For different reasons, merchants, community activists await promises of a new stadium

Trenton downs Scranton 3-2 in exhibition game
Bill James speaks; everyone listens

With the start of the season upon us, news and analysis about Yankee Stadium is flowing fast and furious. The stories focus on the last gaps of the old stadium and the ongoing construction efforts across 161st St. to the north. While historical retrospects tinged with nostalgia fill the pages of the city’s papers, not all the news is so rosy as the new Stadium goes up.

Much like efforts to save the old stadium, stories about the Yankee Stadium construction’s impact on the surrounding South Bronx neighborhoods haven’t gained much traction. Neil deMause has spent the last few years beating that drum on his own website and in the pages of the Village Voice, but a movement to force more responsibility from the Yankees hasn’t materialized.

Two stories this week shed some more light on how construction is adversely impacting life around the former Macombs Dam Park. Harvey Aarton in The Times noted how the community was never really against the development of new stadium. Rather, they were and remain against irresponsible development. They did not want their park destroyed and feel they are getting a raw deal from the city and the Yankees:

The Yankees got what they had long lobbied for. The city said it would replace every park acre, roughly 24, and would actually add space. This all sounded perfectly reasonable to the outsider, but the fine print diluted the promise. On a miniature scale, this was Central Park being broken up, spread among the boroughs.

“The story was always about the fragmentation of the park,” said Geoffrey Croft, the president and founder of the NYC Park Advocates, a nonprofit group. “And when I started looking at the replacement scheme, it never added up.”

These advocates believe the Yanks could have spent two years in Shea as they did in the mid-1970s and rebuilt Yankee Stadium on the site of the old ballpark. Of course, then the team would have sacrificed the increase in parking lots surrounding the new area. Maybe these neighborhood activists are onto something after all.

An article in yesterday’s Metro tells a similar story.

Also on Tuesday was a Clyde Haberman column about merchants cashing in on the final years of Shea and Yankee Stadiums. Of course, merchants will cash in, and fans — like me — will buy Final Season memorabilia. Interestingly, the merchants are awaiting the big guns: They want to be able to sell bits and pieces of the old stadiums. With lockers potentially fetching $10,000 and bricks going for $300, there’s real money to be made here.

As the season progresses, we’ll hear a lot about stadiums and history, about construction and community. I think it’s interesting to see how the various pieces of business and culture and neighborhood politics mesh and clash in small area tinged with baseball history in the South Bronx.

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Trenton downs Scranton 3-2 in exhibition game
Bill James speaks; everyone listens
  • Joseph C.

    $300 bricks? They must mean bricks of cocaine.

  • Curramba

    Joseph,
    Good point. LMAO

    I agree with the articles the Yankees should have built the new Stadium at the same location. Why make the ghosts move?

  • Joseph C.

    Yeah. This whole thing makes me kind of sick.

  • Will

    There is no way the Yankees were going to play two years at Shea, while the old Stadium was demolished and rebuilt. As much as I love YS, the bottom line is the Yankees wanted a brand new stadium and were going to get it somewhere. The community in the Bronx hemmed and hawed everytime the Yankees threatened to leave in the past, so you can’t have it both ways. In Brooklyn parks are gobbled up left and right for things as glorious as a Home Depot and yet no one says a word.

    As for selling off the parts of the stadium, I see nothing wrong with that. No one is being forced to pay $300 for a brick. But, if someone has the cash and wants to spend it, why shouldn’t the Yankees and the City take their money?

  • http://deleted Randy

    I’m not happy that they’re building a new stadium but the yankees are well within their right to do so. The issue I have is their complete disinterest in making that community any better as being a member of that neighborhood. There was the promise to build a better, larger park that apparently isn’t going to happen and I haven’t heard anything about economic improvement to the overall area outside of some parking lots and stores that will sell more yankees stuff. They’re a significant member of that area and they have the responsibility to use some of their resources to make that community stronger (just like the rest of the community does). Even from a business perspective that would seem to help them as much as anything else that they plan to do. I don’t see how it is that hard to do that. As a resident of the bronx, I would be much more proud of my team if they did concrete things to help the community while building the new ballpark.

  • Curramba

    Randy,
    I completely agree with you. The Yankees being such a big business (lets be honest they are a business) should be working to improve the community around the ball park as they are a big member of that community. The city needs to make sure that what was promised to the community is fulfilled and that the same park area remains for them as they had before if not larger.

  • Will

    What are some of the things the Yankees should be doing in the community, that they are not? To be honest, I am not sure what of their level of involvement is, so I am just curious as to your opinion as a resident of the area.

    According to a report I read, there is considerable investment (i.e. construction) taking place in the Bronx, of which the new YS is a part. Does this capital investment not represent a commitment to the community? Also, before everyone lambastes the Yankees for not fulfilling their promised obligations, can we at least wait and see whether they do. The new stadium isn’t finished yet, and from what i gather, most of the promised park land doesn’t come until after that transition takes place.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      The parkland was supposed to come before that transition takes place. Promised payments to the community in exchange for the parkland have been slow to materialize as well.

      • Will

        My understanding was temporary parkland would be created before being replaced. Because a good deal of the parkland will be on top of newly constructed parking garages and on the site of the current Stadium, I don’t see how it could be delivered BEFORE the move.

        • http://deleted Randy

          in addition to the parkland, they could be doing things like what is going on in washington, dc with the nationals new park. they are building hotels, apartment buildings, malls etc. to re-vitalize a terrible area in DC. there is a large stretch of area from the stadium all the way to the 145th street bridge where the yankees could help make major improvements. It is right along the water, there is parkland already available right across the river and there is a whole bunch of dilapidated, useless buildings in that area. that would be a great place to start and again it just makes the yankees look better which is great for all of us. Just to be clear, the yankees are a baseball team and are not the city government. I am not saying they need to cure all the city’s ills, but when you are building a 1.5 billion building you can do something to help the area as well. I don’t think it is too much to ask to be engaged in some kind of community service that can arise from creating a state of the art facility.

  • http://bleacherreport.com/users/11036-Ryan_Barry barry

    My only question is where are the official documents that say the Bronx will get x amount of capital in x amount of years? I always read articles about what the Yankees aren’t doing but I haven’t seen any material evidence that they aren’t doing what they said they would. I guess I just want to more information on what the promises really are.

  • http://everythingbaseball.wordpress.com Aaron

    Keep us posted on where to buy pieces of the stadium once the season is over. I’d pay for a seat or a couple of bricks.