While the Yankees were busy prepping for today’s trip Albany defending their bond request, New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson took the city to task for its handling of the stadium financing deal. Thompson, a potential 2009 mayoral candidate, slammed the incumbent Bloomberg Administration for its handling of the Bronx mega-project.
The Times’ Sewell Chan reported on the Thompson slam for the City Room blog:
The city comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., on Tuesday accused Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the New York City Industrial Development Agency of bungling the negotiations over the new Yankee Stadium, saying the project’s direct cost to the city has skyrocketed to $325 million from $129.2 million as a result of a series of oversights and mistakes.
“While our financial review cannot determine intent, this incredible mismanagement begs the question: Was this plain old incompetence or a blatant attempt to mislead the public?” Mr. Thompson, who plans to challenge the mayor this fall, said at a news conference at which he presented a new audit of the project. “Either way, New Yorkers now have a box-seat view of fiscal mismanagement.”
“The original city capital contribution now has ballooned to $325 million, two and a half times the amount we were told in 2006,” Mr. Thompson said. “With this deal, New Yorkers lose. At a time when we can least afford it, the administration is bending over backward to subsidize an enormously profitable corporation, one that just signed three players to contracts worth a total of $423 million.”
This aspect of the deal has little to do with the Yankees and more to do with the NYCIDA. While one could argue that Bloomberg’s negotiators should have saddled the Yanks with the cost overruns, the truth is that the financially-strapped city did not. It was a bad deal then, but for once, I’m exculpating the Yankees. Grandstanding aside, Thompson is probably write to blame Bloomberg’s Industrial Development Agency for this one.
Of course, a more cynical reader would simply contend that Thompson is currying favor with the voters as he faces a popular mayor running for a third time. The comptroller did, after all, approve the deal in the first place, but that’s New York politics for you. As Jim Dwyer wrote in a column highly skeptical of the 1000 jobs claim and sharply critical of both the Yanks and Bloomberg’s administration for their handling of this deal, it’s basically just business as usual in the Big Apple.