Jan
14

NYC Comptroller slams Stadium plan

By

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.”

[snip]

“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.

Categories : Yankee Stadium

27 Comments»

  1. I thought Bloomberg wasn’t allowed to run again and the extending term limits thing got blocked?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, I’m not entirely familiar with NY politics.

  2. Jon W. says:

    We may be outraged and the like (I certainly am), but the one thing we shouldn’t be is surprised. Politicians will always try to use as much of our money as they can to benefit themselves and their friends. You may like Bloomberg more than the alternatives, but he’s just as dirty as anyone.

  3. UWS says:

    Jejune.

    /Overdone?

  4. huuz says:

    Ben,

    You’ve been quite persistent w/ posting these stories regarding the stadium financing. What is your objective in doing so? Merely reporting news, or do you have a position that you’re trying to assert? I’m not being snarky, here, I’m genuinely curious as to what your goal is in this matter.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Ben K. says:

      My position is that the Yanks aren’t paying enough of the costs for the stadium and that the city did not negotiate a good enough deal. While Thompson seems shocked by that latter development, it’s not a surprise to anyone who’s been following this since the start.

      Basically, in my opinion, it’s a good government issue. Did we the New York public get the best deal possible? I think the answer to that is no, but I understand the arguments for public financing of sports arena. I’m in favor of a smart balance.

      • huuz says:

        Philosophically I’m in complete agreement with you, Ben. I don’t think it is good governance to subsidize major corportations (Yankees, oil industry, auto industry, financials, etc.).

        However, the (unfortunate) reality is that this is how things are right now–our government funds major corporations w/ our tax dollars. If the Yankees don’t take advantage of this reality, they are allowing their competitors to gain on them (e.g. other MLB teams who get tax dollars for their stadiums).

        So in principle, I say the government shouldn’t be giving hand-outs to the Yanks; but in practice the Yanks should grab for every last penny they can squeeze out of the government.

        It is a mess.

      • Ed says:

        If you could change the deal, what would you do differently?

        And how would you justify it to the Yankees, who are already paying far more than any other team in recent years has for a stadium?

  5. Bo says:

    The Comptroller is running for mayor and is using this to try to gain political points???/

    No way!

  6. Steve S says:

    Ben I blame you for all of this, you and a couple obscure columnists were talking about this and now it has become a big deal.

    Seriously though, I heard Brodsky this morning on WFAN, he did a nice job of breaking things down (not exactly objective).

  7. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    Ben, you should run for Mayor.

  8. Ed says:

    The Jim Dwyer article is somewhat amusing…

    The rest are seasonal positions — valuable, certainly, but only if they really exist.

    And what if the team doesn’t create 1,000 new jobs? Does the city have any mechanism to hold the team accountable, to get back some of its investment?

    Summary: I don’t think the Yankees are really going to create 1,000 new jobs because otherwise I’d have nothing to complain about.

  9. BklynJT says:

    These politicians need to STFU about the Yankees. All bias aside, if the Yankees were to leave NYC for a jersey resident, they would get the same deal that NYC is giving them, and NYC would lose plenty of revenue from jobs, sales tax, money reinvested in the NY economy, etc etc etc. Sport franchises are one of the reason this city is so damn great, and as unfortunate and unfair as it may seem to people, because they are so important to the ongoing economic stability of this city, they will get breaks here and there that smaller business are not entitled to. That is just the way government and economics works.

    All this complaining, especially from people who had no objections to the deal, are just posturing for air time and publicity.

    • The Yankees moving to Jersey was never a realistic threat. The simple logistics of getting fans in the city over the Hudson River 81 times a year at the tail end of weekday rushhour makes it a practical non-starter. The team constantly threatens to move to Jersey, but those threats are the most idle threats you or I have ever heard of.

      They were never leaving the Bronx, stadium or no stadium.

      • Ed says:

        Back when the threats were being made in the early 90s, the studies were all showing that the vast majority of the fan base was coming from NJ.

        That’s not the case anymore though, so it’s a very different story now.

        • Mike @ NYYU says:

          From NY Times, October 2008:

          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!”

          Nobody thought the Giants would move to NJ either…or the Jets. Bluff called.

          • Ben K. says:

            To put it bluntly, Randy Levine was full of crap in October, and he’s full of crap in January. The Yankees used New Jersey as a threat, and while I can’t find the source right now, New Jersey officials have said as much over the last few years. They had neither the political will, capital or space to erect a baseball stadium in New Jersey, and the Yanks were never going to move from the Bronx of New York City after drawing more than 16 million fans over the last four years.

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