Yankee Stadium, Citifield Parking Woes Continue a Long, Adversarial Tradition

By Ken Kerschbaumer

It may be cold comfort for sports broadcasters dealing with outrageously expensive parking rates at Yankee Stadium and Citifield, but a historical document dug up by Metropolitan Opera engineer in charge Mark Schubin shows that stadium parking battles have been a reality for nearly 60 years.

The letter, written by Alfred Morton, NBC VP in charge of television, was sent to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Hyde Park and laid out why the President would be watching fencing instead of professional football.

“Our dilemma revolves around permission to park our nice, big, television trucks on property adjacent to the Polo Grounds in order that we could take you, by television, to these games on Sunday afternoon,” explained Morton. “The owner of the only available property is as vacillating as a weather vane. First he said we could park…then he said we couldn’t. He changed his mind four separate times. We offered to pay a stiff parking fee. We also offered to reimburse him for any damage to his property. Sad but true, he told us as far as our television trucks were concerned, he just didn’t want any hifalutin’ contraptions around. We tried every argument we could think of to get the game for you but in vain.”

Instead, the letter continues, New York’s Fencer’s Club would be covered. “Who knows?,” said Morton. “Thrust and riposte, lunge and parry, may prove more exciting than a forward pass or an end run.”

“We just stumbled on it,” says Schubin, who was researching the development of NTSC Television with Bill Allen of Dolby for a possible Emmy award. “I was going through FDR’s correspondence related to television and there it was, in file 136, box 9.”

For the complete letter click here.

Schubin says the same file also contained a pamphlet RCA published in 1940 called “Television’s First Year” that highlighted “the introduction, about four months ago, of new ‘vest pocket’ television field equipment, so light and compact that a complete basic unit may be carried in a small truck.”

And in a final piece of sports broadcasting history, a March 3, 1940 article in the New York Times discussed the need for more than one camera for sports broadcasts.

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