Image: Yankee Stadium
Brad Mangin  /  Getty Images
Yankee Stadium is seen from under the subway tracks Wednesday prior to Game 1 of the 2009 World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees. Local business owners say foot traffic is down since the new stadium opened.
updated 1/22/2010 12:35:46 PM ET 2010-01-22T17:35:46

Up the street from the new Yankee Stadium, the Concourse Card Shop sells anything a New York Yankees fan could want. T-shirts, backpacks, stuffed monkeys — all with the interlocking "NY" in colors ranging from trademark Yankee navy blue to baby pink.

But the gleaming ballpark, home to a World Series in its opening year, is pushing local businesses into the shadows.

The new stadium sprouted just a block from the House that Ruth Built, which is in the process of being taken down. However that one block, with an accompanying shift in pedestrian traffic, has made a difference, area business owners say. So has the stadium itself, with its greatly expanded food and retail options, as well as the overall economic downturn.

"We had high expectations with the new stadium and everything," said Concourse Card Shop manager Nicolas Castillo. But so far? It's "a lot worse," he said, with business down more than 50 percent.

At Yankee Tavern, where the floor is tiled to look like Yankee pinstripes, business is off about 20 percent, said owner Joe Bastone. The economy in general has played a role, he said, adding he's glad the new stadium is at least in the same neighborhood.

"It's bringing some business, even though there's more competition because of the new stadium," he said.

The $1.5 billion house that George Steinbrenner built offers quite a lot besides a baseball game for those who can afford the tickets. There are three team stores, an art gallery, a collectibles boutique, a Hard Rock Cafe, a NYY Steak, a Bleachers Cafe and Tommy Bahama's Bar. Food options run the gamut from pizza to hot dogs to sushi and other Asian-inspired foods. There's even a museum, telling the Yankees' story.

The new location also means those on foot head in a different direction once they get out of the subway, away from some of the sports bars and souvenir shops they would have passed to get to the old stadium.

"The traffic was diverted in a different direction, we lost a lot of foot traffic," said Stan Martucci, working behind the counter at Stan's Sports Bar, started by his father 30 years ago.

They've done OK though, he said, since they've been around long enough to have a fan base of their own — regulars for whom the bar is as much an institution as the old stadium was. There also are those Yankee fans, Martucci said, who aren't looking for the higher-priced experience that the watering holes inside the stadium offer.

"They're higher-end bars, suit-and-tie bars as we call them," he said. Average fans, he said, "want Stan's, they want our atmosphere, and we deliver."

The new stadium has made a big difference at Stadium Souvenirs, a store that has been across the street from the old stadium for more than 30 years. Business has been down as much as 40 percent, said Qahtan Salahi, whose family owns the store.

He's happy to see the Yankees playing in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies and hopeful that a baseball season extending into November will give the store a boost. "This year has been down all year long, we're just trying to make up whatever from the World Series," he said.

Business owners are hopeful next season will be better for them.

Bastone from Yankee Tavern pointed out that while his food sales were down 75 percent on opening day, it's now only about 20 percent.

"The novelty's worn off, and people are going to look for a bargain," he said. "I think it's going to adjust over time."

People like Michael Larson, an attorney who works in the area, would seem to prove that point. He was looking for a Yankee cap, and instead of buying it from a store at the stadium, purchased it from a shop down the street.

"I think it's better to buy from the stores than the stadium," he said, citing lower prices. "I buy the food, the beer and popcorn, but the merchandise I get from a local vendor."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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