Auction for Old Yankee Stadium Items Begins

May 12, 2009

The old Yankee Stadium went on sale Tuesday, opening a process designed to turn memories into money - at least enough to cover removal costs and the $11.5 million it paid the city for the privilege.

"Sports will never see such a venue again,'' Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost said at the new stadium, during a news conference full of nostalgic references to the deteriorating building across the street.

So, what is available?

A dizzying array of items, and more to be rolled out over time through Yankee-Steiner Collectibles, from freeze-dried grass to various "dirt products'' to foul poles to pieces of the facade to a section of the wall down the leftfield line that Derek Jeter once fell over to pursue a popup against the Red Sox.

"Our goal is to save as much as we can,'' said Brandon Steiner, whose company will conduct the sale. "People can laugh about the dirt and laugh about the brick, but those are memories we can savor.''

Some items are for sale at a fixed price, such as pairs of generic seats for $1,499 - nearly double the $869 the Mets charged for Shea seats - and $1,999 for seats from a specific season-ticket holder's location.

There also are $749 "commemorative'' seats in which odd bottoms and backs are assembled with new iron arms.

Other items will be auctioned - closing July 24 at Steinersports.com - including items whose values are difficult to assess. That includes the NYY logo in the grass behind home plate and a door to the exercise room that Jeter ritually bashed with his bat before every game.

Some items are informally spoken for by well-connected people, such as No. 2 himself.

Contrary to widespread rumors, Steiner said Jeter is not in possession of the famous sign with Joe DiMaggio's quote, "I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee.''

He made it clear, though, that Jeter will have it eventually. "We'll work something out,'' he said.

Steiner said he is "sensitive'' to the realities of the recession and will offer many modestly priced items.

It has been seven months since sellable memorabilia was removed from Shea. The Yankees have spent much of that time negotiating with city officials.

At Shea, the city kept 70 percent of proceeds - so far worth an estimated $3.5 million - and the Mets kept 30 percent, which they assigned to charitable causes.

The Yankees' sale is structured differently, with the city receiving a flat fee.

Trost bristled when asked about Assemb. Richard Brodsky, a frequent critic, who asserted that the Yankees underpaid, accusing him of grandstanding. Trost left open the possibility of the Yankees using some proceeds for their charitable foundation.

He said the dismantling of the old stadium is expected to begin next month.




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