Tuesday, January 31, 2006

1/31/6, The Sun:"Levine Defends Plans for Yankee Stadium"

January 31, 2006

Levine Defends Plans for Yankee Stadium
By ALEC MAGNET - Staff Reporter of the Sun

January 31, 2006

The president of the Yankees, Randy Levine, yesterday defended plans for a new Yankee Stadium, saying its proposed site is the only one available.

"We need a new stadium," he said in a speech before a 300-person lunch audience at the New Bronx Chamber of Commerce, saying the old one "is just not functional."

Mr. Levine promised to use Bronx businesses and employ Bronx residents during and after construction. The president of the Bronx, Adolfo Carrion, and members of the borough's New Chamber of Commerce also spoke in favor of the ballpark."

It's neither feasible nor practical to either renovate or build on any other site in the Bronx," Mr. Levine said. "Not on the present site of the stadium - it's too small for a modern day stadium. Not to renovate there - it's way too costly and would not allow us any ability to play there for several years. And since we're paying for this, not the taxpayers, we wouldn't have revenues to build a new stadium."

Community groups and parks advocates have attacked the planned stadium on grounds that it will displace 22 acres of Macomb's Dam and John Mullaly parks. Critics also have complained that the planned use of public money - about $400 million for the $1.2 billion development - will serve in effect as a public subsidy for a project that will produce no benefit for the community.

Much protest against the new ballpark has focused on the plans to restore the displaced parkland with noncontiguous park facilities. Mr. Levine presented new plans for the parks, which are to be grouped into one main area next to the stadium and another on the Harlem River."

It's a central park, contiguous park, all together, all modern facilities," he said. "The tennis facilities will be moved to the waterfront because many of the community - rightly so - said they're serviced by cars and traffic. A lot of people outside the Bronx use that, so it's a much, much cleaner way to open up the waterfront and have the tennis facilities out on the Harlem River."

Many critics have challenged the Yankees' claim that the new ballpark will improve the neighborhood's economy, saying that the present stadium has not done so. Mr. Levine said the present stadium had contributed to the local economy, and that the new one would be even more beneficial."

Any city, state, fair-minded economist will tell you that the new stadium and the surrounding area around it will create ... maybe hundreds of millions of dollars in increased economic activity and increased tourism," he said.

In response to charges that the public contributions to the project constituted a public subsidy, Mr. Levine said that the Yankees are investing "at least" $800 million of their own money, the largest private investment in the history of professional sports or the Bronx. He admitted that some of this money would be in the form of tax-exempt bonds, but he said the team would be responsible for servicing the bonds. "What we're doing is no different from anybody building any office building in the city or state of New York," he said.

A research analyst for the nonprofit Good Jobs New York who has released a report on the new ballpark's finances, Daniel Steinberg, told The New York Sun earlier this month that the economic benefits of the stadium were unlikely to outweigh the cost in taxpayer money, and that many of the figures the plan cited were misleading. The Yankees have not issued an official response to the report.


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