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Yanks rock Hard Rock at new Stadium04/02/2009 3:09 PM ET
By Howard Kussoy / Special to MLB.com
NEW YORK -- The first pitch in the new Yankee Stadium won't be thrown until Friday night, but that didn't stop the place from rocking Thursday morning.
Prior to the Yankees' first workout in their new cathedral, the team officially opened the Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium, with the grandiose style that both name brands are famous for.
Sports and music icons strolled down the blue carpet in the Great Hall, with Yankees legend Bernie Williams joined by rock legends Ace Frehley of Kiss, Scott Ian and Frank Bello of Anthrax, Anton Fig of The Late Show Band and Darryl "DMC" McDaniels of Run DMC.
In lieu of a traditional ribbon cutting ceremony, the rock stars, Seminole tribe members and Yankees representatives, including Hal Steinbrenner, smashed 27 guitars, each one representing a championship the franchise has won, and an extra one for the title they seek this season.
"It's amazing. It's beautiful. I'm just thrilled that they invited me," the Bronx-bred Frehley said of the stadium. "To help them open the Hard Rock Cafe, especially with the team I grew up with, is just great."
Jim Allen, president and CEO of Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment, said, "We are thrilled to partner with the New York Yankees and to be part of Yankee Stadium. Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium will bring two iconic brands, in sports and music, together at this world-class venue."
Following the controlled mayhem, Williams took the stage with children from the Bronx-based Renaissance EMS, which received Hard Rock guitars at the Cafe ground-breaking last spring. The Hard Rock Cafe also donated $5,000 to Renaissance EMS on Thursday.
Williams, who is releasing his second CD, "Moving Forward," led a rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," playing his custom-made blue and white Fender Telecaster guitar, imprinted with a large Yankees logo and his legendary No. 51, which he then donated to the restaurant to hang on the walls.
"What a day," Williams said. "It feels great. They did a great job with the stadium. It looks wonderful. I'm looking forward to watching a couple games here. I think it's going bring the Bronx even to a higher level, as far as a tourist attraction. A lot of people are going come here. It's certainly going mean a lot to the community."
For an apropos encore, Frehley, Ian, Bello and Fig played the classic song "Back in the New York Groove."
"I've been a Yankees fan forever," Ian said. "I couldn't wait to tell people I was playing Yankee Stadium with Ace Frehley."
The 7,000-square-foot restaurant will be open year-round and is located near right field, on the corner of 161st Street and River Avenue. It holds 210 guests, serving both ticket and non-ticketholders on game days and has a full bar and patio seating.
In addition to the musical souvenirs lining the restaurant, the Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium also has several pictures of New York-area musicians, such as Jay-Z and Jennifer Lopez, sporting Yankees gear. The Yankee Stadium cafe's Rock Shop will offer both music items, as well as collectible Hard Rock Cafe merchandise that will only be available at this location.
"Adding popular and premier dining options such as the Hard Rock Cafe was done with our fans in mind," said Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost. "By creating year-round restaurants that provide substantial full- and part-time employment for those in the local community, we are able to make Yankee Stadium a source of pride for Bronx residents."
Before the event, Ian walked through the Great Hall and stood near the foul pole in right field, having pictures taken of him with center field in the background. Clad in a leather jacket, he seemed indifferent to the morning chill and fog that obscured the sky.
As he turned around and arched his neck to see the rest of the stadium, the hardcore guitarist's face resembled that of a 5-year-old child. With a reaction sure to be matched by millions in the coming season, Ian shook his head in amazement, eyes wide and mouth agape, left uttering a single word to himself -- "Wow."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.