THE BRONX, N.Y. (PIX11) — There was a lot of energy outside Yankee Stadium Friday. Fans were excited to be back at the ballpark and business owners were happy to see pre-pandemic crowds again.

Yankees opening day was back in full force. Fans filled the stadium at full capacity and packed the nearby restaurants and bars.

Joe Bastone owns Yankee Tavern, which has been around since 1927. When the Yankees couldn’t play ball during the pandemic, Bastone was barely able to pay the bills. “I was paying my cooks and skeleton staff $2,500 a week and wasn’t even doing a thousand dollars for months.”

That’s why many fans pitched in, spending money on beer and food at local businesses, rather than tickets for ballpark seats.

It was a homerun too at Billy’s Sports Bar on East 161st Street as diehard Yankees fans cheered on their team while spending cash. 

“It was bad for everyone. It wasn’t just bad for us, it was bad for the whole world. We got through it, and we are here now celebrating. Old customers came back. We’re family,” said Joseph Manesis with Billy’s Sports Bar.

As fans watched their favorite baseball players in pinstripes during Friday’s delayed season opener, the business owners, many family-owned, are hoping for a promising season. 

“Not only is it great, but it’s also necessary for us to survive,” Bastone said.