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Subway Series Returns With Yankee Stadium Open To Full Capacity, But Area Business Owners Say They're Still Struggling

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Friday night marks the return of the Subway Series as the Yankees host the Mets.

With the stadium opened to full capacity, it's a chance for thousands of fans to take in the rivalry.

This is yet another slice of normality, as New Yorkers get a chance to see the Mets and Yankees in person, without many restrictions.

But fans and business owners in the area tell CBS2's Kevin Rincon it's not the same.

There's tremendous pressure on the Yankees to perform, and not just from fans.

"The Yankees don't win, the fans don't come out," said Junior Pagan, an employee at Yankee Twin Eatery.

The pandemic created a lost year for businesses surrounding the stadium. They've long relied on the team to be successful, but never moreso than now.

"We're hurting. Everybody's hurting. Even the souvenir shops, you know. It's tough," Pagan said.

Next door at Stadium Souvenirs, the walls are stocked with Yankee jerseys, but there aren't as many people coming in to buy them. Owner Saeed Ahamed says sales are way down compared to 2019. He's been operating at a loss.

"This area is for a couple of months. We don't make business for this one ... but what can I do?" he said.

Around the corner at Yankee Tavern, more of the same.

"We're still more than 50% off. It doesn't help that they're not playing well, but also there's a lot of COVID hesitancy, and now there's so much talk about another pandemic, the Delta variant and all that," said owner Joe Bastone.

Despite that hesitancy, we've started to see more and more sections of the stadium look like they used to, packed to the brim.

For the fans who are showing up, it's a sign of the progress made in the fight against COVID.

"Glad everything is opened back up. We're pumped up to see the Yankees beat the Mets this weekend," one fan said.

"Amazing. We've been dying for it," another fan said.

"I just hope it's a great game, Mets win, obviously," fan Sharon Thomas said.

"It really is a huge rivalry between the Mets and Yankees every time they play ... It's amazing just to be back in the stadium after seeing cardboard cut-outs and wishing that could be us," fan Andy Bajana said.

Even though Yankee Stadium has been reopened at full capacity, we've yet to see a sellout.

CBS2's Kevin Rincon contributed to this report.

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