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.

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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.

A sobering thought

This photo, an Associated Press shot from Sunday night, could be one of the photos from the last October victory at Yankee Stadium. While I have to believe the Yanks will be back in the playoffs next year, tonight’s loss could be the last ever playoff game in a baseball cathedral that has seen many, many classic moments. The Yanks really have to win next year and send the House That Ruth Built off in style.

deMause: Yanks’ stadium planning charges include bar tabs, $9M in gifts

You know how the Yankees are supposedly paying for their own stadium. Not quite, says Neil deMause in one of the few articles worth reading in the Village Voice these days. According to tax documents, among those items the Yanks asked for reimbursement from the city were crystal baseballs and bar tabs. And that’s just scratching the surface. Read the article. If you care about this obviously ridiculous situation, it’s pretty outrageous.

It’s the [Your Name Here] hot dog stand at Yankee Stadium

Got a few million dollars lying around? Want to stick your name on something at the new Yankee Stadium? Well, boy, do I have a sponsorship deal for you.

According to a Tyler Kepner original in The Times today, the Yankees won’t be selling the naming rights to the new Yankee Stadium. They will, however, be selling the naming rights to everything else you can imagine inside the new stadium.

Now, the Yankees know they are giving up a lot of money to keep the stadium name pure, and ostentatious luxury boxes aside, I like their attitude. “The dollars we passed were incomparable,” Yankees COO Lonn Trost said to Kepner. “Having said that, you wouldn’t rename the White House, you wouldn’t rename Grant’s Tomb and you wouldn’t rename the Grand Canyon. This is Yankee Stadium, and this will always be Yankee Stadium.”

Here’s where it gets interesting:

As they look ahead to the new Yankee Stadium, which will open in 2009, the Yankees have found an alternate way to collect some of the money they might have made from naming rights. They will announce today that they have hired the Creative Arts Agency to market partnerships to corporate sponsors. “It’s an opportunity for a company to partner with the Yankees and say, ‘We support the Yankees’ decision to keep the stadium as Yankee Stadium,’ ” said Mike Levine, the co-head of CAA Sports.

Knowing that, he said, the partnership with CAA will help the Yankees benefit financially by offering expanded sponsorship deals to companies in the new ballpark. Trost and Levine said specific plans were still in development, but there would be no advertising on uniforms, which is against Major League Baseball rules, and Trost stressed the ballpark would not be cluttered with corporate logos.

Currently, much of the Yankee broadcast on TV is brought to you by something or other. (That’s a post for another day, actually.) Nowadays, at the stadium, mostly everything has a sponsor too. The pick-a-song, Yankees DJ feature is brought to you by XM Satellite Radio; the fan marquee is sponsored by Snapple; the Yankees hat tease comes at us courtesy of New Era; and Modell’s gives away gift certificates galore in between innings.

So what’s next? With these new sponsorship deals in place, the upper deck could end up being brought to you by Upper Deck. Maybe the Beers of the World stand will become the Foster’s Beers of the World Stand. And take your pick of toilets: The line at the Geico’s restroom is shorter than the line at the Bank of American bathroom.

Outside of the naming rights, the Yankees will probably set some industry records and rewrite the industry rules in milking money out of sponsorship deals for the new stadium. It will be interesting – if a little sickeningly – to see which company brings every aspect of the new stadium experience to the fans and how they go about branding these sponsorships.

A midtown showroom for the new suites

Why are the Yankees building a New Yankee Stadium? To sell luxury suites. Who are the target customers for these luxury suites? Why, folks who would find a showroom for the suites on Fifth Ave. between 50th and 51st Sts. appealing.

According to Charles V. Bagli of The New York Times, the Yankees are set to open their very own Fifth Ave. showroom of sorts in January. The showroom will feature full-sized models of the luxury suites. What better to woe the suits at NBC and Tiffany & Co. who work in the neighborhood. The Cityroom blog has more:

The team just signed a lease at 45 Rockefeller Plaza, on Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets, for a showroom for the new 51,000-seat stadium now under construction in the Bronx. When it opens in January, potential buyers will be able to walk into a series of plush models of the 57 luxury suites planned for that stadium, which is rising quickly just to the north of the Yankees’ historic home in the Bronx.

Buyers who visit the showroom on the 32nd floor will also get the opportunity to test out a few of the 5,000 to 10,000 wider, more thickly cushioned premium seats that will also go on sale when the stadium opens, presumably for the 2009 season. Premium seats, naturally, have the some of the best views of the action on the field.

Currently, luxury suites at Yankee Stadium sell from $2,8000 to $6,600 a game (or $265,000 to $350,000 for the season). You can bet those prices will head north in a hurry. That is, after all, why the Yankees are building a new stadium and daring to tear down a piece of baseball history.

In the end, I’m not sure if this is more or less disgusting than this pleasant story about Barry Bonds. It certainly is baseball economics on display.