DEIS: Summary of alternatives; Reconstruction
Draft EIS states:
After completing the Stadium’s 50th-anniversary season in 1973, the Yankees moved to Shea Stadium for two seasons while their home was almost completely demolished and then rebuilt.
Reconstruction on the existing site was also considered, but was determined infeasible because of the physical limitations of the site and the consequent inability to provide a modern-day baseball facility. In addition, the reconstruction alternative would have required the use of portions of Macomb’s Dam Park for parking, without the opportunity to provide replacement recreational facilities on the site of the existing stadium.
Thus, any “reconstruction” of the stadium on its current site would require complete demolition of the existing stadium and construction of a totally new stadium on a site that includes the current stadium site, Ruppert Place, and the portion of Macomb’s Dam Park adjacent to Ruppert Place.
A stadium on the south side of East 161st Street between River and Jerome Avenues might be large enough to meet stadium criteria, but the result would be sharply inferior to the proposed project and would not meet several key project objectives. First, the House that Ruth Built, the 1923 stadium, would be entirely obliterated. In addition, Garage A could not be built, so this alternative would either fail to provide adequate off-street parking, would require that a parking structure be built along the waterfront, the footprint would need to be expanded by 3.9 acres. It would entail creating a 65-footwide ring around the existing stadium and would effectively shut down East 161st Street, River Avenue (and the No. 4 elevated subway), and East 157th Street. Thus, any “reconstruction” of the stadium on its current site would require complete demolition of the existing stadium and construction of a totally new stadium on a site that includes the current stadium site, Ruppert Place, and the portion of Macomb’s Dam Park adjacent to Ruppert Place. This alternative was found infeasible and unacceptable, as follows:
First, the House that Ruth Built, the 1923 stadium, would be entirely obliterated.
In addition, Garage A could not be built, so this alternative would either fail to provide adequate off-street parking, would require that a parking structure be built along the waterfront.
Demolition and reconstruction of the stadium in an area containing today’s Yankee Stadium site would require the relocation of the Yankees to another venue for approximately four years. This is not possible today. The Mets are poised to build a new Shea Stadium next to the existing facility, which is widely acknowledged to be out of date. Having the Yankees play along with the Mets during construction of the new stadium would greatly exacerbate the parking impacts of the Shea Stadium project during its construction.
In addition, the relocation would be particularly disruptive to the Yankees, and could be achieved only at a great cost—not only the cost of relocation, but also the costs related to loss of revenue from team sponsors who could not be accommodated at Shea. These cost penalties would likely be reflected in a substantial increase in public sector contributions to the project. For all of these reasons, any option requiring relocation of the team is completely unacceptable to the Yankees.
The DEIS makes a series of weak arguments to discount this alternative. A demolition and reconstruction of the stadium could be done in various ways – ways that are not explored by the document. While it may require the Yankees to move temporarily, so what? They did it in 1973 and it only took 3 years - why would it take 4 years in 2006? Construction techniques have improved. Also, it’s not like fans would stop caring about the Yankees if they had to go to Shea stadium to watch a game. People go to games to be entertained and because they like the team. It’s not like a reconstruction of the stadium would move the team so far away that nobody could get there.
In addition, any Shea stadium reconstruction projects could be delayed until after the Yankees reconstruction is finished. Perhaps a reciprocal deal could be worked out where the Mets would play at the new Yankee Stadium during the Shea Stadium reconstruction. There are lots of ways to look at this, and the DEIS is too quick to dismiss this option.
As far as other elements of the argument are concerned:
Garage A could not be built – So? Nobody wants this anyway since it will destroy a park.
The House that Ruth Built, the 1923 stadium, would be entirely obliterated – Since when did the Yankees care about this? Notice how the only time the DEIS calls the old stadium “the House that Ruth Built” is when the Yankees are trying to discount the reconstruction alternative. The rest of the time, the stadium is called “an outdated, 82-year old facility.” There is clearly little regard for the historic nature of the old stadium in both the DEIS and by the Yankees previous threats to move to New Jersey. If they cared so much about it, why did they threaten to leave it as an abandoned building all of these years?