Yanks, city accused of deception on park deal

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As the new Yankee Stadium has gone up, I’ve written a few pieces about the Yankees, the city and the whole deal with the parks. In short, I don’t think that the Yanks and the city have played fairly in their park dealings.

The Yankees and the city were supposed to replace the parkland lost when the Yanks and the city agreed to build the new stadium on the spot of the popular Macombs Dam Park. However, neither side has upheld its own part of the bargain, and a new report has come to light accusing New York and the Yankees of deceptively stealing parkland from South Bronx communities. Alex Kratz at the Norwood News reports:

The New York Yankees baseball club and city officials are shortchanging residents on public parkland they promised to replace, and even expand, upon completing the new Yankee Stadium, charges a new report released last week by park advocates.

New York City Park Advocates released its report, “Broken Promises: The City’s Replacement Park Scheme for the New Yankee Stadium Project” last Thursday. It says that without a single public hearing, city and state officials alienated 25.3 acres of historic South Bronx parkland and then said it would be returned fully and then some. The report goes on to say that “a close examination reveals” that only 21.78 acres are being replaced.

The biggest discrepancy in the numbers, according to the report, comes down to the fact that a 2.89-acre asphalt baseball field in Macombs Dam Park (which is being replaced) was not considered in the city’s final analysis. City officials said they didn’t consider it a “recreational facility,” even though residents had used it for baseball, football, bike riding and other uses for decades, the report says.

The report — which you can read in full here at the NYC Park Advocates’ site — is more damning of the city than of the Yankees, but the team, which issued constant promises of adequate replacements for the lost parkland, shoulders some of the blame as well.

I keep coming back to this issue because I’m a firm believer in good government. At this point, I’ve come to terms with the existence of the new stadium. It’s there; it will open next year; and whether we like it or not, there are now just 49 regular season games left in the House that Ruth Built.

But just because the Yankees are a big draw in the Bronx and a powerful organization within the confines of the city doesn’t mean that they should bilk the surrounding communities out of parkland. The team has the fiscal resources and the city has the ability to right these parkland wrongs; there’s no reason why this story of green spaces in a borough noted for its lack of well-maintained greenlands can’t have a happy ending.

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Horne returns, rain spoils the game
Checkin' in with A-Jax
  • Rob

    Fantastic post, Ben. I really appreciate you covering these things. The whole nonsense of the new ballpark, and all the corruption behind it, is one reason I don’t think I’ll be frequenting it. Problem is, my mini-boycott won’ put a dent in their bottomline.

    • David Brown

      I cannot state how strongly I disagree with River Ave Blues on the concept of a new stadium for the Yankees, and their “Love for Parks”. The “Community” has already gained with the improvements to the Grand Concourse and next year’s new Metro North train station. Every time the “Community” (Wherever it is in NY)gets coddled by liberal politicians and groups, very little (If anything) gets accomplished. Look at Willets Point as exhibit A. The Mets pleased the politicians by building in back of Shea Stadium and what happened? The same old dirty junk yards will not only still be there, but be about 30 feet from Citi Field, and the Mets, and their fans will suffer by it (Has anyone ever driven on Willets Point Blvd? I have and it is no fun (This does not include the environmental mess that is there. I thought liberals cared about the environment so much?)). The Yankees said NO to Community Board 4, and fans will have a state of the art facility, with easy access for driving and mass transit. That is much better for the fans and the team than Citi Field.
      The attitude of the Yankees about the new stadium, the draft (Getting the best talent available), and everything else, sure beats the River Ave Blues/ New York Mets liberal crocodile tears approach to baseball. Which is why the Yankees will win title 27, long before the Mets win title 3.
      In conclusion, River Ave Blues, needs to wake up, and appreciate the first class stadium we will have next year.
      David Brown

      • Geno

        This isn’t about how great the new ballpark will be – I’m sure it will be. This is about giving the people in the community what was promised. I don’t see how this is a liberal/conservative issue.

        • Rich

          Really. I am so sick of people using the “liberal politicians” canard as a stalking horse for their inability to articulate a coherent alternative solution to any given problem.

      • Yanks Fan in NY

        Liberal crocodile tears approach to baseball? What the fuck are you talking about, man? This is probably the dumbest comment I’ve ever read on RAB, and that’s saying something.

        This issue has absolutely nothing to do with liberal/conservative issues. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not Ben supports the new ballpark (which, if you actually bothered to read any of his other posts on it, he sort of does). And it has absolutely nothing to do with the draft. In fact, your statement on the draft is laughably wrong. All of Mike’s great coverage last week focused on exactly how the Yankees drafted the best talent available. And leave the terrible Mets out of this site. There’s a reason why the tag “Better than the Mets” is still applicable.

        This is about telling community that they would be getting parkland and then reneging on that promise. It’s as simple as that. Why you’re bringing in liberal politics when this city has seen nearly 16 years of Republican leadership is beyond me. How wrong you are, man.

        • David Brown

          The reason I brought up the draft, is Wilpon and company do all they can do to possibly appease the commissioner, and “Slot” players (At the cost of improving the team and pleasing the fans), while the Yankees try to get the best players available. At the same time, they built Citi Field without cleaning out the junkyards (Unlike the far superior Yankee approach). This is the way that they run their franchise…………. Making people like Selig and politicians like Hiram Monserate happy, but hurting the team and the fans.
          As for the stadium vs parks issue is concerned, you your self acknowledged that Ben “Sort Of supports the new stadium”. You either are or you are not. It is just like being a little pregnant. I think the answer is crystal clear when you guys say “Because We Won’t Tear Yankee Stadium”…………… You are NOT for it. The parks issue (In my opinion, to be honest) has NOTHING to do with parkland, and everything to do with anti-development and (Or) being nostalgic. This is the harping you see at Field Of Schemes, anything to impede progress (Neil is an admitted Socialist, so its to be expected). People complain about Yankee Stadium (And Atlantic Yards for the matter (Guess why the Dodgers left Brooklyn. I wonder if it had anything to do with certain groups being opposed to a baseball stadium there?)), but I do not hear word one about cleaning up areas such as Brook Ave or St Ann’s St? The Democrat run City Council and Bronx Borough President’s Office had DECADES to do that, and still have not. (Just like Willets Point).
          I happen to like River Ave Blues draft coverage (It beats No Maas, NYY fans (And in particular Peter Abraham’s), but the politics behind it is right up there with Field Of Schemes, and I am pro-growth (Just like being pro-Yankee).

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

            Don’t rewrite history. The Dodgers left Brooklyn for three reasons:

            1. Walter O’Malley knew he could get more money for heading west.

            2. Attendance at Ebbets Field was declining.

            3. Robert Moses, hardly some liberal, refused to grant the Dodgers the land at Atlantic Yards.

            It hard absolutely nothing to do with civil groups protesting a move to a railyard. You’re confusing the 1950s with the anti-Atlantic Yard folks in the 2000s (who have yet to put forth any sort of better plan).

            Your comparing Willets Point’s mess to the Yankees’ takeover of parkland is also a flawed comparison. The Yankees and the City promised to replace the parkland, and now they are going back on that promise. This isn’t a hard point to understand, and in no way does it belie any sort of liberal/conservative leaning.

            You seem to like to see the world in black and white, but the stadium itself is a shade of gray. I don’t think the Yankees need a new stadium, and I think that consecutive seasons of record-breaking attendance numbers are a testament to that fact. That said, I like what I see with the new stadium and how it appears. So therefore, I am both for and against the new stadium. Not a tough concept for the vast majority of fans who feel the same way.

            • David Brown

              The issue behind the park replacement (And other projects for that matter), is NOT a case of breaking promises, it is a case of economics (The declining value of the dollar (Which affects commodity prices (And NOT just oil (i was a Finance Major)), has made all projects much more expensive (An issue NEITHER McCain or Obama has discussed). It is sad to say, but that is a reality of the times we live in.
              As for the Stadium itself, one of the major reasons I support it (Besides the improvements inside and out), is the fact, that it is very difficult to get the perfect storm needed to accomplish this Politicians, economy, jobs, currency all had to be in line to get this done (Check out what is happening in California when the three WORST stadiums in the NFL are all there, and they HOPE to finish a new one in LA (For a team to move (I bet the Chargers))).
              I agree about the attendance issue, no question about it. But what about 10 years from now, after Arod breaks Bonds Home Run Record. and Yankee Stadium is approaching 100 years old? Will people still go or the novelity have worm out? I am a New York Islander fan, and I know what a bad building can do to a franchise (I am praying for the Lighthouse Project or I lose my hockey team). So getting the New Yankee Stadium means that we can have a top of the line facility and (I expect team) for decades to come.

  • Geno

    I’ve been a Yankee fan since before I could read, but this is ridiculous. Just another example of big business keeping the “people’s” government in their wallet. Government should be making sure the Yanks (and other big business) give the people a fair shake. Instead, they aid in the shakedown.

  • Cam

    Might be a stupid questions, but was the parkland supposed to be replaced before/during/after completion of the new stadium? I don’t really see where they could put any right now with all the construction going on. And 25 acres? Maybe my perception of an acre is off, but I would’ve never guessed there was that much used for the new stadium and it’s surroundings.

  • JeterMack Clutch

    S bronx would be a lonely place without the Yankees. there is no doubt that we will take care of the residents, but they want it right meow. Can’t blame them, though; it is their community.

  • batty

    Completely agreed.

  • A.D.

    Link isn’t working for me

    But the people to really blame is whomever agreed upon the contract on behalf of the city, the Yanks are always going to be about making money, and the city I’m sure could have negotiated the contract correctly so that there was no issue, and if necessary file an injuction against the Yanks if they failed to comply. The issue is beaucratic, and another excellent case of poor government management (regardless of party/affiliation).

    Ideally would the Yanks just build as much parkland as they could, sure, but they’re a business in the business of making money, so in general they’re unlikey to go above & beyond their city contract. That’s why the city should have though it through, at least Bloomberg was smart enough to option out of Guiliani’s Tax-payer financed deal

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