NEW YORK – The whitish Indiana limestone and Deer Isle granite walls of the new Yankee Stadium rise imposingly in the Bronx, a structure meant to awe like a modern Colosseum or perhaps Versailles.

Across town in Queens, the red brick exterior of Citi Field frames its arched entries, leading into a massive rotunda that evokes Ebbets Field and simpler times.

The New York Yankees and Mets open their new homes with exhibition games Friday night, $2.3 billion worth of ballparks meant to be the ultimate statement in comfort for players and spectators. Just ahead are the regular-season debuts – the official ones – on April 13 for the Mets against San Diego and three days later for the Yankees versus Cleveland.

“Two different philosophies, two different ways of doing business – and they both work,” Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said. “I think the fans are going to love both, different ballparks.”

Conceived in the final years of a gilded age in which no touch was too much, they are filled with restaurants, exclusive lounges, shops and attractions that can make the actual games seem incidental to the commerce around them.

Opening now, with ticket prices up to $2,625 for the Yankees and $695 for the Mets – yes, that’s a single game – they may seem out of step with a suddenly and sharply more restrained era.

But coming near the end of a ballpark boom that began with Baltimore’s Camden Yards in 1992, they mark a defining moment for a sport ever caught between trying to keep modern while reverentially retooling its past.

“They’ve very contrasting buildings in some ways, and they have certain things in common. They’re both buildings that look back as much as forward,” said Paul Goldberger, the architecture critic for The New Yorker.

“Yankee Stadium is somewhat palatial – it certainly wants to you to think so on the outside. It’s very grandiose. The architecture at Citi Field is much more casual to me and relaxed. But again, there’s always been something much more relaxed and casual about the Mets.”

Designed by Populous, the firm formerly known as HOK Sport, they are nothing like their predecessors.

The original Yankee Stadium, baseball’s first three-deck ballpark, opened in 1923 at a cost of $2.5 million, then lost most of its charm and distinctiveness when it was remodeled from 1973-75.

Shea Stadium was a circular multisport stadium that cost $28.5 million and opened as part of the 1964 World’s Fair. It proved to be ideal for neither baseball nor the NFL and became known as one of baseball’s coldest ballparks – both architecturally and weather-wise.

Although the ballpark was home to World Series champions in 1969 and 1986, it was never beloved.

So while the original Yankee Stadium was lauded with tributes and still stands awaiting demolition, the Mets couldn’t raze Shea quickly enough, and its last traces were knocked over on Feb. 18.

Now the Mets have put up an $800 million ballpark with roughly 42,000 seats that they hope makes tickets far harder to obtain than they were for Shea, which held 57,343. The new place gets its name from Citigroup, which said its $400 million, 20-year naming rights deal remained binding despite the company’s government bailout to stay in business.

Inside the ballpark, the Mets are going for intimacy when you’re watching the game and luxury when you’re not.

Fans in the spacious Delta Sky360 Club can peer through a skylight into the two-lane batting cage across from the Mets clubhouse and watch David Wright & Co. take swings. The bathrooms in the pricier sections are modeled after those in Four Seasons hotels.

Right down at field level, fans in the Modell’s Clubhouse can tap fingers with right fielders through the open fence.

Players will stroll from the batting cage, through a clubhouse that is 21/2 times the size of the Shea dressing area, to a water room containing hot and cold therapy pools and a Hydroworx training pool with submersible treadmill and an underwater window for trainers to observe and record.

“We’ve got the best strength equipment, a lot of places to hang out and kind of lounge around, because you spend so much time in the clubhouse,” Wright said. “Not to mention you have your batting cages right outside the clubhouse door. We don’t have to share our batting cages like we did at Shea.”

The Yankees spent $1.5 billion, the second-most ever on a new stadium behind the $1.57 billion for the new Wembley Stadium in north London.

The result is a celebration of self and all that comes with it when you happen to be a Yankee: 26 World Series titles, 39 pennants, and stars such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Reggie Jackson.

The homage to 1923 starts with a re-creation of the old ballpark’s original exterior, down to the cathedral windows and 7-foot, 4-inch eagle medallions outside the main entrance. There are manually operated scoreboards on the outfield fences, a gap between the right-field seats and bleachers that allows subway riders to peer in.

Monument Park has been relocated to center field – behind the fence – and fans can gaze on 1,400 portraits and other objects of art celebrating past pinstripes.

There’s a new team Hall of Fame, high in right field, above two restaurants.

Atop of a ballpark that’s 63 percent larger there’s a re-creation of the famous frieze on the original roof, which was removed during the 1970s renovation.

Standing on the field, it’s unmistakably Yankee Stadium – only a “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” version of the original that’s bigger, bolder and brighter.

“The goal was to try and honor our legacy and the past with the most state-of-the-art amenities in food and merchandizing and seating that there could be,” Yankees president Randy Levine said.

About those amenities, there are three team stores, an art gallery, a collectibles boutique, a Hard Rock Cafe topped by NYY Steak, a Bleachers Cafe and Tommy Bahama’s Bar. That’s just a sampling of more than a dozen specialty restaurants and watering holes.

Fans could spend an entire game in the ballpark without taking time to watch a single pitch.

“I heard someone describe Yankee Stadium as a five-star luxury hotel that happens to have a ballpark in middle,” said Boston Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, who launched the ballpark counterrevolution when he was with the Orioles and helped design Camden Yards.

That pampering extends to the clubhouse. Example: Off the Yankees dugout is a huge video room, where an on-deck hitter can watch recordings of a pitcher, then bound up the steps and be at home plate within a few seconds.

Both ballparks have gone way beyond the luxury suite, although there are plenty of those.

Each team built business and conference centers, and hope to make the ballparks year-round destinations suitable for weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, and corporate functions. You don’t even need tickets to eat at two of the Yankee Stadium restaurants,

“Inside, both of them are very much stadiums of our current time in history, which is to say they have lots of amenities at every level and a very clear sense of maybe social stratification,” Goldberger said. “It’s sort of like an airplane with first class, business class and coach.”

Both clubs received public backing for the bonds used to finance the ballparks, which lowered the interest rates, and they seem happy with what they built.

Next up is Target Field in Minneapolis in 2010, to be followed by the 22nd new ballpark starting with Camden Yards, the Marlins new retractable-roof stadium in Miami.

Only Fenway Park (1912) and Wrigley Field (1914) remain from the great ballyards of old. And that’s fine with the Red Sox, who keep adding bells and whistles to their jewel by Yawkey Way.

“They’re going to be playing in a grand stadium,” Lucchino said, “and we’re going to playing in a nice ballpark.”

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