The coolest construction picture you’ll see all day. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)
Chalk this one up to the “too little, too late” department.
One day after word leaked about the Yanks’ intentions to seek more money to fund their stadium construction, New York’s elected represented hopped up on their soap boxes with vows of “never again.” Never again will they allow such a high amount of public funds to go toward sports franchises. Never again will backroom deals be allowed to carry the day. Color me skeptical.
Three state Assembly members from New York City called for a public hearing to examine a proposal to provide public support for one the richest franchises in sports.
“These sports teams are private companies that appear addicted to keeping their hands in the government cookie jar,” said Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn.
Brodsky, meanwhile, is going a bit overboard with the rhetoric, but he too brings up some valid points. As The Sun reports, Brodsky compared these tax deals to Soviet Russia. “These decisions are being made in secret in these Soviet-style meetings and it is outrageous,” he said. More compelling are Brodsky’s arguments about the state of the New York economy:
“What’s at stake here is a much bigger issue than whether you like or dislike the Yankee Stadium deal,” Brodsky said. “Stadiums [are] soaking a lot of the tax-exempt financing, and we can’t fund the capital plan of the MTA and we’re short capital money on schools and hospitals.”
While there are myriad reasons why the state can’t fund the MTA’s capital plan — legislative neglect, the downfall of congestion pricing, Brodsky’s own refusal to dole out the funds — his overall message is a valid one. The state is not in a fiscal position where it should be giving more funding breaks out to its wealthy sports institutions.
As Charles Bagli wrote in The Times today, the end game of this debate will probably lead to cost increases across the board for projects of this nature with the potential rule changes impacting the Atlantic Yards development, Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. But somehow I think the sports franchises will worm the money out of the public coffers one way or another.