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Jet-Giant Conversion

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

It’s not news to readers of this blog that I don’t care too much about football. I mean, I follow it and all. Yes, I know that Michael Vick replaced Kevin Kolb for the Philadelphia Eagles and did pretty darn well. Yes, I know the Giants so far suck this year, and the Cowboys kept their hopes alive of playing at home in the Super Bowl with a win yesterday over their cross-state rival Texans. But really, I’m sick already of these story lines — Vick, Giants, Cowboys. And Favre. I don’t want to think about football until Thanksgiving. There’s enough else in sports to occupy me.

Yet, something did get my attention a week ago yesterday, when I watched a small slice of the Jets-Patriots game at the New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey. You may recall that the Jets began life as the New York Titans in 1960 in the old American Football League, playing in the Polo Grounds. They would soon move to Shea Stadium, which they shared with the New York Mets baseball team, and changed their name to the Jets. Then they decided to leave Queens (and new York City) behind for the meadowlands of New Jersey, joining the Giants in 1984 as tenants in Giants Stadium. After a failed effort by the team, New York City Mayor Bloomberg, New York State Governor Pataki, and others to get a new Jets stadium built over the rail yards on the west side of Manhattan, the Jets agreed with the Giants to jointly build a new stadium in the meadowlands. It opened for football two weeks ago, with both teams playing at home that inaugural weekend.*

What caught my eye a week ago, as I caught glimpses of the new field during the Jets broadcast, was that the stadium was trimmed out as a genuine Jets home stadium, something the Jets had to do without during all those years as tenants of the Giants. How did they do it? I figured that the week before, when the two teams played at home on successive days, it must have been quite an operation to turn the stadium over from a Giants home to a Jets home.

Well, sometimes you get what you wish for. The New Yorker’s Samantha Henig was on the case. Two weeks ago she observed the conversion, and last Friday she shared the details in the New Yorker’s blog. The post even has a slide show to help the reader visualize the process. An excerpt:

It was five o’clock on a damp Sunday afternoon in mid-September: four hours since the New York Giants christened the new Meadowlands stadium with their first game of the season; thirty-seven minutes since they locked down their victory, thirty-one to eighteen, against the Carolina Panthers; and twenty-three hours until the stadium would begin admitting Jets fans for their turn at a season opener in the new space. That meant less than a day to transform the 1.6-billion-dollar stadium from the Giants’ quarters to the land of the Jets. In Giants Stadium, which both teams shared from 1984 until last year, that was easy enough: as the name implied, it always had a bit of a visitor’s feel for the Jets. At the more even-handed “Meadowlands Stadium,” lights, banners, flags, and artwork all coördinate with whichever team is drawing the fans. Luckily for the forty-six workers orchestrating the night’s quick conversion, this stadium is made to morph.

Even the clothing store had to be converted: “Inside, twenty-five workers in dark gray shirts and black pants wore the glazed expressions of Internet gamblers on an all-night binge. But their marathon was more tedious: stripping the Giants shirts from mannequins and dressing them in Jets gear; restocking three hundred T-shirts, three hundred sweatshirts, and five hundred caps; and, as a final flourish, switching the store lighting from blue to green.”

Forget football. Let’s televise this.

*Maybe I should point out that I grew up going to Giants games at Yankee Stadium and Jets games at Shea Stadium. Those were the days.

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Categories: Design, Sports
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