NEW YORK CITY—It's now the House that Steinbrenner (and New York taxpayers) Built, part coliseum and part baseball cathedral.
It';s Yankee Stadium 2.0, built on the everlasting foundation of Gehrig and Ruth, Dimaggio, Mantle and Maris, Jeter and Rivera.
"What we saw up until 2008 was 'The House that Ruth Built,'" says Tony Morante, the director of stadium tours. "Mr. Steinbrenner was very responsible for putting us into this beautiful new facility."
Morante has earned his pinstripes, beginning as an usher at the old Yankee Stadium in 1958.
The first stop on the tour is the newly minted team museum, where World Series trophies glimmer amid baseball memorabilia beneath the cases. Visitors can search for their favorite Yankees in the Wall of Baseballs — 870 autographed balls from players through the ages. A full exhibit is dedicated to Gehrig, 'The Iron Horse.' Thurman Munson's locker has also been immortalized.
Next, the tour heads downstairs to the luxurious Yankee Clubhouse, twice as big as the space in the old stadium.
"It's always exciting to be in the inner sanctum of the clubhouse where the players change, where the champagne was spilled." Morante said, as he proudly reminded us the team won the 2009 World Series, the first season in its new home.
We travel through the spacious thoroughfares of the stadium, past the (incredibly expensive) seats and head beyond the centerfield fence, where Yankee blue gives way to the bronze of Monument Park.
"The area we're located in now, ladies and gentlemen," says Morante, "is the most exclusive part of, not only Yankee Stadium, but any ballpark for that matter. There is no other like it."
Six monuments and 22 plaques honor Yankee royalty like Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.
"The history of Monument Park, it kind of blows you away, the amount of pride," says Jim Kehoe, visiting the stadium for the first time from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
A response like that keeps Morante on his game.
"I want them to leave with a sense of our history," he says. "Why we're here today and what brought us here and why we're at the pinnacle of sports."
The Yankee Stadium tour, which runs every day, costs $20 per person. The tour, which takes about an hour, leaves several times from Gate 6. To find out more about schedules and availability, go to http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/nyy/ballpark/stadium_tours.jsp