A Stadium arises in the Bronx

Last week, on the same day as my trip to the Museum of the City of New York, I trekked a little bit further north to the South Bronx. Rare are the days when I find myself at Yankee Stadium without the intention of going to the game, but that’s just what happened on Thursday.

It had been a while since I had checked out the stadium construction progress, and I thought that a vacation day when I’m already most of the way to the Bronx would be perfect. A short ride from 103rd St. dropped me off at that 161st St.-Yankee Stadium stop where I was greeted with a stadium looking much further along than it had been at the end of September when I last went to a Yankee game. With my trusty camera, I snapped a whole bunch of photos, and the slideshow is below.

But first, some highlights. All links open in new windows.

And now the slideshow. The next update on the photos probably won’t be until April now, and I expect a lot of progress in the meantime. I’ll miss the old stadium when it’s gone.


Parking the next aspect of the Great Stadium Swindle


New Yankee Stadium looms over the 4 train platform. With parking prices through the roof, taking the subway is looking ever more appealing. (Photo by Ben K.)

It’s new stadium day on RAB. I’ve got a post of photos from the construction site set to hit later this afternoon at 2 p.m., but first, let’s delve into the ever-popular realm of taxpayer-funded subsidies for Major League Baseball’s richest team.

At the end of November, I looked at how the city is being bilked out of money for the Metro-North station, and it’s no secret that taxpayers are picking up more than their fair share of construction considering initial reports that the Yankees were willing to pay for much of the stadium costs. And of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve looked at parking. We know that it may cost as much as $25 to park at the new stadium. But today’s story is all kinds of special.

Via Juan Gonzalez at The Daily News comes word that taxpayers are going to fund Yankee employee parking at the new stadium. Say what?

The Yankees and hundreds of their VIPs will get free valet parking for the next 40 years, courtesy of New York taxpayers.

The startling revelation of yet another subsidy for the richest team in baseball is buried deep in the fine print of a $237 million tax-exempt bond offering that city officials quietly issued the week before Christmas.

The documents say a $70 million state subsidy for parking improvements for the new Yankee Stadium (slated to open next year) has been earmarked for a new 660-car valet parking garage where virtually all the spaces will be reserved for the free, year-round use of the Yankees and their VIPs.

But wait, there’s more: The total cost of the parking lot project is now $80 million over budget, and the Yankees will receive a total of 600 free spaces for team personnel cars, 120 gameday spaces for private cars of city cops – who could take the subway )Ed. Note: Or they could drive. We have nothing against the cops at RAB.) – and another 130 spots for days without games reserved for, as Gonazlez writes, “city vehicles on ‘official business.'”

While most taxpayers in the City won’t really feel the effects of this hit, fans of the Yankees are in for sticker shock as well. Parking at the new stadium will cost $29 in 2010 and could reach the $35 level by 2014. At this point, people coming to the new stadium just should take the subway or Metro-North. It’s much easier and cheaper to park and ride somewhere than it will be to drive to the South Bronx come 2009.

The city probably won’t recoup the projected $3.2 million in annual parking lot rents until 2014 and even then, Gonzalez and his sources estimate that parking may have to reach around $40 for the lots to realize their full earnings potential. Nothing can really halt this public fleecing right now, but we should hold public figures accountable for deals that harm taxpayers.

Update: I missed the Juan Gonzalez companion piece this morning. The company building the parking lots at Yankee Stadium has a track record of defaulting on payments. In a nutshell, this means that New York taxpayers could be out another few hundred million dollars if the Community Initiatives Development Corporation keeps up its stellar payment track record.

On walkways, new stadiums and political donations

peskywalkways.jpg On and off for the past few months, I’ve assumed the Neil deMause mantle when it comes to the new Yankee Stadium. DeMause, the author of Field of Schemes, an influential book (and blog) detailing sports stadium economics – with a new edition featuring a chapter on New York coming out in April – has long called for an end to taxpayer subsidies for every little detail of sports stadium construction.

I’m on his side. I completely buy into the argument that the economic returns on a stadium do not justify the few-hundred-million-dollar layouts by the cities. Look no further than the Twins. The richest owner in the game is getting a taxpayer-funded stadium when he and the team could easily afford to fit some, if not most, of the bill.

In New York, there are plenty of things that need the taxpayer money, from our infrastructure-challenged subways to our subpar public schools. Two baseball franchies – two of the richest baseball franchises in the sport – don’t need the payouts and tax breaks they’re getting.

All of which brings me to a recent Village Voice story.

Click here to continue this tale of corruption and taxpayer fleecing.

Yanks award $2M construction contract

The old and the new face off against each other across 161st St. (Photo by flickr user Etep)

At some point this off-season, I’m going to grab my camera and head up to the Bronx to snap some shots of Yankee Stadium under construction. It’s been a while since we’ve seen much from the new Stadium, and the most recent photo gallery on Yankees.com is this one from the summer.

But while images are scarce, news is not. The Stadium is supposedly still on pace for an Opening Day 2009 premiere, but I’m growing skeptical. The Yankees recently awarded a new contract to a Canadian firm for $2 million. The contract calls for MQM Enterprises to construct the steel underpinnings that will hold up the stands.

MQM has already completed this work on the Mets’ Citi Field, and I have to wonder if this late date for a new contract means the Yankees are going to have to rush to complete their new stadium. As long as accidents don’t drag down the process as they are with the Mets, I’m sure the Yanks will do anything humanly possible to ready this stadium for Opening Day 2009.