Last innings for Yankee Stadium
'The House That Ruth Built,' closing at the end of the season, hosts the All-Star Game on Tuesday.
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"But we kept them here," says Fernando Ferrer, former Bronx Borough president. "I said, 'No chance they are moving to New Jersey.' "Skip to next paragraph
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At the new stadium, the Yankees are trying to upgrade some of the Bronx experience. They have announced that the Hard Rock Cafe will be one of the restaurants there.
"When you're bringing in a big name like that, it gives the Bronx a new image," says Lenny Caro, president of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce. "It helps because, mentally, people still see 1977 when the Bronx was burning."
The Bronx hasn't done much better in the eyes of Hollywood producers. In 1981, Paul Newman starred in the movie "Fort Apache the Bronx," a tale of crime, corruption, and a police station that seemed under siege.
Those national images still haunt some residents. Anna Vincenty, who likes to travel, often suggests that people visit her in the Bronx. But she says they reply, "Fort Apache, Fort Apache."
Ms. Vincenty, assistant director at Nos Quedamos, a housing and health advocacy group, answers, "We don't live in Fort Apache."
Indeed, her organization (whose name in English means "We're remaining") has battled for funds to rebuild the neighborhood. Today, she gives visitors from around the world tours of the attractive multifamily housing units. "We have a lot of pride in the Bronx," she says. "We're no longer a blight on the world."
City officials are hoping to use the All-Star Game to further change perceptions. They're organizing to take tourists from Manhattan in historic trolley buses to see the neighborhoods around the stadium. Music buffs can see the birthplace of hip-hop with a tour led by Grandmaster Caz, a pioneer of the genre.
The city hopes that the new Yankee Stadium, which looks fairly similar to the old one, will help to provide economic stimulus. "It's an important anchor, an important base," says Robert Lieber, deputy mayor for economic development for the city.
According to the city, since 2002 an ongoing South Bronx Initiative has resulted in about $1.5 billion in new investment.
The Bronx Terminal Market, which used to be an eyesore, is now being rebuilt as the Bronx Gateway, a $300 million retail center with Home Depot, BJ's Wholesale Club, and Target. Scores of new small-scale residential buildings are also rising.
Even though Yankee Stadium attracts 4 million visitors a season, stadium experts such as Mr. Eckstein say it does not do much for economic development. "Instead, people come, visit, and leave," he says.
But on Tuesday night, the focus will be all baseball. During the game, there are bound to be vignettes of great moments in the stadium. It might be the only thing anyone remembers from the evening, Eckstein says: "Other than that, I don't think anyone will remember a single thing. [All-Star Games] are usually not very memorable."