Yanks rehash tired relocation threat

New York Yankees 2009 off-season structure
A-Rod, sans pants, promotes Guitar Hero

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.

New York Yankees 2009 off-season structure
A-Rod, sans pants, promotes Guitar Hero
  • Chris C.

    The Yankees don’t care what the fans think. They don’t even PRETEND to care what the fans think anymore.

  • aaron empty

    If the Yankees ever moved to New Jersey, I would immediately give up my fandom, plain and simple. that would show an incredible disregard for the fans and for the history of the Yankee franchise. it would be baseball suicide.

  • Ed

    It’s the feds that lose out, not the city. These deals usually come with a guarantee that the work is done by companies/workers within the city’s tax jurisdiction, which is far more significant than the tax income from bond interest.

    I would’ve preferred they just stayed in the current stadium, but since they felt the need to get rid of it, moving across the street seems silly. They should have moved to Jersey. About the only advantage is they get to keep the same street address. It’s still in a neighborhood where you only feel safe when surrounded by tens of thousands of fans. And it’s still really inconvenient to get to for the vast majority of their fans.

    • aaron empty

      I WILL NEVER ROOT FOR THE NEW JERSEY YANKEES!

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

      I’m sorry, but you speak these opinions as though they are facts. I’ll start with this.

      They should have moved to Jersey. About the only advantage is they get to keep the same street address.

      The street address when you’re talking about the New York Yankees is rather important. I don’t really care if the Giants and Jets insist on using the moniker New York; those two teams don’t play in New York and haven’t for decades. The Yankees are New York. They’ve played in the same stadium for 85 years and in the city for longer. For them to move would be a grave injustice and insult to New York. They’d lose a lot of fans and a piece of their identity. Some parking lot in New York is not the South Bronx.

      It’s still in a neighborhood where you only feel safe when surrounded by tens of thousands of fans.

      I’m a white Jewish kid from the Upper West Side, and while 15 years ago, I wouldn’t have trekked off to the stadium on my own, I have no qualms with being in that area when there’s no game going on. If people feel that way, it’s because of some outdated stereotype about the neighborhood that just isn’t true.

      And it’s still really inconvenient to get to for the vast majority of their fans.

      Convince me that the Meadowlands are more accessible. You can’t because they’re not. Yankee Stadium is a quick subway ride from Grand Central. It will soon by on a Metro-North line as well. Plus, for people who insist on driving, it’s right off of the Major Deegan. The Meadowlands are in New Jersey, not accessible via any train, and in general, are a real pain in the ass to get to if you’re from anywhere other than New Jersey.

      There’s no way that moving to New Jersey would ever be better than a new Stadium across the street.

      • LiveFromNewYork

        Absolutely agree. I grew up not far from the Stadium and there was a time even 10 years ago when I would not have gone there on a non-game day but things are changing and will continue to change. Unfortunately it’s going to change in the same vanilla way Manhattan has. There goes character in come the Starbucks and Duane Reades.

      • Ed

        The street address when you’re talking about the New York Yankees is rather important. I don’t really care if the Giants and Jets insist on using the moniker New York; those two teams don’t play in New York and haven’t for decades. The Yankees are New York. They’ve played in the same stadium for 85 years and in the city for longer. For them to move would be a grave injustice and insult to New York. They’d lose a lot of fans and a piece of their identity. Some parking lot in New York is not the South Bronx.

        They could move to Manhattan and still be the New York Yankees. And it would be easier to get to for just about everyone not in the Bronx.

        I’m a white Jewish kid from the Upper West Side, and while 15 years ago, I wouldn’t have trekked off to the stadium on my own, I have no qualms with being in that area when there’s no game going on. If people feel that way, it’s because of some outdated stereotype about the neighborhood that just isn’t true.

        It’s a matter of different perceptions. You’re from the city. Most people from Jersey are well aware that the area is a lot better than it used to be, but still aren’t exactly thrilled with it.

        Convince me that the Meadowlands are more accessible. You can’t because they’re not. Yankee Stadium is a quick subway ride from Grand Central.

        I always go from Herald Square, which isn’t that far from Grand Central. I wouldn’t call that a quick trip. It probably averages about an hour. Usually a little better on the way in, a little worse on the way back. And that’s not counting the time waiting for a train.

        The Meadowlands are already accessible by bus lines, and most if not all New Jersey Transit lines pass right by the Meadowlands. There’s already an NJ Transit hub in Seacaucus. It wouldn’t be a big deal to get train service there.

        • Bo

          The whole “keep the same address” thing is pretty damn important.

          They wouldn’t exactly be the Yankees if they played in Newark.

          • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

            They could be the Newark Bears… that name’s available now.

            Seriously, the Yankees would be totally unworkable in Jersey, as Ben stated. Traffic is a bitch, and unlike in other metropolises, there’s serious, serious chokepoints over the river. It’s bad enough for 16 weeks of NFL football; it’d be murder 81 times a year, many of them coinciding with evening rush hour as Jersey residents leave work. In a city like this, baseball teams must remain on the subway line to avoid a deathknell of gridlock. Big Stein may have truly wanted to move to Manhattan, but Jersey has always been an empty threat.

            And as a black kid who’s family has lived in the Yankee Stadium neighborhood since the 1950’s, if you don’t feel safe in the neighborhood, well, then… [i’m trying to think of a nice way to say something and coming up short]… screw you. You don’t like the makeup of the neighborhood, invest some resources here to make it better. We didn’t abandon the neighborhood; everyone else did.

            • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              “And as a black kid who’s family has lived in the Yankee Stadium neighborhood since the 1950’s, if you don’t feel safe in the neighborhood, well, then… [i’m trying to think of a nice way to say something and coming up short]… screw you. You don’t like the makeup of the neighborhood, invest some resources here to make it better. We didn’t abandon the neighborhood; everyone else did.”

              /golf clap

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          “They could move to Manhattan and still be the New York Yankees. And it would be easier to get to for just about everyone not in the Bronx.”

          You were talking about a move to New Jersey, not Manhattan.

          “It’s a matter of different perceptions. You’re from the city. Most people from Jersey are well aware that the area is a lot better than it used to be, but still aren’t exactly thrilled with it.”

          I grew up on the mean streets of Connecticut (now live in NYC), and I feel totally safe when I travel to the Stadium. I don’t know anyone that feels unsafe travelling up to the Stadium for a game. You’re right that it’s a matter of subjective perceptions, but you’re speaking as if your opinion is fact. 4.3 million people, who must have felt safe enough, went to the Stadium this year.

          Re: Accessibility of the Meadowlands vs. Yankee Stadium… Like Ben said, the Stadium is subway accessible and is a short subway ride from either the 125th St. station (for people who take Metro-North from the northern ‘burbs) or from Grand Central. Unless you have a car, the only way to get to the Meadowlands is by bus from the Port Authority. There’s a reason the Devils left the Meadowlands and the Nets are leaving – The only people who find it a convenient location are those who (a) live next to the Port Authority or (b) live in Jersey or Rockland.

          • Ed

            You were talking about a move to New Jersey, not Manhattan.

            I made two points. (1) The current location is bad. (2) My preference was New Jersey.

            Ben’s response implied they couldn’t be the New York Yankees if they didn’t keep the same street address, hence the Manhattan comment. Still would be in NYC but a better location.

            I grew up on the mean streets of Connecticut (now live in NYC), and I feel totally safe when I travel to the Stadium. I don’t know anyone that feels unsafe travelling up to the Stadium for a game.

            Just curious, how do you go? I go by Subway myself, and I’ve never seen a reason to be concerned going that way. But I’ve gone to games with people who prefer to drive there, and every time I’ve seen really dark streets with a bunch of stripped cars on the sides of the road along the way. I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel really uneasy. And it’s not just people trying to take shortcuts cutting through bad areas, it’s the roads the traffic cops direct people to.

            Unless you have a car, the only way to get to the Meadowlands is by bus from the Port Authority.

            As I said before, there’s no reason that has to be the case. There are already train lines to NYC passing right by. Considering the Yankees demanded a new train station be built as part of this stadium deal, there’s no reason to think there wouldn’t have been a train station as part of a NJ deal. And if they did put a station there, it would only be about a 15 minute train trip from Penn Station.

            • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

              “But I’ve gone to games with people who prefer to drive there, and every time I’ve seen really dark streets with a bunch of stripped cars on the sides of the road along the way.”

              Bullshit. If you’ve seen “a bunch of stripped cars on the sides of the road”, you were watching an artificial movie set of New Jersey Drive where they added in prop cars to enhance the “realism”. I’m in this neighborhood daily. It ain’t like that now, and it was never even like that in the ’80’s. Stop exaggerating.

              “Considering the Yankees demanded a new train station be built as part of this stadium deal, there’s no reason to think there wouldn’t have been a train station as part of a NJ deal.”

              You do know that the preexisting Metro North line travels right by the stadium, right? Adding a station to a preexisting line is much easier and much, much, much cheaper than building or extending a line from scratch. So, in order to move to Jersey and make it workable, you not only have to find a suitable spot amidst the swamps and refineries for a stadium and parking lot, but find one that’s in close, close proximity to a preexisting PATH/NJTransit line. Otherwise, instead of the roughly $30M cost of just adding in a station (as Metro North is doing), the state of New Jersey will have to drop probably $200-300M (maybe more) on connecting a new remote location to its grid, from scratch.

              And again, remember the environmental impact of something like this: you’re now adding in 81 days of heavy game traffic on one single commuter light rail line, supplemented by the already heavily congested Lincoln and Holland tunnels (instead of the 4-train, D-train, I-87, I-95, and city streets) designed only to handle outgoing work traffic from Lower Manhattan.

              Jersey was always a pipe dream.

  • A.D.

    If they moved to NJ it would have to be to Jersey City, Hoboken, Newark, or Harrison so they could get PATH access. Otherwise getting to the stadium would be terrible, for the entire fan base, way worse than any complaints current fans could have. As the once a week/8 times a year Jets/Giants fans transport would never work. On top of that don’t see where or why one would want to build a stadium in any of these places.

    Realistically the only place the Yankees could move is Manhattan, and I doubt they’d end up paying less there.

    • LiveFromNewYork

      There’s no place IN Manhattan for a stadium.

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    I’m sure the Yankees never “threatened” Rudy Guiliani with the prospect of moving. The conversation probably went something like this…

    George: “Hey Mayor, I need a new stadium.”
    Rudy: “Sure.”
    Rudy: “Are you at the stadium now?”
    George: ” No. I’m at the Jersey shore, at one of the beach houses.”
    Rudy: “Say Hello to Joan for me”
    George: “Calzone.”

    and….scene.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

      Look, these parades you throw are very expensive. You using my police, my sanitation people, and my Oldsmobiles free of charge.

      So, if you mention extortion again… I’ll have your legs broken.

  • steve (different one)

    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.

    what was an insult? pretending they may have moved?

    where is the insult? the stadium is built already. who cares what Levine is saying now, the Yankees already showed with their actions that they are committed to the Bronx.

    seems like much to do about nothing.

    • Chris C.

      I think the “insult” is trying to get the fans to believe they were ever considering Jersey in the first place. Like we’re just a bunch of schlubs who could have been sold on the notion that Jersey would have presented a bigger and better financial boon for the NY Yankees.

      To insinuate that the Yankess laid out this grandiose relocation plan to the NY politicians, rife with windfalls and endless monetary pipelines that would have come their way while moving to state that wouldn’t even approve funding for them, and the politicians started quaking in their boots is total bullshit.

      What they did was, they found a couple of egotistical suckers in Guiliani and Bloomberg who would never turn down the opportunity to have their name and legacy associated with a spanking new ballpark for the most recognizablt sports franchise in the world.

      The “threat” of the Jersey move was nothing more than a way for the politicians to justify the tax-free bond. So the Yankees get their new Stadium, and Guiliani saved baseball in New York!

      Loyal fans have a right to feel a bit insulted.
      “Yankees vs. Politicians”? Yeah, sure.

  • Bo

    Every team gets a sweetheart deal from the city/state they are in. That’s how it works. Every business gets incentives to base their business someplace. It’s not just sports.

    But bringing up the lame “move to NJ” thing is pretty hilarious from Levine.

    You also got to love do nothing Congressmen who are busy tackling this state issue when they got a few other problems on their plate. Talk about grandstanding. Why don’t they just invite Clemens, McGwire, Schilling, Canseco to figure out why states give teams tax breaks to set up shop and emply thousands of people?

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

      There’s nothing wrong with Congress’ looking into a land deal relating to tax revenue and government bonds. That is, after all, its role as an oversight body. It’s a different beast than the steroid hearings.

      • Bo

        It’s a state issue. Why are they involved in how a state operates and gets business’ to come there and or stay there?

        It’s not like its corrupt or illegal to give incentives and breaks to companies that do business in your state/city.

        • Ed

          No, it is a federal issue. The bonds are exempt from all levels of income tax. You need to meet IRS regulations to issue them.

          The city can put in all sorts of conditions on issuing the bond that make up for the (minimal) taxes they’d lose by making the bonds tax free, but the Feds lose a lot of tax income, hence why they care.

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

          Because if a business (particularly a business that enjoys anti-trust regulation exemptions) is all but extorting municipalities for unethical financial gain, and doing so across state lines, it’s a federal issue, I’d say. The Feds may be the only ones who can put a stop to practices like these.

      • deadrody

        Nothing wrong with it ? Oh please. I don’t think there are numbers big enough to describe just how unbelievably far down the list of priorities this should be for Congress.

        In other words, so far down the list that they should never, ever, EVER get to it.

        Nothing wrong with it ? Good lord.

    • Chris C.

      “But bringing up the lame “move to NJ” thing is pretty hilarious from Levine.”

      It aint the first time from that clown.

  • http://nyyu.blogspot.com Mike

    Ass clown Levine will be out soon anyway. He was brought in because he was a former deputy mayor under Guiliani and has some high level associations in NYC government and financiers.

    Now that the new stadium is s done deal, his usefulness to the Steinbrenners is over.

    Randy Levine swims with the fishes….so to speak.

  • Lanny

    There’s a better chance Kei Igawa wins the Cy Young than the Yankees have moving to Jersey.

  • Januz

    I am glad they stayed and got the stadium. I see so many masochistic Yankee fans who cry over parks, the community, costs, and everything under the sun to vent their displeasure over the new stadium. I have a perfect way for them to be happy…………. Become CUB fans. So what they have 100 years of LOSING, they have a nice ballpark, with Ivy, and a happy community. I am willing to wager that the same people who cry about the POSSIBILITY that the Yankees could move to New Jersey, are the same clowns who oppose Atlantic Yards (And the Nets moving to Brooklyn), and opposed the Jets on the West Side.
    The approach for these people is always the same get Congress involved. I guess there are no serious issues like Bank Bailouts, Iraq War, Unemployment, the Stock Market Crash, Crime and Immigration for Congress to concentrate on?

  • Chris

    Does anyone have a good estimate of how much this would actually cost taxpayers? My understanding is that the taxes would only be on the income (i.e. interest) from the bonds.

    By my estimate, if these bonds are for $1B, and they are at 5% interest, and assume 25% tax on that, then you’re looking at a loss of tax revenue of $12.5M per year – or roughly the income tax collected on Jeter and A-Rods salaries.

  • deadrody

    “…to threaten this non-move is to insult their loyal fans.”

    WHAT-EVER. Levine being dragged before Congress over such BS is an insult to my intelligence. He should have just read from some children’s books, that would be on par with the idiot / moron / jackasses in Congress pulling this kind of douchebaggery.

    Is there anyone on the planet that could possibly wonder why this Congress has the lowest approval ratings in history >

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

      Is there anyone on the planet that could possibly wonder why this Congress has the lowest approval ratings in history?

      Well, their low approval rating probably has something to do with that fact that lots of people don’t know what constitutional duties Congress really has, as evidenced by your illogical rant.

      Last I checked, there are 535 members of Congress. You really think a few hearings (attended by a handful of senators or representatives) conducting due oversight on interstate matters of taxation, banking, finance, and commerce (which is what this is), oversight that they are constitutionally mandated to conduct, is stopping Congress from doing any of the rest of their duties? There’s dozens of Congressional hearings every day, many of them on air pollution or fisheries or wind energy or Southeast Asian tariffs, etc. etc. This issue, which IS IMPORTANT, is taking up a fraction of a percent of the Congressional calendar. And yet, it’s important and right that they investigate, in the interests of the American people.

      The whole “Why is Congress wasting their time on Issue ________” concept is fairly intellectually bankrupt.

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  • Craig

    If there was ever a group that could tout themselves on experts in wasting taxpayers $$$’s it would be Congress.

    While the government (which basically is code for taxpayers) gives AIG $85 Billion and spends months & millions on the steriod hearings (don’t believe anything ever came of that did it?) and the financial markets are in turmoil glad to see that the experts are concerned about something important.

    I’m guessing that the New York congressmen will request season box seat(s) comped to ensure that they can validate their findings.

    What a bunch of Bozo’s!!!!