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11/17/08 5:42 PM ET

Yanks to open Stadium against Cubs

Exhibitions scheduled for April 3-4 to christen new Cathedral

NEW YORK -- Before the regular season even begins, Yankee Stadium's new turnstiles will spin for the first times. The Yankees announced on Monday that gates will open to fans for a pair of exhibition games against the Chicago Cubs on April 3 and 4.

The $1.3 billion facility will host its first game as a tilt under the lights on Friday, April 3, at 7:05 p.m. ET, then a weekend afternoon affair on Saturday, April 4, at 1:05.

"The Yankees organization is excited and honored to host the Chicago Cubs in two exhibition games to be played at the new Yankee Stadium," said Yankees co-chairperson Hal Steinbrenner. "As we welcome our fans into the ballpark for the first time, it is fitting to showcase two of baseball's greatest and most historic franchises."

The Cubs will be visiting the Bronx for the first time since a three-game Interleague series across 161st Street in 2005. The two clubs also met in the the 1932 and 1938 World Series, with the Yankees sweeping both Fall Classics and the former becoming well known for Babe Ruth's alleged "called shot" off pitcher Charlie Root.

"We are thrilled to have such a great organization in the Chicago Cubs agree to play the first-ever exhibition games as we unveil Yankee Stadium," said Yankees president Randy Levine. "It will be a symbolic event for the fans of two iconic teams while we celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in this proud franchise's history."

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marks the Yankees' first preseason exhibition game played in the Bronx since a two-game, split-stadium series against the Mets in 1993.

The two-game exhibition marks the return of 2008 National League Manager of the Year Lou Piniella, who patrolled the outfield of Yankee Stadium for 11 seasons, was a member of two World Series championship teams (1977, '78) and served as the Yankees' manager from 1986-88. Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano is also a Yankees alum, having been traded to the Rangers in the 2005 deal that brought Alex Rodriguez to New York.

"The Cubs are thrilled to be the Yankees' first opponent in the new Yankee Stadium and are honored to take part in this historic event," said Cubs chairman Crane Kenney. "Lou Piniella and eight of our players had the honor to partake in All-Star Game festivities that helped say farewell to Yankee Stadium last summer, and we look forward to participating in the opening of the Yankees' new ballpark next spring."

The Yankees will have April 5 off and would open the regular season on April 6 at Baltimore. New York is scheduled to play their first regular-season home game in the new Yankee Stadium on Thursday, April 16, against the Cleveland Indians.

The newly constructed Stadium is located on the north side of 161st Street (between River and Jerome Avenues), directly across the street from the current Stadium. With a capacity for 52,325 fans, Yankee Stadium has improved sight lines, wider concourses, significantly improved and varied food options and state-of-the-art audio/visual capabilities.

All of the new Stadium's thoroughly modern amenities exist within the framework of the classic architectural elements of the original Stadium, most notably the instantly recognizable frieze that again circles the grandstand.

Ticket information for the Yankees' two exhibition games against the Cubs will be released at a later date.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.