First played in 2010, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl has become an annual tradition in the New York City area. Played between Christmas and New Year's Eve, the Pinstripe Bowl is generally the coldest bowl game of the season. The game matches up schools from the Big East and Big 12 against one another.
Yankee Stadium, home of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees, is the home of New York's bowl game. Built in 2009 and configured for baseball, the stadium has become a popular host for football, as the NYC PSAL plays their city championship there, in addition to Army playing an occasional home game in the Bronx.
The stadium holds upwards of 50,000 spectators, but about 10,000 fewer people attended the 2012 edition than the previous year. Tickets are also not available in all sections. Still, the Pinstripe Bowl is a unique experience that any cold-appreciating football fan would enjoy. Seeing high level college football on the Yankee Stadium Kentucky Bluegrass is a special treat.
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At the Pinstripe Bowl you will find the same food as you would at a Yankee game. While the food falls on the expensive side, the quality helps make up for it. Some of the best stadium food in the country is found at Yankee Stadium. While they have the standard fare in pretzels and hot dogs, they also have garlic fries, chicken tenders and many other specialty items. One of the best deals is 8 chicken tenders in a big bucket of fries for $20. Also available for the Pinstripe Bowl is hot cocoa, which runs $4 a cup or $10 in a souvenir cup, and the cocoa is delicious. They have a wide array of beers, priced in the $9-$11 range.
The concourses of Yankee Stadium are filled with concession stands, so even at halftime, it shouldn't be more than a 5 minute wait on line. The concession staff is friendly and pretty efficient.
There is a Yankee themed Hard Rock Cafe in the stadium, which seemed to be getting good reviews from the people who dined there. There's another restaurant, NYY Steak, which offers a higher end steak house menu.
You are allowed to bring in your own snacks as long as they are in plastic see-through bags.
There was a noticeable general buzz as soon as you arrived at the stadium. To see any game in New York City is a thrill, and the Pinstripe Bowl was no exception as fans from both teams (Syracuse and West Virginia) turned out in droves.
Given that this game is played at the end of December in the northeast, snow can be expected, and the 2012 edition of the Pinstripe Bowl was the first to feature snowfall during play. While the bleachers are not covered, the back half of the other three levels are. In addition, the concourses are covered, where many fans decided to stand in and watch the game. You can't go wrong entering through the Great Hall, which is the main gate in the stadium.
Concourses are wide and have a good flow, and you can see the field from the concourses, which is especially appreciated on a blustery day. There are three concourses, one for each level of seating.
Seats on all three levels are nice, as they have cupholders and a back. Bleachers are just that, but they are a great deal in comparison to the other sections. Seats to avoid are the center sections of the bleachers, as views of parts of the field are obstructed. All seats that aren't covered were wet due to the snow and rain coming down, and thus some bathrooms were running out of paper towels by the second half. Both sets of bleachers had most of their patrons standing the entire first half, and some even through the second half. The closest seats to the field, the Legends Suites, weren't sold, so all of those seats were empty. The Grandstand seats weren't sold either, but people moved up there under the frieze to get out of the weather.
The field ran from 3rd base to right center field, with West Virginia's bench on the first base side, and Syracuse on the opposite. Due to the shape of a baseball field, seats towards the middle of the field were the furthest away. The bleacher sections went for the cheapest, and definitely were the best deal as they were as close to the field as any. Each school's band was seated in their side's bleacher section closest to center field (the seats to avoid). Cheerleaders and mascots were behind each team's bench, respectively.
One cool thing with a football game being played in a baseball stadium was seeing the teams use the dugouts as their entrances. Another benefit of playing in Yankee Stadium was the awesome scoreboard in center field. The board is huge and clear. There was a pregame show shot live on the 3rd baseline featuring representatives from both schools, along with a host. The show was displayed on the board and featured interviews and profiles of players from both teams. The lone complaint with the board is that replays sometimes took a while to be shown, or were never shown at all. The ESPN broadcast was shown on the board during gameplay. Sound quality was good.
Yankee Stadium is located in the South Bronx, which isn't really somewhere you want to hang out. There are some bars in the neighborhood, like the popular Stan's Sports Bar, which were mobbed with fans before the game. Safety is not a real issue, as there are so many fans outside the stadium before and after the game, and there is a large NYC police presence. The Bronx is home to some great attractions, such as the Bronx Zoo, but these aren't really near the stadium.
One plus is that Grand Central Terminal in the heart of Manhattan is a 20 minute subway ride away. From there Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and the Empire State Building are all within walking distance, along with many other of the Big Apple attractions.
Bowl games provide a unique scenario when it comes to fans. While Syracuse is in the same state as Yankee Stadium, it is not that much closer to the Bronx than Morgantown, making for a near 50-50 split amongst the crowd. Fans from both teams were scattered throughout the stadium, but fans mainly sat on their team's side of the field. This used to be a Big East rivalry game so there was the good natured ribbing amongst foes, but there really wasn't that much hostility amongst opposing fans. There was a pop from the crowd on almost every play, because half the stadium is happy with every outcome. "Let's Go! Mountaineers!" and "Let's Go Orange (clap) (clap) (clap clap clap)" were heard throughout the game.
Another cool thing was seeing fans from both teams all day in Manhattan leading up to the game. The 4 train from Grand Central was packed with football fans. Given the weather and the driving distance for both teams, I'd say it was a really positive turnout.
Public transportation is the way to go here. The 4 line from Grand Central runs every 11 minutes or so and gets you to the stadium for $2.50 in less than a half hour. It is also served by the B line. The Hudson Line also stops at the stadium.
Driving is another option, but public transportation is much easier and efficient. Parking will run you at least $30, and that is nothing compared to the hassle of driving to Yankee Stadium.
Restrooms were plentiful and warm, which was nice to relieve fans from the cold. There was a very short wait at halftime, which can be expected.
Getting in to the stadium was quick and easy as there were plenty of lines open at each gate.
If you don't like the cold or the winter elements, then this game is not for you. But if you want to see your team play a game in the snow, a rare thing in college football, the Pinstripe Bowl provides that opportunity for you. Even if you are just a fan of the game, this is a very unique experience.
I would definitely advise you to go with bleacher seats, as they are considerably cheaper and offer just as good of a vantage point as anywhere else in the stadium. Taking public transportation to the game makes it more cost-effective, and you can bring in your own snacks if you wish. If you really don't want to sit in the bleachers, you can get a covered seat for about $20 more, but you might not be able to see all passes, punts, and kickoffs, and you will be further from the action. That being said, seeing your school win a bowl game is priceless, and should be on the bucket list for all sports fans.
One point for the video segments on the scoreboard where Syracuse and West Virginia fans got to see famous alumni from their schools wish them good luck.
One point for the snow, which was beautiful falling down on to the playing field.
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