Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A question about jobs created by a new Yankee Stadium

Question: Won't building a new Yankee Stadium create a lot of jobs for the community and have a positive impact on the local economy?

Bob Trumpbour's (of Friend of Yankee Stadium) answer:

New stadium advocates commonly decide to count the temporary jobs that would be created by constructing a new stadium. That is the easiest one to publicize since these are typically well paying jobs, rather than the low paying temporary food vendor and parking attendant positions that might pad the job estimates if the increased concession areas result in more hot dogs and drinks being sold than in an older stadium with narrow concourses and less vending space (such as Yankee Stadium).

However, the claim that jobs are "created" for new construction is somewhat of a red herring. First, they are temporary jobs that will go away as soon as construction is finished. But more importantly, they are jobs that could be created by replacing ANYTHING in an urban environment.

For example, we could knock down the Statue of Liberty every ten years or so and replace it with a "new and improved" Statue of Liberty. The unending cycle of new construction would certainly create construction jobs, but the real question would be, would a new Statue of Liberty attract new dollars from out of the region, since that is the best way to determine whether real long-term economic progress has been made? My hunch is that, like Yankee Stadium, some economic activity would come to the new Statue of Liberty initially (probably out of curiosity at the kitch factor), but the long term impact would be tempered by the knowledge that this is not the same emotionally powerful structure that so many immigrants first saw when they entered into America.

In the same vein, out-of-region fans would realize that the new ballpark in New York is not very different, other than the team logos and possibly nuanced differences in interior color schemes, floor surfaces, and concession facilities, than the same newer ballparks that you can find in most other cities. I suspect that after a visit many would say "it was a nice experience, but it's pretty close to what we've got here in Cincinnati, so I'll take a rain check on a future New York ballpark visit unless I happen to be in town for another reason and feel like seeing a Yankees game."

This does not mean that the Yankees will not make more money from a new ballpark, however. I suspect they might sell more concession product and make considerably more from skybox revenue and other things, but more of it would likely come from New York metropolitan residents after the "novelty effect" wears thin and tourists feel less inclined to stop by the Bronx.

When analyzing this, "unit of analysis" is important. If the city argues that folks from Jersey, Long Island, and places outside the city will enhance the revenue position of the city with increased merchandising revenues, then they might be right, but if the money remains in the metropolitan area and is cycled within the metropolitan area only (if out-of-region tourist dollars drop with the new facility), then NYC may gain a little and Jersey and nearby New York counties might lose a little, but overall, no real economic growth will have occurred for the larger metropolitan area.

In short, the spending will be a wash for the metropolitan area, as people have a limited amount of money to spend on entertainment. If someone spends more lavishly at a Yankees game, they might economize and instead of going to a swanky upscale restaurant near their home and a comedy club later in the week (since their budget won't allow for it), they will send out for pizza and rent a movie for an evening.

Monday, August 29, 2005

A question about the enormous size of the proposed Yankee Stadium

Question: The footprint of the proposed Yankee Stadium is vastly larger than the present stadium. Although it would be so much larger than the old one, the proposed stadium would actually seat fewer fans. What exactly makes it so much larger?

Neil deMause's (of Field of Schemes) answer:

Mostly it's luxury boxes and concessions space. It doesn't take much room to set up a hot dog griddle; if you want pizza ovens and deli counters and the like, however, suddenly you need something close to a full-service kitchen, and there's no room for that in the current Yankee Stadium.

The way the Red Sox are dealing with this with the renovation of the much smaller Fenway Park is to shift the kitchen facilities into the building next door, with the food being brought over to stands in the park proper. There's no reason the Yankees couldn't do something like this, except that they would rather have an all-new place.

Another issue is that old stadiums like Yankee generally have the decks stacked on top of each other. In new ones (including Steinbrenner's proposal), the upper decks are set back, partly so that the people in the lower decks don't have their view of the sky obscured, partly to make room for more luxury boxes and "club seats" (season tickets that are sold like luxury boxes). It doesn't take much geometry to realize that this creates a *much* bigger stadium footprint -- and, as a side benefit, more concessions space underneath the set-back upper deck.

Finally, all that space is so that the Yankees can bring all the souvenir sales, food sales, bag checks, etc. inside the gates so that they're getting the money, not Stan's or the Spiral Fries Deli or whatever. New stadium design is geared to ensure that every penny spent by fans goes to the team, not to any merchants in the surrounding neighborhood.

For an even more complete analysis, including a diagram to show the difference in size between the two stadiums, click the above headline to be taken directly to the Field of Schemes website.

Bloomberg: "We don't have a lot of parkland in New York City, and I think a lot of people would probably object."

Bloomberg thinks a stadium in the park is a bad idea! Yeah! Great news, right?

Unfortunately, that's how he feels about a Jet Stadium in Flushing Meadows Park. He doesn't seem to feel the same way about Yankee Stadium and Macombs Dam Park. That seems okay to him.

In a Reuters article titled "NYC mayor doubts Queens park would do for Jets" "New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg cast doubt on the latest plan to bring the Jets football team home from New Jersey, citing likely objections to building on parkland in the borough of Queens." (Click headline to read) The article continues:

"Noting that the state would have to approve letting the Jets build on Flushing Meadows Park, Bloomberg, on his weekly radio show, added: "I'd love to have them in the city. Whether that's the right place, we'll have to see.

"We don't have a lot of parkland in New York City, and I think a lot of people would probably object."

"The Republican mayor, however, has supported the Yankees baseball team's plan to build a new stadium in the Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx. A mayoral spokesman was not immediately available to explain the mayor's different approach to the two teams."

It should be pointed out that Flushing Meadows is muuuuch larger than Macombs Dam, thus should more readily be able to absorb a stadium. Also, a stadium in Queens would not so negatively impact a residential community as one will in the Bronx.

So why the double standard, Bloomberg? What is different about the people in Queens that makes you so worried about their objections?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Curtis Sliwa rejects new stadium plan

A major difference between what NY1 reported on air yesterday and on the web today is that on air they had a soundbite from Curtis Sliwa, of the Guardian Angels, saying the plan to tear down Yankee Stadium is a disgrace. He actually says it in both English and Spanish, so there can be no mistaking his feelings! Doesn't he have a radio show? Someone should call in to talk more about it with him.

NY1 reports on yesterday's rally

NY1 in its report on yesterday's rally says

"City Councilmember Maria Del Carmen Arroyo says the construction is long overdue and will mean thousands of jobs – but many residents say they're nervous about a possible onslaught of traffic."

Construction long overdue? How is that? Does she mean that it has been a while since there was a new building constructed in the area? What about the new courthouse? And should we build simply to build? And pave our parks in the process?

And let's be clear: these are construction jobs that will disappear after the stadium is built. Then we will have the same jobs that we already have at the present stadium, except we will probably lose the jobs held by the independent souvenir shops on River Avenue.

But Geneva Causey had a good point:

"I don't want Yankee Stadium's four lanes of traffic (visible) from my bedroom," said resident Jeanine Causey. "I don't want all the traffic on the avenue, I don't want a garage on the same block where I live. If you build a garage there will be more traffic, more people. It's terrible as it is."

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Today's rally

Went pretty well. It was nice to meet up with our neighbors on such a beautiful summer morning.

There was a lot of press there. Maria del Carmen Arroyo was there. She's the daughter of the Assemblywoman who sponsored the bill which alienated the park. I rudely and incorrectly attacked her for sponsoring the bill. My bad.

But, still. She has a lot of gall defending her efforts to try to work with community when it was her MOTHER who sold us out!

Press coverage of last Wednesday's conference

Our friends at the Neighborhood Retail Alliance have a roundup of the coverage in the press. Check it out by clicking the headline above.

Taking parkland in Queens? Problematic. The Bronx? Not so much.

As reported in the Daily News (click headline above for article):

"Queens Borough President Helen Marshall wants the Jets to come to Queens and she doesn't mind sacking one of her
own parks to make the point. Mayor Bloomberg said giving up city parkland to build a stadium would be a tough
decision; Marshall said no one would miss the swath of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in question."

So building a stadium in parkland in Queens causes soul searching, while in the Bronx there doesn't seem to be any at all. Well, apparently in Queens the park is a dump:

"I went to the site," said Marshall, who represented the area around the park during her years in the City Council and
the state Assembly. "This is the Fountains of the something or other. It is really now just a big, big pool of stagnant
water, with garbage thrown in."

*Sigh* Yeah, some of our parks have seen better days.

"Bloomberg, who prides himself on the city's spruced-up parks, bristled at Marshall's description of the site.

"There'll be somebody there this afternoon," he said yesterday, while the two stood together at a ribbon cutting in
Rockaway. Sure enough, by late afternoon the once-brackish fountain sparkled.

Huh?! Gee. And to think we have money alloted to fix up our Macombs Dam Park which isn't being spent because they are going to build a stadium there. Makes you think.

"Bloomberg has yet to weigh in specifically on the Jets' proposal for Queens. "I'd love to see the Jets play in Queens. I'd
love to see the Jets play anyplace in New York rather than across the river," Bloomberg said. "The alienation of parkland
is clearly going to be very controversial and something that has to be looked at."

So, from Bloomberg's perspective:
stadium on parkland in Queens = contoversial.

In the Bronx? Not.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

David Gratt's speech from yesterday's press conference

My name is David Gratt. I live around the corner and I represent a group called Friends of Yankee Stadium. We are a Bronx based group comprised of residents, baseball fans and preservationists. We have been asked to join this conference to express the following:

We believe that this neighborhood, the Bronx, and the rest of the City are all better off if Yankee Stadium is renovated, not demolished and rebuilt across the street.

While we do not oppose development in the South West Bronx, we do oppose insensitive development that favors developers and ignores local residents. The proposal for a New Yankee Stadium is just such an example of this development.

For 20 years, the Yankees have played up inadequacies of Yankee Stadium and the Bronx, and talked numerous times about moving to Manhattan or New Jersey.

Now, their lease is up and they have no place to go. They can't move to midtown. They can't move to New Jersey. But instead of working with them to insure the best deal for everyone, many of our legislators are giving the Yankees everything they want, to our detriment.

The Yankees say, "We need to build a new stadium."

So our state legislators, on a day at the end of the legislative session when hundreds of bills were passed, removed the protections insuring that Macombs Dam and Mullally Parks would remain undeveloped in perpetuity.

Our legislators decided that it was in our best interest to free for development a parcel of land 40% bigger than that of the World Trade Center. This was not done to promote a public good, but to enrich a private business.

Is there any chance that this would have happened in Manhattan below 96th Street or in Brownstone Brooklyn?

Of course not.

But why do the Yankees need a new stadium?

They say, "We need a new stadium to remain competitive." But the Yankees are the richest team in Major League Baseball and play in the largest and richest media market in the country.

They are the second richest sports franchise in the world.

They handle one of the most famous brands in the world.

They will come close to attracting 4 million people to the ballpark this year, a figure exceeded only 4 times in baseball's history.

They are among the league leaders in stadium revenues and made $67 million on concessions sales last year.

The Yankees say, "We need a new stadium because our rivals have them." But our evil arch enemies, the World Champion Boston Red Sox have decided to stay put, in their old, crowded, character filled 1912 stadium, which, when renovated, will still have 14,000 fewer seats than Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees say, "Yankee Stadium is so old." But the Statue of Liberty is old, and no-one says that we should tear that down and replace it with a new one. Grand Central Terminal is old, and that was just renovated and restored and looks beautiful. All over this city, and all over this country, important, historic, majestic buildings are renovated and restored and their communities are stronger because of it.

Is New York City a better place because Penn Station was torn down? No! And it will not be a better place if Yankee Stadium is torn down.

The Yankees say, "We'll pay for a new stadium." But the Yankees want the city, state and federal government, to pay for new parking garages, to move parks, and to forgo rent and taxes to the tune of more than $400 million dollars.

Simply put, the Yankees do not need a new stadium, and they don't need our money. Many of the improvements that they propose can either be incorporated into the existing facility, or can be developed independent of a new stadium.

Of course, there is another way.

The current stadium was renovated once into a 'state of the art facility' and it can be renovated into a state of the art facility once again.

Furthermore, a renovated stadium would not result in 5 years of construction dust and debris.

A renovated stadium would not require that park land be violated, taken out of circulation for 5 years and be reconstructed elsewhere.

A renovated stadium would not intrude on the more than 80 year old buffer space that separates it local residences.

A renovated stadium would also be much less expensive than a new stadium, possibly a third of the cost.

A renovated stadium would celebrate the traditions and history of the Bronx, instead of demolishing them. Yankee Stadium has seen the World Series, the Greatest Football Game ever played, Championship boxing matches and religious revivals, the Pope, Nelson Mandela and the World Trade Center Memorial.

Again: we do not oppose development. But we do oppose development that benefits a single interest, and this project only serves the Yankees.

So we look to our legislators to work with us to stop this project and help create a solution that works in everyone's best interest.

We all deserve the best and that's a beautiful, renovated Yankee Stadium, looking over the beautiful, renovated Macombs Dam and Mullally Parks.

But we won't get it if we just wait for it. The only way that we'll get it is by fighting for it.

On a personal note: I love the Yankees. I live around the corner so that I can walk to and from the games.

But it's embarrassing to me that not only are the Red Sox the world champs, but they're also the team that understands how important the ballpark is to their fans and their city. It's embarrassing to me, that our elected officials think that this is a good idea. It makes me embarrassed to be a Yankee fan, and embarrassed to be a New Yorker.

Yankees get to decide which of our concerns are "reasonable"

In a piece on NY1 today titled "Residents Speak Out Against New Yankee Stadium, Bronx Terminal Market Projects" Dean Meminger reports:

"As for the Yankees, the team says it has worked with all of the local elected officials and will continue to listen to what it considers reasonable concerns."


Stealing a park the size of Ground Zero? I guess George would say that is not a reasonable concern?

Click title to read or go to

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Example of what happened to the community after the last Yankee Stadium renovation.

“In October 1975, as the bills mounted at Yankee Stadium for such items as VIP boxes with private bars and private bathrooms, air-conditioned dug-outs, and wall-to-wall carpeting in the players clubhouse, the City decided that the one way it could save money was to eliminate funds earmarked to improve the surrounding neighborhood. From the beginning, the renovation of Yankee Stadium had been billed as urban renewal. Now, as the cost of renovation soared to $100 million, the city reneged on the one part of the plan that would serve the local residents. In a dazzling display of indifference and insensitivity, part of this $2 million “savings” was then spent to buy the Yankees three hundred thousand dollars’ worth of equipment – a new tarpaulin, security devices, supports for the scoreboard. Meanwhile, the stadium’s protected closing had contributed to the demise of twelve local businesses, including the Jerome Cafeteria right across from the ballpark.

“When the stadium opened on April 15, in time for the 1976 season, the neighborhood was feeling ill-used. Community groups gathered and marched on the stadium to protest the City’s waste at the ballpark when the South Bronx was virtually dying around the corner. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner tried to assuage the angry natives and local churchmen by announcing Neighborhood Project No. I, a thirty-five-thousand-dollar plan to spruce up the nearby athletic fields of McCombs Dam Park. The fact that the tall lights erected under this project mainly lighted nearby Yankee parking lots is probably coincidence. The Yankees say other work done in the park totaled another thirty thousand dollars. Oh, Steinbrenner himself also gave five thousand dollars to a local athletic organization. It turned out that this five thousand had been raised by selling outdoor advertising space on the surface of the stadium, a stadium owned by New York City.”

See entire quote in the book “South Bronx Rising” by Jill Jonnes on page 287, published 2003 by Fordham University Press ISBN 0-8232-2199-7

Here are the Bronx politicians who SOLD US OUT!

Write to these politicians, especially Carmen Arroyo, Aurelia Greene, Jose Rivera and Sheldon Silver who voted for Bill # 8932 that will take away our parklands, Macombs Dam Park and Mullaly Park.

Carmen E. Arroyo (prime sponsor)
(84th Assembly)
384 East 149th Street
Suite 608
Bronx, NY 10455
(718) 292-2901

Jose Rivera
(78th Assembly)
2488 Grand Concourse, Room 416
Bronx, NY 10458
(718) 931-2620
riveraj@ assembly.state.ny.us

Luis M. Diaz
(86th Assembly)
2488 Grand Concourse, Rm 310-11
Bronx, NY 10458
(718) 933-6909
diazl@ assembly.state.ny.us

Ruben Diaz, Jr.
(85th Assembly)
1163 Manor Avenue
Bronx, NY 10472
(718) 893-0202
diazr@ assembly.state.ny.us

Carl E. Heastie
(83rd Assembly)
1351 East Gun Hill Road
Bronx, NY 10469
(718) 654-6539

Peter M. Rivera
(76th Assembly)
1262 Castle Hill Avenue
Bronx, NY 10462
(718) 931-2620

Aurelia Greene
(77th Assembly)
930 Grand Concourse
Suite E
Bronx, NY 10451
(718) 538-2000

Sheldon Silver
(64th Assembly)
250 Broadway
Suite 2307
New York, NY 10007
(212) 312-1420
speaker@ assembly.state.ny.us

Michael Benedetto
(82nd Assembly)
No local office

Albany Office
LOB 919
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5296
benedem@ assembly.state.ny.us

Naomi Rivera
(80th Assembly)
1126 Pelham Parkway South
Bronx, NY 10461
(718) 409-0109
riveran@ assembly.state.ny.us