While many consider the Yankee Stadium financing issue to be rather jejune, New York State Assembly representative Richard Brodsky is clearing getting down to business. Yesterday, Brodsky’s committee on corporations, authorities and commissions announced plans for a Wednesday hearing on the stadium funding issue. Today, they broke out their subpoena power, compelling Yankees President Randy Levine to appear tomorrow.
According to the North Country Gazette, the hearing will “inquire into circumstances surrounding the provision of close to $2 billion in taxpayer money for construction of the new Yankee Stadium with particular focus on the city’s attempt to add over $400 million in such assistance.” In particular, Brodsky and Committee Chair James Brennan are going to examine the Yanks’ latest request for a final round of tax-exempt bonds.
“The city’s attempt to ram through this complicated project without disclosure of its implications is not acceptable as the Legislature considers what changes in State law it ought to be making,” said Brodsky. “The hearing will provide info necessary for the Legislative process.”
To get the most out of their testimony, the committee is subpoenaing Levine and NYC Industrial Development Agency Chairman Seth Pinsky. While Brodsky is using the Assembly power to dig into the paperwork behind the bond issue, Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized this move as “politcal theater.”
“I guess it makes for good political theater because it’s the Yankees, but when it comes to valuable taxpayer dollars, decisions should be made on return, not rhetoric,” Bloomberg spokesman Andrew Brent said to the AP. “The deal leverages a federal program and will result in New York City getting back more tax revenue than it will cost and the South Bronx getting thousands of new jobs and more than $1 billion in private investment.”
I’m not too surprised that the Assembly is compelling Levein’s attendance. Since the start of 2009, Levine has appeared on CNBC to defend the stadium and penned a guest column for the Daily News on the same topic. He continues to promote numbers with which many independent analysts have taken issue, and Brodsky, for better or worse, wants to get to the bottom of this issue.