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Yankee Stadium awaits Kansas State

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010, at 12:04 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010, at 8:49 p.m.

MANHATTAN — Tre Walker is still trying to wrap his mind around the fact that he will soon play a football game at Yankee Stadium.

It's not something Kansas State's freshman linebacker envisioned when he first arrived on campus.

"It's going to be a huge, great atmosphere," Walker said. "This is Yankee Stadium. This isn't the Diamondbacks. This isn't the Marlins. This is Yankee Stadium. It's kind of like the Super Bowl of baseball, and that's the way I'm looking at it. I'm excited for it, I'm anxious to get out there."

Since their last trip to a bowl game in 2006, the Wildcats have played games at Auburn, the Rose Bowl and Arrowhead Stadium, but in their minds none of those venues are in the same league as the world's most famous baseball stadium.

Simply taking the field in Yankee Stadium's altered setup on Thursday in the Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse and seeing "Kansas State" next to the structure's iconic white facade across the upper deck will be a thrill.

Even coach Bill Snyder, who has taken his team to baseball venues in Tokyo and Phoenix for games during his lengthy career, is enthused about playing in the same stadium of the baseball team he grew up admiring.

"In a lot of different ways, certainly it will be exciting for our youngsters to have the opportunity to be in Yankee Stadium and see what that's all about," Snyder said. "The experience can be very favorable."

The field itself will run from home plate to center field, and feature the same setup used for a regular season game between Notre Dame and Army. Parts of the crowd will be further away from the action than in a usual football stadium, but Pinstripe Bowl executive director Mark Holtzman said he received positive feedback from the Irish and the Black Knights following their November game.

"Everyone enjoyed it," Holtzman said. "It went really well."

Much better than the Wrigley Field experiment between Northwestern and Illinois, anyway, when one of the end zones was deemed too close to the stadium's outfield wall and all action went the other way due to safety concerns.

Snyder said he has been in contact with the coaching staffs at Notre Dame and Army, and is not anticipating any issues.

Senior long snapper Corey Adams said the setup could enhance both fan and player enjoyment. It's an experience he sees himself sharing with his grandchildren some day.

"Playing in Yankee Stadium, that's going to be sweet," Adams said. "I'm a baseball fan... so it's going to be really cool to go out there and experience the whole big-city atmosphere."

K-State could still get a feel for New York if it was headed to New Meadowlands Stadium, where both the Giants and Jets play their home games, but the Wildcats think this trip will be unique.

For them, nothing can compare to Yankee Stadium.

"As soon as I see it, it's going to give me chills," senior defensive end Antonio Felder said. "It's going to be a good experience, just to go out there and remember it."

Check Kellis Robinett's K-State blog at blogs.kansas.com/kstated. Reach him at krobinett@wichitaeagle.com.

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