With this week’s MLB All-Star game happening at Yankee Stadium, lots of attention has been brought to the fact that the fabled sports arena is joining fellow New York landmark Shea Stadium, down the path of renovation. The Yankees and the Mets are each getting a new stadium, to be ready in time for the 2009 baseball season. The closure of both staidums ends an era of entertainment as well as legendary sports. For Variety, Robert Schwartz looks back at some of the famous film productions that transpired at Yankee Stadium, and some of the great music concerts that happened at Shea:
Many of the film images that stick in the collective mind are ones that were not, in fact, shot at Yankee Stadium. Case in point: “Pride of the Yankees,” arguably the most famous sports biopic.
Its famous scene of Gary Cooper as doomed slugger Lou Gehrig declaring himself “the luckiest man on the face of the Earth”? A soundstage.
“They did use establishing shots of the famous facade but that’s really it,” said Sam Goldwyn Jr., whose father produced the film. To save on travel costs, the final scene was lensed on the MGM backlot using “plates,” an early version of the green screen. The old Wrigley Field in Los Angeles doubled as Yankee Stadium, perhaps karmically setting the stage for the Dodgers decampment from Brooklyn to Chavez Ravine.
Rock promoters will undoubtedly book the Mets new Citi Field for a concert in the coming years, but that stadium will have big shoes to fill in music circles.
The Beatles famously performed twice at Shea Stadium, once in 1965 and again in ’66. The August ’65 show was the first concert to be held at a major outdoor stadium and set records for attendance and revenue, proving an outdoor concert on a huge scale could be successful and profitable.