On a day when over 12,000 Gang Green faithful packed into the lower bowl of the box-fresh New Meadowlands Stadium for the Jets final minicamp workout, a unique feeling filled the air. A feeling of change.
A new era had officially begun in New York Jets football. An era of great fanfare. An era of HD screens and digital play clocks. An era of promise.
“The new stadium is great man,” said linebacker Bart Scott. “It’s top-notch, how could you not love it? I think the fans will be excited and be happy that they can come here and watch games in this type of top-notch facility.”
The Jets’ new digs are very much in the same mold of the new Yankee Stadium, not architecturally but conceptually. Much like the recently opened Bronx ballpark, the New Meadowlands doesn’t start over from scratch but expands and upgrades on an older idea. The inside of the 82,500 seat arena bares a striking resemblance to it’s predecessor with a few noticeable improvements.
One of the major complaints of the old Giants Stadium was the scoreboard, or lack thereof. Fans would struggle to view replays and game action on two ancient, 32-by-24-foot, Sony video boards. That issue has been resolved with the placement of four 30-by-113-foot, high- definition scoreboards in each corner of the upper deck of the stadium.
Another noticeable upgrade is the shortened perimeter around the field. Fans are now closer to the action than ever before, literally. The front row of the 50-yard line seats measures only 46 feet from the sideline, the shortest distance in the National Football League by almost ten feet. There also does not appear to be one bad seat in the house, as the arena is free of obstructed views.
The infamous red seats have been replaced by neutral gray seats which give the arena an almost retro look. From afar the gray seats almost appear as concrete benches or metal bleachers of the stadiums of yesteryear. Drastically wider concourses also aid the fan experience, making it easier to get around the stadium for both handicapped and non-handicapped fans.
The improved viewing experience is not however limited to fans. Members of the media will be in for a real treat as the location of the press box and media workrooms have been lowered to the middle level of the stadium, a far cry from the sky-high press area at the old Giants Stadium.
As if following the game from the press box without binoculars at the old stadium wasnt hard enough, functioning televisions were few and far between. This issue has also been resolved with the removal of the barriers between the press box windows which obstructed views and the installation of wide-screen high-definition screens throughout press row.
Taking the cake though, in terms of x-to-y upgrades is the new and improved press conference room. Gone are the days of reporters and cameramen cramming into a room no bigger than a walk-in closet. The new room is glass-enclosed, about 10x the size of the old one and offers seating for about 200 people. That’s right, seating. The days of leg cramps and back pain from standing are officially over.
From top to bottom, the stadium boasts a certain swanky elegance which perfect mirrors its Gang Green inhabitants. It is a new building for a new era where new memories and new history will be made. And there seems to be no better emcee than the gregarious Rex Ryan, a true leader with titanic dreams.
Jet fans…it’s finally showtime.