Suite 13, to see if they had any A-Rod stuff. To my surprise, they had multiple pictures outside the suite of him. This, even though the anti-A-Rod New York Daily News provided the photos outside and inside the suites! Heck, A-Rod was even featured inside our suite, which shocked me!

I walked the entire length of the hallways to see what Yankee pix were up. I wonder when they added the A-Rod stuff (I am pretty sure that he wasn't featured in the suite we were in until this summer!) but he is pretty well-represented.

A photo of Derek Jeter from the suite -- I thought this was
 one of the best-ever pix of him!
You know who doesn't seem to be represented at all? Graig Nettles! He wasn't even pictured outside the No. 9 suite. I wonder what the story is with him and the Yankees. Pretty much every major player of his era has gotten recognition in Monument Park except for him!

One of the best things with the photo displays is the way they have multiple photos to represent the same event. The best was seeing multiple action shots of Chris Chambliss' reaction to his 1976 pennant-winning homer!

Back to the game. It indeed was entertaining and got me my sports fix! I also have to say I really like the length of soccer games as opposed to baseball. It was only about two hours or so long, which is great! It is rare I am able to get home to Staten Island by 11 p.m. after going to Yankee Stadium for a night game, so that was a refreshing change.

And that was with staying after the game a little to see how they started to get it back to baseball-playing shape -- we saw them remove some of the grass from the infield. One of my cohorts from work -- a UK soccer fan -- said that the players were tripping on the parts of the pitch that covered the infield. It defiintely looked a little uneven!

Anyhow, if you want to have a fun evening checking out a sporting event, I actually recommend taking in an NYCFC game!

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