City officials pushed for free suiteBy
According to e-mail uncovered via a Freedom of Information Act request, New York City officials applied a full-court press on the Yanks to earn the free use of a luxury suite at the new Yankee Stadium.
In the grand scheme of New York City politics, this news is hardly shocking, but it is just one more example of the close and, at times, inappropriate relationship between the city and a team that had once promised to build the stadium with little help from the public. The Times’ David W. Chen has more:
The Bloomberg administration was so intent on obtaining a free luxury suite for its own use at the new Yankee Stadium, newly released e-mail messages show, that the mayor’s aides pushed for a larger suite and free food, and eventually gave the Yankees 250 additional parking spaces in exchange.
The parking spaces were given to the team for the private use of Yankees officials, players and others; the spaces were originally planned for public parking. The city also turned over the rights to three new billboards along the Major Deegan Expressway, and whatever revenue they generate, as part of the deal.
The e-mail messages between the aides to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Yankees executives were obtained and released by Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, Democrat of Westchester, who questions whether taxpayers were adequately protected in the city’s deal with the team.
Mr. Brodsky said what emerges from the e-mail correspondence is a sense of entitlement ingrained in Bloomberg officials. He said that the city appeared to be pushing for use of the suite for not just regular-season games, but for the playoffs and the World Series, and for special events like concerts, too.
“There’s this ‘Alice in Wonderland’ quality to the question of, what is the public interest here and who’s protecting it?” said Mr. Brodsky, who conducted a hearing on the issue of public financing of sports stadiums this summer. “We can’t find the money for the M.T.A., or schools, or hospitals, and these folks are used to the perks and good things of life, and expect them.”
The e-mails themselves — available as PDFs in the Daily News article — are fairly benign. In typical back-room politics fashion, the Yanks balked at offering the suites while the government officials threatened to withhold whatever the Yanks may have needed from City Hall. In the end, everyone got what they wanted except the taxpayers.