Archive for Yankee Stadium
The conundrum over the Yankee Stadium parking lots is one I’ve focused on frequently over the past few months. The corporation awarded the rights to run the lots has been struggling financially since early September, and despite looming rate hikes, the Bronx Parking Development Co. is about to default on its bonds.
As Crains New York’s Hilary Potkewitz reported yesterday, the company is in dire straits, and the neighbors aren’t happy. Many in the South Bronx had protested the parking lots surrounding the most transit-accessible stadium in the majors, and residents now aren’t happy. Potkewitz reports:
Bronx Parking Development Co., which runs the garages for the new stadium, faces an April 1 due date for a $6.8 million interest payment on bonds issued to fund construction of three facilities. The company had to dip into reserves to make a similar payment in October, and—barring a last-minute renegotiation—all signs point to a default this time.
A default could set up a seizure by bondholders and would leave the garages’ future in question. The property, which covers some 21 acres, was part of parkland taken over to make way for the current incarnation of Yankee Stadium.
The potential irony has some in the community seething. “Our community loves its parks, and we could always use more,” said Pastor Wenzell Jackson, chairman of Bronx Community Board 4, which includes the stadium and the surrounding area. “Now there’s just empty parking garages that are not benefiting the community.”
With that news in mind, there are of course many questions surrounding the lots. Chief among them is the why of it. Why are Bronx parking lots so empty? According to those who run the Bronx Parking Development Company, the answer is a mixture of supply and demand. The company claims that the lots were, at most, 60 percent full during game days, but those running it also claim that the Gateway Shopping Center has been siphoning off cars for far less.
To park in the stadium lots costs well over $20 a game while Gateway charges under $5. Officials claim that 800 cars per game are taking advantage of the price discrepancy, and thus, the company is raising rates to $35-$45 per car in 2011.
Furthermore, the Metro-North stop has been a hit as well. Bronx Parking executives claim that they are losing money as nearly 4000 fans per game take commuter rail to the stadium instead of their cars. From an urban policy perspective, I believe Metro-North provides a better route to the game than a car does.
So what’s next then? Ruben Diaz, Jr. wants to create artificial demand for the parking lots by building a hotel in the South Bronx. “We’ve been working diligently to bring a top-flight hotel to the area near Yankee Stadium,” the Bronx Borough President said in February. “As many of you have heard, the Yankee Stadium parking lots are facing severe financial problems, and we believe one of the garages could be used for the hotel development.”
Still, others would prefer to see the city cut bait on the parking lots entirely. “The first step should be to reconsider how they’re using these parking lots,” Lourdes Zapata, an official with the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp., said to Crains. “Looking at them exclusively for parking is a shortsighted way of looking at development in this area.”
Of course, New York City’s approach to development around Yankee Stadium has always been shortsighted. The city treated the ballpark as though it were in the suburbs and not amidst three subway lines, a ferry and commuter rail with little need for parking. Now, we’ll all pay the price in reduced public space and much higher parking rates. The lots should go, but for now, the prices will just continue to spike ever upward as fewer drive to the stadium.
A few days ago, someone I know pointed me to StadiumPage.com. The site was first established in 1998, and I’m sure I’ve run across at some point or another while aimlessly browsing the Internet. This time though I dug into the unrealized concepts page and found a treasure trove of material. Included on that page were models of a new Yankee Stadium with a retractable roof, and so let’s hop in the Wayback Machine.
This is a tale that can begin in the late 1980s, the early 1990s or the dawn of the current century. Since the new stadium boom embraced baseball, George Steinbrenner had lusted after a new park. He saw the revenues and sellout crowds in Baltimore and Cleveland and wanted a piece of the action. After all, this was a time before the Yankee Dynasty, before A-Rod, before sellout crowds every night. The 1993 Yankees, in fact, averaged just 29,800 fans per game in a stadium without luxury boxes that could seat nearly 57,000.
As the Yanks won, Steinbrenner’s calls grew louder. He wanted to tap into the unrealized potential that a stadium with its new amenities, fine dining and corporate suites would bring into the Yanks’ coffers. Even after winning four of five World Series, the Yanks’ average attendance in 2000 was just under 38,000 fans per game, and Steinbrenner was quite content to blame it on the stadium.
The Boss knew as well that he had a sympathetic ear in City Hall. Rudolph Giuiliani was an unabashed baseball fan, and he took seriously the Yanks’ idle threats to move to New Jersey. In the mid-1990s, he promised a solution to the city’s baseball teams’ stadium woes, and in 1998, for instance, George Steinbrenner was eyeing the West Side as a new home for the Yankees. HOK had proposed the Hudson Yards area as a perfect site for a $1.06 billion with a retractable roof, and the Boss loved it.
As the late 1990s dragged on, city agencies though started pushing back against Giuliani’s plan. He wanted to give major subsidies to both the Mets and the Yankees for the new stadiums, and the Citizens Budget Committee pushed back hard in 1999. Much to the chagrin of the mayor, they proposed a cap on the city giveaways. Much to the detriment of late-2000s New York City, the CBC would be last major governmental opposition to city subsidies for the two baseball stadium.
By early 2001, Giuliani had yet to come through on his stadium vows, and with his two-term stay in Gracie Mansion nearing an end, he had to act fast. In April, he recognized that his successor wouldn’t be so generous with their grants and vowed to find the dollars before the year ended. ”I think it is good for the city if we get them wrapped up now,” he said, “because I do have a different view than at least some of the people who would like to succeed me.”
In July, stadium rumors reached a crescendo as rumors of a July 4th announcement swelled. As then-Times columnist Murray Chass noted, many in the New York sports world expected the city and Yankees to announce a new stadium, complete with a retractable roof, in the Macombs Dam Park. It did not come to pass.
As the summer wore on, the mayor kept up the pace. A September 9 article made it clear that Rudy was staking part of his legacy on the new stadiums. One opponent spoke out against what he feared would be “a midnight deal that is inherently against the public interest.” Two days later, history intervened, and the stadium issue would escape much public scrutiny until the waning hours of Giuliani’s term.
On December 29, 2001, armed with models complete with retractable roofs, Guiliani, the Yankees and Mets neared stadium deals. For a combined cost to the city of $1.6 billion, the two clubs would build their stadiums where their new homes currently sit today. Each team would receive $800 million in tax-free municipal bonds, and the city would keep various stadium revenues. When the deal became official, Steinbrenner seemed annoyed that he — and not the city — would have to pay for the stadium costs, and the price tag — with roof — was set at $800 million.
These deals rapidly unraveled. Mayor Michael Bloomberg worked to torpedo the deals in 2002 because they were too team-friendly, and he eventually worked out a new arrangement in which the Yanks would front more — but definitely not all — of the costs associated with the construction. Gone from the plans that emerged in 2004 and 2005 was the roof. The Yanks decided to save the $200 million and build an open-air park instead.
When I see the renderings from early 2001 and the plans that emerged, I’m struck by how similar they are. Perhaps I shouldn’t be though. HOK designed the stadium with a roof, and HOK designed the current stadium without a roof. For the most part, they simply took the roof off of their earlier models and changed the outfield configuration. The plan to reimagine and recreate the original look and feel of old Yankee Stadium had been a part of the replacement plans since Steinbrenner got the new stadium itch.
Should we rue the lack of a roof? I know in 2009 a lot of fans were bemoaning the price tag. For one point whatever billion dollars, couldn’t they stick a roof on that thing? But of course, the Yanks saved some money keeping the park roof-free, and they saved the atmosphere of the game. When it comes to baseball outside, I’m a traditionalist. I’ve seen games in a dome, and it’s surreal to watch baseball on a carpet with a roof over your head. Even with the roof open, it hovers over the stands and the field. Furthermore, the space needed for the roof would likely have stretched further into the Bronx parkland. I’m happy to take games in the new stadium without that hulking contraption overhead. The Yankees were too once the city made them pony up the dollars.
As you probably know, the Yankees played in Shea Stadium during the 1974 and 1975 seasons while Yankee Stadium was being renovated. Field level seats ran just four bucks, and although I wasn’t alive back then, that still strikes me as pretty cheap. Anyway, thanks to Craig Robinson of Flip Flop Fly Ballin’ to sharing.
That graphic comes courtesy of Beyond The Box Scores’ Justin Bopp, and it shows AL East attendance figures over the last ten seasons. The Yankees have dominated in this department, accounting for no less than 25% of the division’s total attendance during the last decade. Keep in mind that Fenway Park has a capacity of 37,000 (give or take), while the new Yankee Stadium can accommodate just over 50,000. The ballpark in the Bronx at 85.2% capacity still boasts more people than a sold out Fenway.
Attendance is the root of the money making machine known as the Yankees, because it allows them to sell ad space at ridiculous prices and reap the benefits of the YES Network cash cow. As long as the team remains competitive, attendance will be strong and so will the revenue streams.
As the Yankees designed and built their new stadium, they did so with one overriding goal in mind: The team wanted to capture as much Yankee-related revenue as possible. The old House that Ruth Built was short on souvenir space, and the sports memorabilia and merchandise stores across the street from the old stadium filled that void. The new stadium though features two massive retail stores that better capture dollars fans used to spend along River Ave. and 161st St., and businesses have been hurting outside the stadium.
As WNYC’s Ailsa Chang details, the stores in the surrounding area are seeing precipitous drops in revenue as new human traffic patterns take them out of the neighborhood and into the ballpark. Some stores are reporting revenue losses between 30-60 percent, and the neighborhood could soon be hurting commercially as the new stadium represents a self-contained baseball experience.
There is, however, a twist as some local business leaders say the stadium merchants aren’t adapting to the new multi-use aspect of the ballpark. “The Yankee Stadium venue is a world-class venue, and it’s going to attract world-class events — concerts, football, hockey and the like,” Cary Goodman, head of the 161st St. BID said. “And each of these has a different constituency, and they’re also consumers for different products.”
Yankee Stadium hosts a sporting event this weekend as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish take on the Army Black Knights in the new stadium’s inaugural football game. For the Yanks, this is a key moment for the House that George Built because they need this non-baseball events to be successful to help offset the costs of building the new facility, and early indications are that this game will have more than 51,000 fans in attendance.
If you’re still looking for tickets or thinking about going at the spur of the moment, our partners at TiqIQ have over 360 tickets available, and their numbers show that the game at Yankee Stadium is outpacing the game Notre Dame played against Navy at the new Meadowlands Stadium last month.
Meanwhile, for those bound for the stadium, Metro-North will be running extra trains through the Yankee Stadium stop both before and after the game. The full details for train service are right here.
The Yankees unveiled their 2011 ticket prices this afternoon, and while most prices will not go up, the team announced increases for six price points including the bleachers. While most tickets that are witnessing an increase will go up by $5, the $12 bleacher seats will now cost $15 for both season-ticket packages and single-game sales. The $5 obstructed-view seats will remain as such, and the Yankees are not cutting any ticket prices this year.
Yankees’ COO Lonn Trost spoke this afternoon with Mike Francesa about the rationale behind the ticket increases, and he explained how the team used the secondary market to gauge demand. Since the Yanks routinely saw bleacher seats sold at 175 percent mark-ups, the team determined they could raise the prices and opted for a 25-percent mark-up. The 2011 ticket prices are listed at the Yankees’ website, and I’ll try to summarize the key increases.
While 54 percent of Yankee Stadium seats will still be priced at $50 or less, a good portion of the seats in the lower levels will see increases. In the Main Level, Sections 205-209 and 231-234, prices are increasing by $5 from $45 to $50 for a full season and $50 to $55 for partial ticket holders. Seats in sections 210-212 and 228-230 will rise from $60-$65 for full packages, but partials will stay at $70. Main level seats in sections 213-214b and 226-227b will increase from $75 to $80.
At the field level, rows 12-30 in sections 116-124 will increase to $260 full plan holders. Game-day ticket prices for these seats will increase from $300 to $325. Season tickets for the field level, rows 15-30 in sections 112-113 and 127b-128 and rows 1-14 in sections 108-11 and 129-131 will now cost $110 for a full plan holders and $115 for partial plan holders. Rows 15-30 in sections 108-111 and 129-131 will now cost $80 for full plans.
In addition to the prices that are going up, Trost mentioned that the team will soon be selling ticket packages for multiple seasons that are locked in at the purchase price. For example, fans who buy tickets for three years at the 2011 price point won’t have to pay for price increases in the years that covered by the initial purchase contract.
Of course, no one wants to see ticket prices increase, but Trost’s claims bear out the increase. He says that the Yanks are constantly playing to 95 percent capacity, and even when the seats appear empty on TV, the tickets have been sold. Either fans are no-shows — which happens a small percentage of the time — or they are wandering the stadium. The Yankee Museum, Trost said, has been a very popular in-game destination, and the various bars and restaurants have drawn fans away from their seats as well.
Essentially, the increases are a prime example of ticket economics at work. The Yankees might be increasing their payroll and know that the secondary market supports higher prices. The team wants to and can capture that revenue. Thus, many people will be paying more for their tickets come 2011.
Yanks “expecting a sell-out” for Saturday’s Army/Notre Dame game
During his interview with Francesa, Trost spoke about the debut of college football at Yankee Stadium. Because the new stadium cost so much to build, the Yankees need it to become a year-round venue, and Trost has spent a lot of time working to ensure a smooth game on Saturday. If ticket sales are any indication, he will succeed.
The team has sold 51,000 tickets for the game, and while a few seats remain, the club is “expecting a sell-out.” Astute readers will note that Yankee Stadium’s baseball capacity is under that 51,000 mark, and Trost says they’ve added seats by installing temporary bleachers in the bullpens and on the field. For those heading to the game, Metro-North is running extra trains as well.
While browsing YouTube this morning, I came across this piece of Yankee Stadium history. It’s a video shot on Super 8 from the mid-1970s showing the old stadium in various stages of renovation. The opening scenes show the skeleton of the Tier rising above the original 1923 shell.
A good portion of RAB readers weren’t alive when the House that Ruth Built underwent renovations 36 years ago, and the lasting memories those of us who grew up with the Yankees in the 1980s have are of the post-renovation stadium. Despite the history we witnessed at Yankee Stadium II, many fans maintained that the renovations ripped the soul out of the historic park. The dimensions and atmosphere changed, and while the ghosts lingered, their shadows dimmed.
The video tracks the renovations, and after the five minutes elapsed, I grew mournful of the old home. The team and its fans have fully embraced the new ballpark, but I’ll always have the memories of old Yankee Stadium even as the ballpark fades from the physical landscape of New York City.
We originally posted this video early today on the RAB Bullpen. That’s our new Tumblr account, and we’re using it to highlight random Yankee tidbits, photographs and articles that we find across the web. Add it to your RSS feed and follow us if you’re on Tumblr.
Yankee fans who opt to drive to the Bronx next season may find themselves in for a new round of sticker shock. Due to lower-than-expected revenue and the looming threat of default on a bond payment, Bronx Parking Development, the owner of the stadium parking garages, will raise parking rates as much as 50 percent for the 2011 season. Barring an off-season restructuring of the parking lot bonds, a spot in the lots will now cost at least $35 while the valet option will reach $45.
It never made much sense for the city of New York to surround Yankee Stadium with parking lots. Because of the fast, easy and cheap access provided by the IRT and IND subways, relatively few Yankee fans drive to the games as it is, and the new Metro-North stop made transit access that much easier (and cheaper). Yet, even though on-street parking remained an option and the rates at the Gateway Shopping Mall lots are just $10, the city expanded the number of stadium spots from 6500 to 9127 against the wishes of Bronx politicians and community leaders.
The move has been a debacle from the start. This year, for instance, when the Red Sox were in town, BPD reported just 5600 paid costumers. To add insult to injury, New York selected a company with a history of defaulting on bond payments to build the lots.
Last month, I reported that BPD was facing a revenue crisis. Because the company saw just $4.8 million in revenue — half of its initial estimates — BPD was in danger of defaulting on its payments. Parking rates would inevitably have to increase for 2011, and as Juan Gonzalez reports today, that is exactly what’s going to happen. He reports:
Even at [$35 per car], the garages will still fall into a technical default unless two-thirds of bondholders agree to waive some requirements in the original construction bonds.
Bronx Parking barely managed to make a $6.8 million bond payment that was due Oct. 1 and will likely not have enough cash to make its next $6.8 million due in April. Without the waiver, the company warned, it will be forced to charge a minimum of $55 per car next year to avoid a default.
“The truth of the matter is, the whole thing’s a mess,” said one financial adviser to several bondholders. “If the city doesn’t step in, there’s no way Bronx Parking can pay back the money it took to build those garages.”
This story just gets messier and messier as it progresses. The city’s Economic Development Corporation seemingly flushed taxpayer money down the drain in selection Bronx Parking Development as well. They granted the company $237 million in tax-free bonds and gave it $100 million as well. This is money we’re likely never to see returned to New York’s empty coffers.
For now, the bondholders are struggling to restructure the company’s finances in order to avoid a default, but as Gonzalez points out, higher rates will do nothing to stem this financial bleeding. As parking rates go up, more and more fans will choose to reach the stadium via transit.
Bronx officials meanwhile are urging the city to correct this project’s deep flaws. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz wants the city to sell off the excess garage space for “other development projects” that will better benefit the South Bronx area. Said one Bronx politician to the Daily News, “We don’t need a wasteland of empty garages in this borough.”
Lost in all the chaos of yesterday’s press conferences, the Yankees are re-sodding the infield. A few of the beat writers were snapping photos of what you see above and posting them on Twitter. From what I understand, the entire diamond – the grass surrounding the pitcher’s mound – is completely gone as well after today’s work. I”m not sure if the outfield will follow. They might just be replacing the high traffic areas, plus the outfield was re-sodded a few weeks after the Cotto-Foreman boxing match tore it up in June. Still no word if they’re going to fix the warning track though.
Anywho, here’s your open thread for the evening. No baseball, football, or (local) hockey tonight, but it’s Opening Night for the NBA. TNT is carrying the Heat and Celtics at 7:30pm ET, then the Rockets and Lakers three hours later. Go ahead and talk about that, or whatever else is on your mind.