Two Weeks at Yankee Stadium
Civil Engineer –
I had the opportunity to spend 2 weeks in the big city at Yankee Stadium in January. Wait, a civil engineer working at Yankee Stadium? You read that right.
It turns out late January was a busy time in New York with 2 large National Hockey League events scheduled and a certain NFL game which we in Denver aren’t talking about. (I think that game got cancelled and will be played next year?) An architect friend was a little shorthanded and needed someone flexible to help him out with the NHL events. I am not sure how I ended up being the lucky one selected, but I was fortunate to be offered the opportunity. So, one weekend in mid-January, I packed my bags for the longest amount of time I had ever spent away from home and a cold yet unforgettable adventure.
I arrived in NYC during halftime of the AFC championship game. Searching for an internet radio broadcast of the game distracted me from the insanity of New York. I barely noticed the cab ride from LaGuardia to Midtown as I cheered for the Broncos. I checked into my hotel and hustled to meet new and old friends at a bar to watch the rest of the game and to find out who the Broncos would be facing in the Super Bowl.
I barely had time to breathe from the minute my plane touched down in New York to boarding my flight home. I learned that my first night in New York would be a short one with a 6am train departure the next morning. I was ambitious and set my alarm daily for 4am to squeeze in a workout before each jam packed day. The first morning, reporting to duty as a pretend architect, greeted me with an icy cold. I boarded the subway bundled in layers and was wide eyed as the train pulled into the Bronx. I had not been run over yet by a fast paced city resident and tried my best to blend in. The walk into the stadium did not lose its luster during my entire trip. Yankee Stadium is a foreboding, wondrous, amazing, and humbling structure. I’m afraid any words I write about the stadium would not do it justice.
I got credentialed (all access through Yankee Stadium!!) and learned my duties. I was quickly thrown into the world of events and the glamour of working with the NHL. There were two 2 major events scheduled: the New York Rangers vs. the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers (again) vs. the New York Islanders. There were also other smaller events, in between, including media days, family skates, youth games, etc. It was my job to oversee the temporary directional signage for the events, help in event setup, and to assist the architect in planning for the remaining NHL outdoor games to be played in Chicago and Vancouver. I spent a large part of my first day at Yankee getting lost then finding my way and making a plan for completing my tasks before the first official event in a week. I assisted in placing port-a-potties and was fed well by Yankee catering for both breakfast and lunch (buffets and lavish desserts for every meal every day!). My entire time at Yankee Stadium went by as fast as the first day and the two weeks feels like a blur. Each day was long and cold. Morning meetings with NHL event staff, PR consultants, contractors and others were conducted at 7:30 each day, meaning a 6:00 am hotel departure. My morning workouts continued and 4:00 am became standard. The days went long, each evening saying goodbye to the friendly security guards and departing Yankee around 8pm with dinner reservations at 9pm. I got very little sleep but ran effectively on adrenaline and black coffee.
My brain was frozen during my trip and there wasn’t enough time to stop and think about things, but I relished every second. My office was staged in the Yankee pitching and batting cages next to the dugout doors. Each hour I got to pass by pictures of Yankee greats and experience the history and origins of baseball. Some days I passed professional hockey players kicking soccer balls around the concrete service level. For two weeks I got to work and learn from the best in the event business.
The temperature averaged 5 degrees with wind chills dropping temps well below zero most days. My AutoCAD skills were tested while wearing thick fleece gloves. It took several hours to defrost each night in my hotel room. AND, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
My favorite memory, aside from helping an Islander player put his skate protector back on before stepping on the field was shoveling the ice during a snowstorm. Fresh snow can’t stay on the ice for long and it took all hands on deck to grab a shovel and assist. Staring up at the Yankee lights with snow coming down on NHL ice was truly surreal and majestic.
As I reflect on my trip, the part I anticipated to be the most challenging ended up being the part I embraced. I typically hate being alone. I crave the company of others and fill my schedule to constantly be around my friends, family, mentors, and coworkers. Spending 2 weeks alone in a hotel room seemed like it would be challenging but at the end of each day, I ached for the comfort of my bed and some quiet time. Isn’t it great how quickly we can adapt to things? How we can wake up with a smile on our face after only getting 4 hours of sleep? How we can excel when stepping outside of our comfort zones? How being part of a team can make you feel welcomed and appreciated? How playing a hockey game in the elements can be so magical? I know I was presented with a rare experience and I am so grateful for the memories. While wishing for you to experience something similar would be unrealistic, I can encourage you to take risks, accept new challenges and go on adventures. Because a few months later, typing with fleece gloves on won’t seem so bad. And your work (for me, plans & calculations) will be waiting for you when you get back.
10 Things I Learned:
- Walk fast or get run over.
- Don’t eat bacon with perfect scalloped edges. (It’s not real bacon!)
- Share your desserts. You don’t need a giant cupcake at lunch.
- Leaving work at 5pm is a luxury.
- You don’t have to be over 70 to enjoy baths.
- Eating dinner at 9pm is perfectly acceptable.
- CeeLo Green’s target audience is not NHL fans.
- Skinny jeans can be worn with leggings underneath in extreme circumstances.
- Be very careful with where you store your Metro Card. Bends can be deadly.
- There are numerous types of sticky-tape. It takes a high level of expertise and patience to hang signs in a cold environment exposed to wind and snow.