- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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The New Meadowlands Stadium will open this NFL season, and a tour Thursday revealed that although the accommodations will be a lot better, they won't be cheap.
The New Meadowlands was open Thursday for a press tour. Reporters and photographers were issued hard hats, safety glasses and bright orange vests. Despite this gear, few in the group were in danger of being mistaken for actual construction workers. The exercise seemed a little silly, given that there will be a lacrosse tournament held on the field this weekend, and there probably aren't enough hard hats for the 20,000 or so spectators who could show up.
Take, for example, the nicest seating in the place -- aside from the owners' boxes. It's a collection of 20 suites joined by the Commissioner's Club. There are fireplaces, wood-paneled walls and red leather chairs. The only thing needed to join this 400-member club is more than $700,000 a season and perhaps an ancestor who came over on the Mayflower.
There is a definite caste system depending on how much a ticket is worth, with multiple levels and clubs. For the right price, you can watch the game from the field and take in Tom Coughlin's news conference. Although the upper-level amenities are limited to free mustard, even those seats don't have the same sky-high feeling as Giants Stadium.
Both NFL teams decided to apply personal seat licenses to tickets. The teams applied the surcharge in different ways and to different seats, but plenty of longtime season-ticket holders have been forced to evaluate how much they really like watching their teams in person, and then put a dollar amount on it.
Right now, neither team is sold out. The Giants, who attached PSLs to all seats, had about 2,000 available when they last released numbers. A Jets spokesperson said the team expects to sell out by the start of the season, and had sold out of the 27,000 upper-level seats which did not have PSLs attached.
There are 220 suites, each with padded, outdoor seats and access to exclusive concessions. All told, there are 82,500 seats at the new stadium and four giant video screens measuring 113 feet long by 30 feet high. The screens alone displace a few hundred seats, but the idea was that the experience for each fan would be improved. That, and nothing hanging over the field on kickoffs.
Most important for Giants and Jets fans, everything here will be equal. The locker rooms were built with the same square footage and customized for each team. The colors can be changed: A green stadium will be blue a week later. Even the concessions will be fully Giants- or Jets-related, depending on which team is playing.
The ability of the stadium to change its stripes so easily was particularly important to the two teams.
"I think what made the partnership work was that when they were the home team, their fans would feel like they were the home team," said Mark Lamping, CEO of the New Meadowlands Stadium Company.
And this could end up bringing fans of the two teams together, because if Jets and Giants fans can agree on anything, it's that $8.50 is probably too much to pay for a beer.