Congress looking into Bronx land valuation

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The level deck of the new Yankee Stadium will not have any seats. (Photo courtesy of The YES Network Message Board)

As Yankee Stadium, above, rushes toward completion, some politicians down in Washington are going to poke their noses into some city business relating to the supposed value of the South Bronx land.

Late last month, Richard Brodsky, a New York Assembly representative from Westchester, journeyed down to Washington to brief Dennis Kuchinich’s House Domestic Policy Subcommittee on the city’s stadium financing deals. Brodsky has contended, among other things, that the city overvalued land to get tax breaks for the ball clubs. Brodsky also charged the city with spending too much and receiving just 15 new permanent jobs in return. Neil deMause had the lowdown on Brodsky’s report.

Yesterday, Rep. Kuchinich spoke in advance of next week’s Congressional hearing on the issue. According to the Ohio Democrat, city officials could face prosecution if his committee uncovers allegations of wrongdoing. Richard Sandomir had more in yesterday’s Times:

Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio and chairman of the House’s Domestic Policy subcommittee, wrote Tuesday in a letter to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg that if the I.R.S.’s enforcement arm audited the sworn representations of I.D.A. [Industrial Development Agency] officials, “they could be guilty of perjury if the misrepresentations were deliberately inaccurate.”

He said the agency’s claims about the value of the stadium “cannot be relied on.”

In an e-mail interview on Thursday, Kucinich said that “our factual findings could be the basis for a later agency or court finding of legal liability.”

In the letter and interview, he cautioned that the I.R.S. could roll back the tax-exempt status of some or all of the stadium bonds. He also suggested that the I.R.S. could reject the Yankees’ pending request for tax-free status on an additional $366 million in bonds to complete the financing of the stadium, which is scheduled to open in April.

Basically, this issue come down to the valuation. The Parks Department valued the parkland at just over $20 million; the city’s Economic Development Corporation pegged it at $40 million; and the IDA issued a report alleging a value of over $200 million, well over market value for Bronx land. With this valuation in mind, the team was able to secure a whole slew of tax-exempt loans.

What this means for the team is unclear at this point. The stadium will be open in April, and someone will pay for it. It might be the team; it might be the city; it might be the taxpayers. No matter the outcome though, I doubt the Nets are going to get their new arena quite as easily as the Yanks and Mets secured the funds for their new digs.

Open Thread: Why do the playoffs suck?
Price on Peavy, Teixeira and other free agents
  • Lanny

    So this is what Dennis Kucinich does. I feel like I accomplished something today.

    Maybe he should also investigate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and see how much they gave to the politicians who enabled them. That means you Chris Dodd and Barney Frank.

    • Mark B

      Amen, Lanny.

      Hate to get political on this site, but hearing this makes me want to puke.

  • Jesse

    Cookie Cutter staduim.

    Get them Kucinich, way to attack people that do not vote for you. Classic Washington. Do not address hte problems of your district or state but another so that when you run again you can argue you are a reformer or maverick.

  • Steve

    My accountant thought this article was fascinating. I got halfway through the first paragraph before my eyes glazed over.

    Judging by the number of responses, I wasn’t alone.

    • Ben K.

      Next time I’ll be sure to dumb it down to your level, Steve. Thanks for the input.

  • deezer

    nice piece. well written.

  • JeffG

    The Yankees are still paying for the stadium. If they retain their tax free bonds its not like the bond holders, who financed the stadium, will not be getting their interest. It’s only that the govt wouldn’t have their sticky little hands in the pot.
    I know Bronx land isn’t worth very much but the land in the immediate surroundings of a new billion dollar stadium could be argued to have some increased value.
    Also, there are way bigger problems facing our nation. It strikes me as funny how politicians waste their time on sports related issues because it puts their face in front of a larger audience.
    These probes, including Bonds and Clemens, are where the taxpayers are really getting cheated. I wish the people we put in office would spend more of their energy on the issues that matter.

  • Pablo Zevallos

    Kucinich is just looking for a record to run again in 2012…

  • kenthadley

    yep, and if anyone thinks it is going to get better after November, they are naive….or a politician themselves……all these guys are from the same mold….the kind of mold that grows on cheese…….the worst financial crisis in 80 years, war, Putin doing imitations of Nikita, and they are investigating whether the land under Yankee Stadium was overvalued…..incredible…..

  • THU

    He’s a jerk. I wouldn’t doubt this is just to stick something at NewYork and the Yankees. He’s a known Yankee Hater in Cleveland and is just upset the Indians will lose millions of dollars due to a casino option being on the ballot which has a huge backing in Ohio. If they manage to open one, no one will be going to progressive field to watch the junky Indians.

  • Old Ranger

    Must agree with most of the posters today.
    Ever notice when there is a big problem, congress doesn’t investigate itself? They cause a problem with their rules/non-rules…then they go after the people that followed the rules they put in place, (albeit) with their usual greed. They will do anything to keep the spotlight off themselves and put it elsewhere.
    We have come a long way from the days of —Part Time, Congress/Senate.
    When are the people in Washington going to get it…our money is ours, not theirs?!? Just leave us alone…that gose for both partys! 27/09.