Over the last two years, we’ve talked a lot about the new Yankee Stadium. While the Yankees originally claimed they were footing the bill for construction and that the costs to taxpayers would be minimal, a small but vocal group of writers and analysts attuned to baseball economics disputed this claim.
Today, after politicians have wrung city and team officials through the gamut of some Congressional hearings, The Times offers up an analysis of the rising costs to the public of the new stadiums. For what its worth, the total cost for Yankee Stadium has now ballooned to $1.7 billion, up for an original estimate a few years ago of $1.2 billion. May, how times have changed.
Charles V. Bagli offers up this summary:
As the two stadiums near completion, the cost to taxpayers is anything but small, a review of the projects shows. Though the teams are indeed paying about $2 billion to erect the two stadiums, the cost to the city for infrastructure — parks, garages and transportation improvements — has jumped to about $458 million, from $281 million in 2005. The state is contributing an additional $201 million.
Those totals do not include an estimated $480 million in city, state and federal tax breaks granted to both teams. In addition, neither team has to pay rent or property taxes, though both are playing on city-owned land.
The expanding public cost of the stadiums, coming in another downturn, has fueled debate about their economic benefits, and has become an issue in Congressional hearings in Washington into the use of tax-exempt bonds for stadium construction.
Now, we can debate whether or not, as Yankee and city officials claim, that stadiums spur economic development. While politicians claim they do, most economists agree that stadiums never deliver these promised benefits. What we can’t deny is that, at a time in which the city’s finances are looking rather bleak, the city has given a significant level of money to very wealthy baseball teams, and that’s just not very good government.