Wrapping up the Stadium hearings

Open Thread: Tex vs Youk
Todd Drew, 1967-2009

With Yankee President Randy Levine’s tardiness in responding to his subpoena kicking things off yesterday, the New York State Assembly’s Yankee Stadium hearings were unfriendly and downright tense. There were some nasty back-and-forths between Levine and Seth W. Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, on one side, and Assembly Member Richard Brodsky on the other.

For solid coverage of the hearings, check out Neil de Mause’s running journal of the proceedings at The Village Voice’s Runnin’ Scared site (Part 1, Part 2), and I highly recommend reading through it if this issue interests you. De Mause clears up some questions many RAB readers have had about the funding mechanisms and who is paying for what.

Meanwhile, few conclusions emerged from these hearings The Yankees, it seems, have not been completely transparent with their numbers but neither has the city. It also remains unclear whether someone did something wrong, who has the power to penalize anyone, who would be penalized and what the punishment would be. Now that New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson has thrown his hat into the mayoral ring, I’m sure we’ll be hearing from him on the stadium issue again as well as Brodsky and perhaps Congress. The IDA vote on the bonds will go on as scheduled tomorrow, and I expect them to be approved.

Open Thread: Tex vs Youk
Todd Drew, 1967-2009
  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    Just as long as they finish on time, at this point…

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Even that doesn’t matter. They’ve built in a big enough buffer such that if the project is six weeks late, it will still be ready before Opening Day.

      • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

        Hey, works for me!

        (this is like the twentieth time I’ve responded to your comment with that line, btw…)

  • Januz

    I really follow this issue very closely, and there is no question, that I have been a strong supporter of this project, which goes against the grain of current public opinion. There is a very logical reason for this. There were essentially five possible outcomes: 1: They remain at Yankee Stadium, as is. 2: The renovate the Stadium like the did in the 1970s. 3: They move to New Jersey. 4: They build a cheaper new stadium (Such as they are doing in Minnesota with the Twins Stadium). 5: The state of the art facility the Bronx is getting. I will say Jersey was the least likely option, but this new ownership is very different than George Steinbrenner, so it could never be ruled out. The renovation option is a false choice because structurally the steel supports goes back to the 1920s, and no one wants to risk a future collapse (Say in 25 years (See Tiger Stadium in Detroit)). That fear is very real when it comes to insurance companies, attorneys, and politicians (Not just the Yankee ownership). Do nothing, and make few changes. That was a real alternative, and favored by many in this blog.
    The problem, of course goes to fairness. If the Mets would get a new stadium (And the ability to maximize their profits). why not the Yankees and vice versa?Next we come to the cheaper stadium option vs The state of the art facility. This is perhaps the worst choice (After New Jersey). Quoting Neil de Mause’s “Field of Schemes. http://www.fieldofschemes.com………... public – city, state, and federal taxpayers – are now covering just shy of $1.2 billion, by far the largest stadium subsidy ever. In fact, even discounting the $417 million in property-tax breaks (if you’re inclined to agree with Lieber), it’s still the largest stadium subsidy ever. The Yankees, meanwhile, would be on the hook for just $670 million, after counting property-tax breaks…………Mets project is comparatively thrifty: a mere $830 million, though even that shatters the old record for priciest baseball park. Because it’s cheaper, though, and the Mets demanded many of the same tax breaks as the Yankees, the team’s total cost at the end of the day is astonishingly low: just $135 million, thanks to a panoply of givebacks that include property-tax breaks, parking-fee rebates, and revenue-sharing deductions courtesy of MLB. The rest is paid predominantly by – you guessed it – you the taxpayer, providing you’re a taxpayer somewhere in the U.S. of A…………. There it is, the Yankees are spending HALF A BILLION more than the Mets to upgrade their stadium (Just like when they brought CC, AJ, & Tex to NY for $473m). I am not going to say they do not want to make $$$$$$, that is not true. But they are not putting it back into their wallets like the Wilpons are (Guess why Manny and (Or) Derek Lowe are not going to be at Citi Field playing FOR the Mets?).
    Finally, I respect the position of Ben, Neil and others, who are against this on philosophical grounds ( That is a very different argument, than is made by Brodsky (With his support for horse racing (Another SPORT)), and the Yankee HATERS, who want the Yankees in the same position of the Islanders (These jerks I will leave nameless)). I simply support the Steinbrenners, who want to put the best possible product out there for everyone: From the Stadium, to the players and I commend them for it (Particularly in such trying economic conditions).

    • Chad

      I got a headache.

  • Rob S.

    I haven’t heard too much about any supposed “wrong doing”. I thought the argument was that it was a bad deal for the city and a burden for the taxpayers. You will not get any clear answers from contentious procedings such as this. It is political theater and numbers can be bent and twisted to suit someone’s agenda. I hope everyone read the editorial entitled “Brodsky’s Baloney” in Wednesday’s New York Post. It pretty much cleared up any questions that I had. The city will lose about 18 milion in tax revenue over the course of decades but tax breaks for development is commonplace. What really surprised me is that although the Yankees are paying for the ballpark the city will acrually end up owning it. I really think this whole thing is the result of political grandstanding and a knee jerk reaction to the Yankees off season spending combined with the stadium project in the midst of a tough economy. Any way you slice it though NYC is going to make out on this deal. Yankee Stadium will bring far more money into the city than it will take from it. This place is a cash cow and the city stands to get a large piece of it. Don’t get drawn in by all this nonsense. I can’t wait for baseball games rather than political ones.

  • Chad

    It’s pretty obvious that Brodsky is a grandstander who loves getting 15 min on the FAN and getting mentioned on ESPN. It’s also obvious that Thompson is a terrible politician who is trying to make this a center piece of a mayoral race. Which is lunacy.

  • Anthony

    I try not to listen to, watch, or click on WFAN (W M-E-T) and ESPN TV and webpage. I think all Yankee fans should do the same.

  • HC

    Every day I get more and more disillusioned by media, politics, and, most of all, fellow citizens who are either too stupid or- more likely- too lazy to understand an important issue. Thank God for the internet because it allows you to do your own research and better understand an issue. Not one paper has done a decent breakdown and analysis of this deal. It seems to me that when they report about all the property taxes The Yankees aren’t paying they blatantly ignore the fact that no NY team, or no team anywhere else as far as I can tell, pays property taxes. In fact, the property taxes referred to by the intellectually dishonest Brodsky is the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) payment The Yanks will be making on their bonds- this is pure semantics.

    If The Yankees built the stadium next to the Jets and Giants in The Meadowlands how much more money would NYC have in their budget? They would likely have less- they’d still have to pay for demolition of the old stadium and would no longer be receiving rent payments or tax money from The Yankees profits, the players, and all of the businesses around Yankee Stadium and throughout NY who benefit from the teams existence.

    The “land value” is a completely random number used to qualify for the PILOT program. Yes, with The Yankees in the stadium the value of the land (and surrounding land) is very high compared to what it would be otherwise. But suppose The Yanks are playing in NJ- what value does that tract of land have in the poorest Congressional district in NYC? Recall, the Yankees actually play in a real urban area around real urban people- not in a suburban parking lot in Queens. There are more benefits to the community as well as a higher cost of construction.

    If you’re The Mayor who has to make a deal with the team you’re thinking: I know the land is extremely valuable with the team there and I need to keep the team there or else the land is worthless; there is also this Federal program for infrastructure and community investment that allows organizations to raise money at a lower rate because the interest payments are tax free. For PILOT we’ll say that the taxes on the land would be high (since if they get the bonds it means the team will be there and the only way this project gets done is with PILOT financing) and we’ll sell the land to The Yankees at the market rate assuming The Yankees are not there (because, until the project is complete, that is the real value to anyone but The Yankees).

    This is total nonsense other than the fact that govt agencies should not decide who gets what kind of financing. Since we have