One park that will now be a parking lot. (Photo by Ben K.)
When the Yankees and the City of New York agreed to the deal that allowed the Yankees to build a new stadium atop a popular park for a green-starved South Bronx neighborhood, the city — and not the Yankees — was supposed to replace the parkland before the new stadium opens in ten months. Now, according to a weekend report in The Times, the cost of replacing the parks has skyrocketed, and the city is well behind schedule.
Timothy Williams reports:
The cost of replacing two popular parks where the new Yankee Stadium is being built has nearly doubled. At the same time, several of the eight new parks, which were supposed to be completed before the new stadium opens next spring, have been delayed by as much as two years, according to city documents.
The price of the new small parks — which are to replace tennis and basketball courts, a running track and baseball and soccer fields eliminated to make way for the new stadium — is now projected to be $174 million, almost one-seventh the cost of the $1.3 billion stadium itself. The original estimate had been $95.5 million. The increase comes amid skyrocketing costs for construction projects, both public and private, around the city.
As anyone who’s read my subway work at Second Ave. Sagas knows, skyrocketing construction costs have impacted all facets of New York construction from the subways on up. It’s not a surprise, then, that the cost estimates for these parks has doubled, and the final figures will probably exceed the $174 million mark when Heritage Field — on the site of the current Yankee Stadium — is completed in three years, five years after the South Bronx lost its parks to the new stadium.
Interestingly, as the article notes, the construction costs for Yankee Stadium have gone up by as much as 60 percent, but the Yankees are loathe to talk about that aspect of the project.
So then, why should we care about parkland in the Bronx? It’s easy to overlook the community aspects of this new Yankee Stadium. Admittedly, the building going up on the northwest corner of 161st St. and River Ave. looks great, but the community shouldn’t be ignored. While the vast majority of Yankee fans coming to the Bronx visit Yankee Stadium as though the building and the surrounding stores and bars are an isolated baseball bubble, they exist as part of a larger neighborhood, and that neighborhood — and the city at large — is getting screwed over.
As a good government advocate, I find it more than a bit dismaying that the Yankees aren’t paying to cover the costs of the parkland. While they’ve donated some money to cover the cost of taking over one of the borough’s most popular greenways, the city is footing the bill. This is just one of the ways in which the city is giving the money-laden Yanks a taxpayer-funded break to build a new stadium on valuable park space.
To make matter worse, the current replacement park at Jerome Ave. and 161st St., which has become very popular, will be turned into a parking lot. The Yankees win while the people who live in the neighborhood lose. At a time when the city is strapped for cash and is looking to cut funds for some vital services, that they have to fund park costs because they did a hundred-million-dollar favor for the Yanks is a black mark on the team. The Yankees weren’t going to leave New York, and the City knew it. Yet, city officials caved anyway. It’s too late to make amends, and the Yanks and the City are simply honoring terms of a deal they struck. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.