NYC facing cost overruns for Yankee Stadium replacement parks

Unmemorable Memorial Day for the bullpen
To coin a phrase

April 6

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.

Unmemorable Memorial Day for the bullpen
To coin a phrase
  • Jamal G.

    Hey Ben, if you don’t mind me asking, what do you do for a living? I’ve noticed that these threads that focus on the business/government side of the new Yankee Stadium seems to have a personal feel on it. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s noticed but I thought it was because you work in a field that is relative to community outreach and things of that sort.

    • Ben K.

      I don’t work in community outreach for a living, but it’s something I care about and will probably pursue after law school. I’m a good government supporter though, and I think the stadium deal has been a raw one for the city at a bad economic time.

      • Jamal G.

        Law school? That’s cool because I was attending John Jay for my Freshman year before I had to drop the Spring semester a couple months ago (medical reasons).

        I was involved in a couple community activist groups last year in High School for some extra curricular activities on my college resume but it has always been a part of my life.

        • Ben K.

          Yup. Law school in the fall for me.

          • LiveFromNewYork

            I’m another lawyer who would gladly change careers a minute. When I was going to school though I wouldn’t listen to any lawyers who told me to rethink it. I wish I had. But good luck Ben!

            I don’t get the city being strapped for cash. Bloomberg has completely pimped us out to tourism and the city is overrun with them. There’s more tourists than roaches and neither are easy to get rid of.

            I think the city wastes large amounts of money and that the Bronx is always last on its list. It’s the city’s mismanagement of that borough that has caused its downfall and hopefully it will spring back up someday (hopefully that renaissannce is on the way).

            I have trouble feeling sorry for the city having lived here most of my life and being raised here and seeing how much waste and nepotism exists at the highest levels of this city.

            I don’t expect the Yankees or any other organization to save the city from itself. I think that the city needs to take responsibility for its fiscal messes and it never does.

  • Pablo Zevallos

    yet again the big guy sits on the little guy…*sigh*…the evils of capitalism…

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    If you ever want to get real fired up, read “Free Lunch” by David Cay Johnston. The whole book has stories about how the wealthiest people and corporations get richer at the taxpayers expense. One of the stories happens to be about the Yankees.

  • Marsha

    All I have to say is THANK YOU MAYOR BLOOMBERG. As Ben pointed out, the Yankees were not about to leave the Bronx, no matter how much bluster George emoted. It’s all about the corporate boxes, not the community who lost one very large and often used park and ball fields. Yankee Stadium attendance is breaking records and now we are going to get a smaller and more expensive ball park and the locals are losing their parks. Who wins here?

  • Ban Bud

    The Yankees should foot the bill? Here’s a thought – the Yankees have already had $500 million taken from them under the guise of “revenue sharing” since 1997. How about some of those welfare teams on the dole dig deep and do something for the Yankees for once?

    • Ben K.

      Are you suggesting that some of the other baseball teams foot the bill for the Yankees’ new stadium and the displace parkland? I’m not quite sure how that logic works, revenue sharing arguments or not.

      • A.D.

        Revenue sharing doesn’t really come into play now, and the Yanks get their ballpark credited to some extent against what they would have to revenue share, and the Devil Rays & Marlins don’t loose out because the Bronx doesn’t have ball fields for the kids

  • ctkaiser

    Wow! I thought I could rant. It seems as though despite everything Ben K. states is probably true all of a sudden in my last trip to Yankee Stadium I notice three new buildings going up below the off ramp to the Stadium where there was nothing but an abandoned warehouse previously. I can’t help but think it’s not totally unrelated to the new Yankee Stadium. Not to diminish the importance of rec fields but new business is important too.

  • Ban Bud

    Revenue sharing is absolutely relevant. You can’t expect the Yankees to subsidize half the league with their own hard-earned dollars without there being some consequences, specifically in regard to the Yankees’ willingness to flippantly throw around whatever cash Bolshevik Bud deigns them to keep. I think the Yankees could do much more for the local community with that $500 million than the welfare billionaires do for their own communities with those same Yankee dollars.

    Welfare queens like Carl Pohlad and Jeffrey Loria can buy themselves gilded yachts and you don’t hear a peep from the baseball writers, but if Young Master Steinbrenner could make some people in the community happy for just a few million dollars he should be called to the fore for his miserlyness?

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