While the Yanks’ Friday visit to Congress resulted in nothing too exciting, the Yankees did trot out an old excuse about their new stadium. As Richard Sandomir reported, the Yanks would have moved if they hadn’t gotten a sweet land deal from New York.
Randy Levine, the president of the Yankees, told a Congressional hearing Friday that if the city had not issued tax-exempt financing for the team’s new stadium, it would have left town.
“It’s been no secret for many years” that the team would move if it could not save tens of millions of dollars on financing with tax-free bonds, Levine told the House subcommittee on domestic policy. He added: “There was no shortage of suitors. We see ourselves as a paradigm in professional sports.”
Levine refused to be specific about the other suitors, but when asked after the hearing if New Jersey has wooed the Yankees in recent years he said, “Absolutely!”
Yet again, the Yanks have trotted out this strawman New Jersey argument. For the better part of 14 years, the Yanks have used New Jersey and the Meadowlands as a leveraging tool, and it’s been nothing more than that.
Twenty years ago, New Jersey rejected a measure to fund a potential baseball stadium ostensibly for the Yankees, but George Steinbrenner still used the spectre of New Jersey to threaten Rudy Giuliani throughout the 1990s. More recently, as Sandomir notes, the Yanks have had no contact this decade with Meadowlands officials.
At this point, the Yanks and the City aren’t going to admit any wrong-doing with this questionable land deal, and the City’s coffers will probably never get the money it should have. But the Yanks should really stop trotting out this New Jersey threat. With four million fans making the trip to the Bronx each year, the Yanks aren’t about to decamp to an inaccessible site that isn’t even in New York, and to threaten this non-move is to insult their loyal fans.