Thursday’s official grand opening of the new Yankee Stadium had all the trappings one would expect from such an historic occasion.
The New York glitterati was out in force. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, new Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Donald Trump, Regis Philbin and Yankees royalty Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford were among the 48,271 who passed through the turnstiles of the new $1.5 billion playpen.
But not everything went smoothly. For starters, the Yanks were hammered by the Cleveland Indians, 10-2. Some concession stands ran out of hot dog buns, leaving hungry fans stranded, and there were long lines at other stands.
And there were plenty of empty seats because the game did not officially sell out. Capacity is 52,325, meaning roughly 4,000 seats went unsold. Most of those were at the high end of the price range, where the top ticket costs an astounding $2,625.
Still, the new Stadium got mostly good reviews. The Yankees bullpen? That’s another story.
• TICKET GIVEAWAY FIZZLES — Not every problem with Opening Day at the new Yankee Stadium was confined to the ballpark. A Pepsi-sponsored ticket giveaway went awry and nearly caused a riot in Times Square.
The soft drink company had promised to hand out 250 pairs of tickets to Thursday’s game during a pregame event, but only a dozen sets were distributed. About 100 other fans received free tickets for future games, but that didn’t mollify the angry mob that had gathered.
According to the New York Daily News, fans began pushing and shoving, yelling “Pepsi sucks!” and pouring their free sodas into the street. Police had to be called in to calm the scene.
A Pepsi spokeswoman blamed the fiasco on an “internal miscommunication.”
Fans also were supposed to get a chance to meet Hall of Fame reliever Goose Gossage, who was going to hand out the tickets. But as the situation grew more chaotic, the former Yankees star stepped out of a limousine, gave a quick wave and was whisked away for his own safety.
With help from a New York radio station, Pepsi attempted to soothe the situation Friday by offering to give away 500 pairs of tickets for Yankees games over the rest of the season. For many disappointed fans, it’s clearly a case of too little, too late.
• BOOS AND CHEERS — Amid the pomp and circumstance in the Bronx, the more recent former Yankees received the biggest cheers. Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill and Tino Martinez were embraced by the crowd, even more so than Berra, who threw out the first pitch.
One Indians player — former Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano — was roundly booed during the pregame introductions.
The ceremonies were somewhat bittersweet because of the absence of longtime public address announcer Bob Sheppard, who has been ill for about a year and was unable to make it to Opening Day.
Paul Olden took his place, though Sheppard’s taped introduction of Derek Jeter was played when he led off the bottom of the first inning.
COMPILED BY STEVE CARP LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL