The 2016 season has not gone well for the Staten Island Yankees at the box office. The lack of parking available in the St. George section of Staten Island is considered to be one of the primary causes of the attendance drop.
The team has been left without adequate parking for their 7,171-seat stadium due to the former parking lots being raised to build the Empire Outlets and The New York Wheel. But they should help get a boost to end the season thanks to the opening of a brand new parking garage at the site of The New York Wheel this Friday according to the Staten Island Advance.
Attendance this season has been a letdown for the Baby Bombers, averaging only 2,299 fans over 28 games which is down 28.63% from last season and their lowest average attendance in team history. The only other time the Yankees average under 3,000 fans was in 2000 when they last played at the College of Staten Island. In their inaugural season, the Baby Bombers averaged 3,099 fans.
The lack of parking was a major issue this season as the island lacks the robust public transportation options that other boroughs have. Though major bus lines and the Staten Island Railway end at the Staten Island Ferry and have regular service at the time of first pitch it is post game the issue of lack of options is available. In addition, the MTA shut down the ballpark station due to lack of ridership in 2010.
The parking issues caused by the construction of The New York Wheel and Empire Outlets has been the number one cited concern by fans on why they do not attend games this season. Other issues included food quality and the atmosphere at the ballpark, but none affected the team as much as the parking. With good reason, Staten Island is very car-dependent and according to the last census, there is an average of three cars per household.
With the construction going on the Staten Island Yankees have been faced with short-term difficulties out of their control with the hope it brings long-term games. The new developments on both sides of the ballpark leave many to believe that the amount of tourist who decide to stay on the island after taking the ferry increases and with the New York Wheel ridership expected to be around 3.5 million people each year the team should see a boost after it opens.
The lot which will be opened for the games after the New York-Penn League All-Star Game will be valet only, with 820 spaces available for use while construction is completed. In December the garage is expected to be completed and bring with it 130 addition spaces for 950 total spaces in the garage. Until construction is complete fans will be able to access the garage via Bank Street at the foot of Jersey Street. After completion, a new entrance will open at Richmond Terrace and Nicholas Street, which is approximately two blocks down from the Hamilton Avenue entrance to the ballpark.
Parking at the garage will cost $8, which is the same as the previous parking lots which occupied the site and according to New York Wheel’s spokeswoman Tiffany Townsend commuters can text the number 917-696-3751 to arrange advance pickup of their cars. A feature which should come in handy on game nights.
Next season the parking issues that plagued the Staten Island Yankees the last two seasons should be a thing the past with the additional opening of Empire Outlets. The first outlet center in New York City will also feature a 1,250-parking garage that will further increase the available parking for game days.
The Yankees, who are undergoing a re-branding effort, are currently in their fifteenth season at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark and currently have five years remaining on their original lease with the City of New York. Part of the lease includes the availability of parking for game days, something that has not been the case the last two seasons.
How much of a boost will the Staten Island Yankees see thanks to the new parking garage is yet to be seen, but it puts the team in a much better position when they open the 2017 season with a brand new name.