Back in high school, senior year, I was caught by our English teacher, doodling on a notepad. When Mr. Naversen pinched me, I was forced to show him and my classmates my artwork — drawings of each of the fields where our football team played. My masterpiece was headlined “Where They Play.”
Last week, while enjoying the luxury of the Fox suite at the first game in the new stadium in New Jersey yet to be named — watching the Giants rally to beat Carolina 31-18 — my thoughts drifted back to those teenage days. What would a Giants “Where They Play” look like?
So I hit the history books to find out.
Throughout their long and illustrious history, the Giants have called six stadiums home — the Polo Grounds, Yankee Stadium, the Yale Bowl, Shea Stadium, Giants Stadium and the new stadium in the Meadowlands.
The team was formed in 1925 and shared the Polo Grounds, left, with the New York baseball Giants from that season until they moved across the Harlem River to the larger Yankee Stadium for the start of the 1956 season.
The Giants finished 8-4 in that inaugural 1925 season in the NFL, but lost their home opener to the Frankford Yellow Jackets 14-0. Some 30 years later, in their final game at the Polo Grounds in November of 1955, the Giants rallied to tie the Cleveland Browns 35-35 on a late touchdown pass from Charlie Conerly to Frank Gifford.
Moving to Yankee Stadium
Following three straight road games, the Giants christened their new Yankee Stadium home in 1956 with a 38-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Giants went on to win their third NFL championship that year when they whipped the Chicago Bears 47-7 at Yankee Stadium.
In 1973, the Giants announced plans to move to a new stadium in New Jersey for the 1976 season. At the same time, the city of New York began a two-year renovation of Yankee Stadium, below, after the 1973 baseball season. The Giants were allowed to play their first two games of the 1973 season at Yankee Stadium before moving to a new location.
The Giants tied the Eagles 23-23 in their final game at Yankee Stadium that fall, before moving into the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Conn., for the rest of the 1973 season and the full 1974 campaign. The Giants won just one game in the Yale Bowl in two years, finishing 2-11-1 in 1973 and 2-12 the following year.
In 1975 the Giants called Shea Stadium home along with the Jets, Mets and Yankees, marking the only time in history that two baseball and two football teams shared the same stadium. The Giants won two games at home en route to a 5-9 record, including a 28-14 victory against Archie Manning and the Saints in their final game at Shea in December.
After starting the 1976 season with four straight road losses, the Giants opened the new Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, with a 24-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants called the Meadowlands home for 34 seasons and won three Super Bowls in that span. The Carolina Panthers beat the Giants 41-9 in the final game at Giants Stadium on December 27, 2009.
The New York Giants are Super Bowl winners, world champions.
But they are nothing but world chumps when it comes to treating their loyal fan base.
Several weeks back, the Giants announced that they would impose one-time, personal seat license fees on all ticket-holders to help raise revenue for their new stadium, below, scheduled to open in time for the 2010 season.
All current season ticket-holders are being hit with fees ranging from $1,000 to $20,000, depending upon seat location, for the right to buy tickets for the new Giants Stadium.
That amounts to a write-off for corporations and tip money for the rich and famous. But it’s a steep price for the average fan, the working-class hero, with a mortgage, bills and kids in school.
My friend Rich and his family have been Giants’ season-ticket holders for nearly 50 years, since 1960, before Y.A. Tittle, when the team played in Yankee Stadium. The tickets originally belonged to my buddy’s father, then were passed down to his sons.
They’re great seats, field level, around the 45-yard-line, 20 rows behind the Giants bench. Now Rich and his brother are facing a PSL of $10,000 for each seat, along with a rise in ticket prices from $90 to $140 per game.
They’re debating whether they to keep their seats, downgrade location, or give up the tickets entirely.
“We are not interested in getting new blood,” said Giants chief executive John Mara when asked if the PSL concept might result in the loss of present season ticket holders. “We have a very loyal fan base who have been there for a long time, and we want to keep them in the building.”
Although Mara said all the right worlds, the truth is some of those loyal fans will no longer be able to see their beloved Giants.