As anyone who follows me on twitter would know, last night I was offered the opportunity to catch the NY Jets hosting the Washington Redskins at the new Meadowlands stadium with BBS from Stampede Blue. Considering it was just preseason and I was interested to see the new stadium of our old rival while also getting a chance to scout out the Redskins, I decided to miss the Eagles game and headed to the swamps of North Jersey. Apparently, I didn't miss much.
First, I'll say a bit about the actual game. It was, as is often the case with preseason, pretty brutally boring. Lots of mistakes, sloppiness, ect. The first half ended 6-5. Yes, the Jets scored 5 points. Mark Sanchez is the same QB he was last year, I saw no real growth. He'll make some good throws but he's going to throw a lot of picks again this year. LaDainian Tomlinson still has something left. The only exciting play of the entire game was a 50 yard run he broke when the Jets were pinned against their own goal line. That said, the old LT would've taken the ball to the house.
The Redkins were without Donovan McNabb, by the way this is the third time I've went to a live game that Donovan McNabb was too injured to play in. Imagine that... In his absence it was tough to get a real idea of what their offense looks like. I will say, for his part, Rex Grossman wasn't terrible. The much maligned Redskins offensive line actually gave him good protection for the most part against a very tough Jets defense, but they got almost no push in the running game from what I saw. If there was one obvious weakness on the Skins offense it's the receivers. The fact that Joey Galloway appeared to be starting for them should tell you all you know. There were bad drops, miscommunications with Grossman, & they struggled to get open at times. The Skins defense looked generally solid. The Jets broke off one big play and were able to move the ball, but couldn't convert for TDs.
After the jump, I've got some impressions about the new Meadowlands stadium.
If I had to summarize what the new Medowlands is, it's a big functional stadium. You can get a train right to foot of the stadium. The concessions are all pretty conveniently located and you can get around the place easy enough. My main criticism is simply that the place appears to lack any real character or defining characteristics. You don't see many team colors around, which I suppose is by design since it's a shared stadium. All the signs around the stadium are either digital that presumably can be switched from green to blue depending on whether it's a Jets or Giants game, or they're those flippable signs that you might see at a bus stop or something. The lights around the stadium shine a green glow on it for Jets games and undoubtedly they turn blue for the Giants. If they were to turn off the signs, you'd have no idea what team played there. The stadium is very much generic by design. The people working at the concession stands wear black football jerseys, which confused me at first until I realized that they likely wear that uniform for both Jets and Giants games. So the digital signs are convertible, but the employee uniforms aren't.
The inside is again, functional. The sight lines are all fine, but the stadium has a somewhat empty feel to it. I imagine that had to do with the fact that they decided against putting two big giant screens with replays and game info at either end. They instead opted for four medium sized screens at the corners of the stadium. I can't say that's a flaw since a stadium certainly doesn't need a giant jumbotron to be good, but I guess since it's so common that the lack of one was noticeable. Who knows? This might end up actually being seen as a good thing. The stadium is very tall and closed in, which is probably something they felt they had to do with the wind that's often an issue in the flat, open area that surrounds the stadium. Again, that's a functional design element but gives the stadium a somewhat dated feel. You don't see those tall, closed off stadiums like the Vet, RFK, & Three Rivers as much anymore. Most new stadiums are these wider, more open venues like you see in Philly, Pittsburgh, and Seattle.
There were also some hiccups that are probably just attributed to a new stadium opening. The staff didn't seem to know where anything was, half of pyro during the Jets intro simply didn't work, & music would start blaring at odd and seemingly unintended times. It's preseason for them too so I can't criticize that much.
One thing I found funny was this thing they're trying to promote called "railgaiting." They had their stadium announcer guy talking about how they've "invented" this thing called railgating which is basically tailgaiting for train riders. Almost exactly like at the Linc they have a big common area inside the stadium with a band, food, and drinks. They want people to come tailgate there rather than in the parking lot. The guy even said at one point "Sure, you can fight through traffic and tolls and parking and tailgate out there if you want... or you can come in here and railgate!" The funny thing is, the ENTIRE point of tailgaiting is so you don't have to pay the outrageous stadium prices for beer and food.
In the end, I don't want to give the impression that I think there's anything wrong with the new
Giants Meadowlands stadium. It's convenient and functional. I just think it's very generic. Given where the stadium is and that's it's a shared venue ... maybe they didn't have much a choice.
A better description might be that's it's everything the new stadium in Dallas is not.