Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Wikepedia and the Yankee Stadium plan

The following is the current version (as of today) of the Wikipedia entry for the new stadium plan. Click the title above to read the latest version.

New-Stadium Plan Ignites A Controversy

In the summer of 2005, the Yankees, along with New York city and state officials, unveiled plans to tear down the historic Yankee Stadium and build a $1.3 billion stadium on 22 acres of public parkland north of 161st Street. The project, which would involve $490 million in public subsidies, has been given a Bronx cheer by community groups, urban planners, and parks, health, and pubic transportation advocates. In the fall, Bronx Community Board 4 voted against the project (the board’s decisions are nonbinding), which would be the most expensive stadium ever built in the United States.

The transfer of Macombs Dam and John Mullaly parks (north of East 161st Street in the Bronx) was passed by the New York State Legislature without a public hearing in the days after the stadium’s design was unveiled. Opponents say this violates state and federal laws designed to protect parkland. City officials, including Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, say the parkland will be replaced with better parks. Community groups say the new parklike features would be small and scattered, compared with the 22 acres of central, continuous open space that is now available. Some parklike features would be built on the Harlem River waterfront, which is up to a mile away from the current parkland and requires walking under an interstate highway and over railroad tracks to access. Ten acres of the replacement parklike features would be built on artificial surface atop new parking garages; these parklike features would be closed to accommodate fans’ cars on game days, which make up half of the summer. Other parklike features would be built on the 9-acre site of Yankee Stadium, which would be completely torn down. The city has agreed to pay $103 million for the new parklike features and $27 million to demolish Yankee Stadium, and has also agreed not to charge the Yankees rent and taxes (the city Parks Department would retain ownership of the new stadium’s land).

The New York State Legislature agreed to $70 million in subsidies for a $230 million parking garage project. It is not clear who would fund the remaining $160 million and who would reap the parking revenue. This would give the Yankees 5,000 more parking spaces; their new stadium would have about 6,000 fewer seats. For several decades, transportation and community groups have urged the state’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority to build a station for the Metro-North commuter railroad’s Harlem Line, which runs adjacent to Yankee Stadium. Public transportation has been excluded from this project. Health advocates are concerned about the effect of increasing exhaust fumes and tearing down more than 400 mature trees on this Bronx neighborhood, which has one of the highest childhood asthma rates in the city.

The stadium itself would be paid for with $800 million in tax-free bonds from the city, state, and federal governments; the Yankees would repay those bonds. Major League Baseball’s 2002 collective bargaining agreement allows teams to deduct up to 40 percent of new-stadium costs from their revenue-sharing responsibilities. For the Yankees, who consistently boast the league's highest payroll and revenue, this means about $320 million of their stadium’s costs may be shared by the other 29 baseball teams.

City officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, say the neighborhood will benefit from the new stadium and parklike features. Yankees President Randy Levine says a new stadium will create thousands of jobs for the community. The city’s Economic Development Corporation, whose members are appointed by the mayor, says the stadium would increase the city’s tax base by $96 million over a 30-year period.

Community groups want the Yankees to build near their stadium, south of East 161st Street, or to renovate Yankee Stadium. A plan being discussed in 1998 estimated the cost of stadium renovation at $200 million. Renovating the existing parkland would cost about $25 million.

Position # 2: Mass Transit: the Key to Responsible Development


The worst feature of the current stadium proposal is the four new parking garages. The neighborhood suffers from traffic and parking problems with the current setup. Historically, the phenomena of induced traffic has been convincingly demonstrated. It’s clear that if more garages, expressways, bridges, etc. are made available, more people will be persuaded to come in by cars.

In addition, the presence of Garages A, B, and C prevent Yankee Management from doing whatever is needed to their stadium to the south and west of 161st Street which the community supports. They add to the size of the project and require more land which is the given reason for moving the stadium into the parks for which the community is so ferociously fighting. Eliminating the garages means that the Yankees could have a new stadium and the community could keep their parks.

By anchoring the project in mass transit, the Bronx would serve as a model for responsible development for the entire city. Transit options include:

1. The new station on the western branch of Metro-North which everybody favors.

2. The Melrose station (162nd St. & Park Avenue) on the eastern branch of Metro-North which has been a blight in its community is finally scheduled for renovation. This station should become the official Yankee Stadium station of that line. It must be advertised, it must have more frequent service (more frequent service for the community as well), and a shuttle bus service could be started to take fans to the stadium on game days. In addition, park and ride facilities could be provided around stations in Westchester (utilizing private parking facilities) if there is a demand and train discounts could be given to ticket holders. It’s important to emphasize that this must be heavily advertised to be effective.

3. A new subway service can easily be inaugurated on the 8th Avenue "A" line which would directly connect Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus terminal (used by Yankee fans) to the Concourse line, thus avoiding a transfer from the A & C to B & D trains.

4. In a longer term project, the #3 line can be extended from its 148th Street terminal to the Bronx and linked to the #4 line at 162nd St. to continue to Woodlawn. A feasibility study should be done. This line would run over a dedicated railroad bridge, be elevated in the Bronx and ultimately follow the route of the 9th Avenue "El" through the tunnel under Ogden and Anderson Avenues then to the elevated junction with the #4. An elevated station would be built to serve both Yankee fans and the Highbridge community which is a considerable distance from the current subway stations at 161st Street. (The junction with the #4 cannot be done if the new stadium is built over 162nd Street.) If there is a large amount of development in the far west side, this extension would be extremely popular and useful.

For this to work, driving-in must be discouraged by a strict enforcement of traffic and parking rules and also, new ideas such as congestion pricing can be tried if community residents are exempt.

Monday, February 27, 2006

"Terminal Market Deal Criticized" in Norwood News of Feb. 23 - Mar. 8, 2006

Terminal Market Deal Criticized


Elected officials are championing a community benefits agreement signed for the new Bronx Terminal mall as groundbreaking, but some community groups say the precedent-setting nature of the pact is exactly what they‘re worried about.

“It’s a disgrace,” said Pasquale Canale, president of the 161st Street Merchants Association. “We don’t feel that the community got anything.”

The Related Companies won its bid to build the Gateway Center mall at the old Terminal Market earlier this month when the City Council agreed to rezone the area. The night before the vote, Bronx officials and Related negotiated a package of labor-related stipulations and community givebacks for the $395 million project. The 965,000-square-foot complex, located between 149th and 153rd streets along the Harlem River, will include chain stores like BJ’s Warehouse, but not Wal-Mart. It is slated to open by 2009.

Related agreed to invest $3 million in job training and referral programs for Bronx residents, reserve some space for local and minority-owned vendors, and compensate the Market’s previous merchants. They also mandated that BJ’s accept food stamps and other benefits from customers (they currently do not at other stores), and pay half the membership fees for 1,000 residents.

Officials across the Bronx hailed the deal. “This agreement should serve as the benchmark for doing business in our borough and throughout the city,” said Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión in his state of the borough address earlier this month.

Assemblyman Jose Rivera said Ululy Martinez, chief of staff for the Bronx Democratic Party, deserves most of the credit. “[The agreement] is the first of its kind in the city,” said Martinez, a lawyer, during an interview at an event earlier this month. Martinez said he consulted similar community benefits agreements from California, and while the Gateway document isn’t as beneficial to the community as those, he said it comes close.

Matt Lipsky of the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, a city advocacy group, couldn’t disagree more. “There is no pressure on the developer to do anything,” he said.

If Related shirks its responsibilities, they will be fined up to $60,000. Community opponents fear Related will pay the fine and do whatever they want. “The community sold itself out for $60,000,” said Greg Bell, co-chair of Bronx Voices for Equal Inclusion, an advocacy group affiliated with the Mid-Bronx Neighborhood Advisory Council.

Martinez said Related was reluctant to make the agreement binding, but that officials succeeded in adding “enforcement mechanisms.” He didn’t elaborate on those measures.

Critics also complained about other parts of the agreement. The amount of space reserved for local merchants boils down to less than two percent of the entire mall. Living wage and minority hiring stipulations only pertain to workers contracted through Related, not the buildings’ tenants. The stores are encouraged, but not mandated, to hire through Bronx referral programs.

“How many people really are going to get jobs from Bronx county?” asked Bell, who sits on Community Board 4.

Community groups are particularly irate about the negotiating process. Last November, 18 community development corporations, Bronx organizations and other local stakeholders were selected by the borough president’s office to begin brainstorming about an agreement. They were divided into committees addressing small business, employment and environmental impacts.

Groups were given about a month to draft a document, but participants say they weren’t provided with any outside guidance. “We’d go to meetings among ourselves and talk in circles,” said Canale, who owns a corner store.

In the end, the groups weren’t even at the negotiating table. Organizations were e-mailed a completed document the morning of the Council vote. It included three lines for community signatures—and those were the only ones obtained. The heads of Hostos Community College, the New Bronx Chamber of Commerce and Mount Hope Housing Company endorsed the agreement. At least seven groups refused, according to Lipsky.

“Our two main focuses are transparency and inclusion,” Bell said. “This had neither.”

Anne Fenton, a spokesperson for the borough president, admitted that the rushed nature of the endorsement process wasn’t ideal, but she said that the signatories did represent each of the committees. “We chose three people that were heavily involved,” she said.

Critics worry that a closed-door process has implications for the neighboring Yankee Stadium development. The new stadium and parking garage, which would put replace two park, is moving forward despite growing community opposition.

Canale feels burned by Bronx officials. “How can you forget the neighborhood that put you up there?” asked Canale, who collected over 250 signatures against the stadium in less than two days. “The Yankees weren’t the people who elected you.”

Position # 1 : Responsible Development: Restoration of the Role of the Community


At one point or another, both newspapers and politicians decry over the lack of civic involvement, and especially the lack of civic interest among young people. From the very outset, however, both parties have done everything to keep community involvement at a minimum and the democratic rights of communities have been violated at every stage of the project.

After the media announced that there was no opposition to the project, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Yankee Management and the City of New York was signed on June 15, 2005. This document required both parties to do frequent community outreach and seek public input on the project. Instead, the community and even Bronx Community Board #4 were kept in the dark. In spite of the applications to start the ULURP process were certified on September 26, 2005.

Unnoticed in the Memorandum Of Understanding was the fact that the City of New York signed on as an "advocate" and "supporter" of the project which meant that all city agencies and their employees have to support it. Even though local public schools hate the project, their hands are tied and the community’s right to a fair and impartial hearing at City Planning is severely if not fatally compromised.

The Public Lot Doctrine protects community parks on the state level. Anticipating a public outcry, elected officials on the state level simply voted to give the parks to Yankee management without meaningful community outreach, without announcing the vote and without accepting testimony from the community in what is tantamount to a secret vote.

Even though Bronx Community Board #4 voted to reject the project, Bronx Borough President Carrion a strong supporter of the project stacked the deck against the community. During the public hearing of December 12th, he had 150 community residents locked out of an open meeting in an apparent violation of the community’s right of free speech.

After declaring erroneously that there is no opposition, the media have ignored the community’s campaign against the project despite the flagrant violation of democratic principles. Only recently when the project came before City Planning did some stories appear many of them biased against the community.

Save Our Parks will seek stronger legislation banning the use of community parks for private development in the City Council and also the imposition of some restrictions on the power of the City of New York to "advocate" and to "support" private development projects.

Save Our Parks’ Position Paper

Save Our Parks is broadcasting our Position Papers. Over the next few days we will concisely reveal details on these 7 positions.

Save Our Parks Stands for Responsible Community Development

1. Restoration of A Role for the Community & Reaffirmation of Rights

2. Stadium Development Oriented Around Mass Transit
(a) Community favors development to the south and west of the present stadium location.

(b) Eliminate Parking Garages/Reduce Traffic Congestion

(c) Model of Mass Transit:

(1) Metro North Station
(2) Rehabilitation of Melrose Station
(3) 8th Avenue Express to the Bronx
(4) Extension of the #3 Line
(5) Congestion Pricing
(6) Ferries

3. Community Parks Belong to the People - Return of Macomb’s Dam and John Mullaly Parks to the Community.

(a) We Already Have a Central Park! Why Build a New One?

(b) Synthetic parks - unneeded waste of money-Invest in Bronx parks/transit.

4. The Yankee Stadium Project and External Security Needs

5. Stadiums Do Not Create An Economic Boom

6. Why the Yankees Won’t Move

7. Asthma is Suffocating the South Bronx

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Taxpayer Subsidy Hearing for Yankee Stadium on Thursday, March 2 at 4pm at Hostos Community College, Bronx

Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) Hearing
Thursday, March 2, 2006
4 pm to 6pm

Hostos Community College
450 Grand Concourse

Main theatre, building C, first floor

You can speak out against what the ESDC is proposing:

• $70 milllion dollars in State finds appropriated through the ESDC for parking garages containing about 5,000 spaces
• $4.7 million in cash grants towards the parking garages

Issue Highlights

Open Government/Open Space: In June 2005 the state legislature and city council quietly seized 24 acres of John Mullaly and Macomb’s Dam Park to be used for the new stadium and garages. Public officials failed to notify or consult the community beforehand and have since taken great pains to expedite the public review and subsidy allocation processes.

Hidden Costs: Direct and indirect subsidies for the Yankee Stadium project could exceed $480 million. The city and state would contribute about $210 million for replacement parks, parking garages and the demolition of the current stadium. In addition, the Yankees would not be required to pay property taxes, sales tax or rent, and would have access to tax-exempt bonds to finance the stadium’s construction.

Jobs: Subsidizing this stadium is a costly and inefficient strategy for creating jobs. Most of the 900 “permanent jobs” would be seasonal and low-wage positions that would not effectively address the high rates of poverty and unemployment in the surrounding community.

Garages vs. Mass Transit: A new Metro-North station would allow thousands of more fans to utilize mass transit each game while connecting the South Bronx community to the surrounding region. However, the state is instead investing $70 million in new parking garages that will increase traffic and pollution in a neighborhood already suffering from alarmingly high Asthma rates

To request copies of ESDC, contact Maria Mooney at (212) 803-3133.

For more information on this proposal, and to read GJNY’s report “Loot, Loot, Loot for the Home Team” go to www.goodjobsny.org or call Dan Steinberg at Good Jobs New York: (212) 721-4865.

Zimbalist on Economic Research Associates

"[The Dallas Cowboys economic impact report by Economic Research
Associates] gives every appearance of being the standard puffery that you
get in these types of economic impact reports. They use an inappropriate
methodology, faulty assumptions and come up with projections that are
meaningless." --Andrew Zimbalist, Dallas Morning News, 8/14/2004

This is, of course, the same Economic Research Associates that later went on to be hired by New York City to do its economic-impact studies for the proposed Mets and Yankees stadiums. We'd be curious what Andy thinks of the methodology now.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Signs that the Yankees fear

Recently the Yankees were so terrified by these signs on most of the windows along Jerome Avenue that would be affected if ever a stadium is built on the park across the street, that the Yankees passed out slick brochures titled "Yankee Stadium Plan: What does it mean for our Bronx Neighborhood?" (See Feb 23 Metro NY article which we posted yesterday on this blog.) No surprise it was packed with lies.

The correct answer is that the area would be blighted by a 14-story mega-stadium smack in the middle of an historic Art Deco neighborhood accompanied by its intense noise, bright lights, pollution and traffic. The four extra garages built with state and city taxpayer money would attract an extra 5,000 vehicles thereby worsening the air quality and injuring the health of fans and residents, especially on summer "ozone alert days." The larger stadium footprint that would destroy the 400 mature trees on our centralized Macombs and Mullaly Park would be an inviting terrorist target and further strain our police resources. So-called replacement parks scheduled to be built 5 years later, away from our community and scattered on top of the garages would be closed to the public during home games for "security reasons." The total taxpayer cost so far exceeds $481 million. Fans get fewer seats and pay more.

Friday, February 24, 2006

"Bronx cheer for Arroyo" in Metro NY on Feb 24

Bronx cheer for Arroyo

by patrick arden / metro new york

FEB 24, 2006

SOUTH BRONX — Teenage boys were handing out slick brochures at the apartment buildings along Jerome Avenue yesterday afternoon.

“They were paid to knock on our doors,” said Linda Florence, who’s lived near 164th Street for 29 years. “They wanted to know if we were for or against the new Yankee Stadium. I told them I was against it, and they handed me this.”

She waved the flyer, which said, “Yankee Stadium Plan: What does it mean for our Bronx neighborhood?” Inside was a list of “frequently asked questions,” in English and in Spanish. On the back it said, “Paid for by the New York Yankees.”

That evening Florence attended a protest held by the community group Save Our Parks in front of a McDonald’s opposite the current Yankee Stadium.

After the demonstration, the protesters reconvened at a senior center on Gerard Avenue. Officials from the 98-year-old citywide advocacy organization New Yorkers for Parks had asked to speak.

“I’ve seen the outstanding work you’ve already done,” said Christian DiPalermo, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks. “I see you’re sending letters, calls — excellent. That’s exactly what you have to do now that the battle is turning to the City Council.

“Everyone we’re talking to is looking for leads from the Bronx delegation, and where they’re looking specifically is Council member [Maria del Carmen] Arroyo.

“You guys have definitely been heard by [Bronx Councilwoman Helen] Foster. But Arroyo has to hear more. Speaker [Christine] Quinn is going to meet with her and Foster, and say, ‘What’s going on?’ We’re telling you, everybody’s going to look to your Council member, and you are the community.

“Let’s try to meet her everywhere. If she says, ‘I put money for health care here,’ say, great, then why are you knocking down 400 mature trees, which is going to add to the asthma? Why are you putting 75 percent more parking? You guys know the facts — you need to put the pressure on.”

DiPalermo said his group was looking for a lawyer to represent residents pro bono.

“But I would also like to emphasize that the political battle is not over.”

Someone in the back of the room suggested inviting Arroyo to a meeting.

“I think inviting Arroyo and others is great,” DiPalermo said. “But I wouldn’t wait — you’re the community group. She goes out, she has a public calendar, wherever she’s going she should always be asked, ‘What about the Yankees?’”

Thursday, February 23, 2006

"Yanks pitch change-ups" in Metro Feb 23

Yanks pitch change-ups
Planning Commission approves stadium project while Bronxites mull plan’s ‘fuzzy math’

by patrick arden / metro new york

FEB 23, 2006

BRONX — The plan to build a new Yankee Stadium cleared another hurdle yesterday, as the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the project. Now the proposal will head to the City Council, which will decide the fate of the stadium in the next two months.

The project appears to be on a fast track, with the Yankees scheduled to break ground this spring. But last night a group of residents remained determined to derail the ballpark.

Members of Save Our Parks initially objected to the new stadium and parking garages claiming 22 acres of parkland. These days they have another beef with the political machinations that have edged them out of the discussion.

In an apartment on the Grand Concourse, they combed through the project’s 730-page Final Environmental Impact Statement, which was completed this month. They were still trying to figure out what is exactly at stake.

Numbers game

“They keep tweaking the numbers, hoping no one will notice,” complained Joyce Hogi, who lives near Mullaly Park and the current stadium. “We’re disappointed that the planners would so blatantly ignore the effect this project will have on the community, but we’re not discouraged. It’s like they’re playing games with this fuzzy math.”

The original pitch had the city replacing the lost parkland with 28 acres of new park facilities — a gain of six acres — but the latest plan calls for just 24 acres of parks, and some of that will be on top of underground parking garages built on existing parkland. In response to community protests, the replacement parkland has been shifted to carve out a central space.

“That was supposed to make us happy,” noted Lukas Herbert, a member of Community Board 4, which voted against the stadium. “But the new improved plan actually has less parkland.”

Three weeks ago Yankees president Randy Levine lauded the city’s “$130 million investment” in the parks. The city, however, is slated to spend just $103 million on parks and $27 million to tear down the old ballpark. According to the city’s Economic Development Corporation, the city will get back only $96 million in tax revenue over the next 30 years.

Yesterday Levine said, “This project will create thousands of jobs, new and improved parkland and benefits and opportinities for residents.”

Moving target

When it was unveiled, the new stadium was praised as a private project with limited government aid. The Yankees would build their own $800 million ballpark, while the city and the state ponied up $200 million for related costs.

A watchdog group factored in costs such as tax breaks and put taxpayers’ final expense at $480 million, a figure the Yankees dispute.

But even the $800 million the team is dedicating to the project will be financed with $930 million in city bonds, both taxable and non-taxable. The extra $130 million will cover the team’s cost of borrowing the money.

“People always assumed the Yankees were putting up this money, but they have to float bonds,” said Herbert. “George Steinbrenner is not writing a check — he’s paying us back.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

2/22/6, the Sun: "Commission Expected To Give Yankees Go-Ahead for Stadium"

Publication: The New York Sun;
Date:Feb 22, 2006;
Section:New York;

Commission Expected To Give Yankees Go-Ahead for Stadium
By DAVID LOMBINO Staff Reporter of the Sun

The city's Planning Commission is expected to give the green
light today to the Yankees' application for a new stadium, but
neighborhood advocates and urban planners say that the city's
land-use process has served as little more than a rubber stamp for a
project backed by the mayor.

As part of the city's land-use approval process, the application
was under review by the Planning Commission for about six weeks, but
it has not significantly changed, according to one city official.

The proposal to build a 51,800-seat stadium on a site next door
to the existing stadium, displacing about 22 acres of parks, was
rejected by the local Community Board 4 in an advisory vote late last year.

A member of the community board and an urban planner by trade,
Lukas Herbert, said yesterday that the city has failed to address
neighborhood concerns about lack of community input, the quality of
28 acres of replacement parks, the location of the parking
structures, public transportation alternatives, declining property
values, and health effects.

"This thing is being pushed though as quickly as possible and
that should not be the case with a project of this size," Mr. Herbert
said. "There has been no holistic examination of what it is doing to
the neighborhood, and it could really mess up years of progress."

The state Legislature and the City Council have already approved
the transfer of parkland to the Yankees.

Supporters of the new stadium, who include Mayor Bloomberg and
the president of the Bronx, Adolfo Carrion, say the project will
create jobs and revitalize one of the poorest neighborhoods in the
city. The Yankees say the new stadium will constitute the largest
private investment in Bronx history.

Dozens of opponents and supporters attended a public hearing at
the Planning Commission about the project on January 11 that lasted
late into the afternoon.

Yesterday, the president of the Yankees, Randy Levine, would not
say what changes, if any, had been made recently to the plan and said
the proposal would speak for itself today.

According to earlier statements by team and city officials, some
changes were made to the application before the Planning Commission's
review, including lowering the height of a parking garage and moving
some fields closer to the neighborhood.

A professor of urban planning at Hunter College,Tom Angotti,
said that the city's land-use review process, particularly the review
by the Planning Commission, which contains mayoral appointees, is
flawed in a way that favors projects approved by the mayor.

"They have yet to show any independence as a body when it comes
to thumbs up and thumbs down. They can influence a project and change
a project, and they have done that on occasion," Mr. Angotti said.
"Deals get made in advance with the mayor that make it unlikely they
will go against him."

A planning official said yesterday that commission members had
relayed the concerns expressed by community members to the Yankees
and the Parks Department since the land-use process began in late September.

If approved, the city will spend $135 million to create new
parks and enhance infrastructure, and the state would pay $70 million
for construction of additional parking facilities. The Yankees would
pay about $800 million for the construction costs of the stadium.

If the application is approved today as expected, it still must
be approved by the City Council.

2/9/6, Metro New York: "City on the hook to cover Yankees’ parking lot tab"

City on the hook to cover Yankees’ parking lot tab

State says costs will be shouldered by taxpayers if developer balks at building garages

by patrick arden / metro new york

FEB 9, 2006

BRONX — The city could end up covering the bill for the four parking garages required under the proposed Yankee Stadium plan, according to a document drawn up by the Empire State Development Corporation, the state’s economic investment agency.

The garages were supposed be built with $70 million from the state. The team’s president, Randy Levine, even asserted on Tuesday that this investment will pay for itself.

“All of the parking proceeds will go directly back to the state,” he said.

Yet, a private developer, not the state, stands to collect this parking revenue. That’s because the actual cost of the garages is $235 million, not $70 million, according to the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The Empire State Development Corporation maps the terms of the garage deal in its General Project Plan: “The balance of cost of constructing the New Parking Garages will be borne by the garage operator and/or the City.”

The city’s Economic Development Corporation is looking for investors to pony up that extra $165 million. It has already issued a Request for Qualifications to gauge the number and quality of bidders. “We got a number of competitive responses,” said Janel Patterson, a spokesperson for the EDC. “We’ll narrow these down, and we hope to issue a Request for Proposals in about a month.”

According to requirements laid out in the Request for Qualifications, the garage’s operator will have to pay a lease of $3.2 million to the city and should not charge more than $25 per car. With 4,700 parking spaces and 81 games a season, a full garage will generate only $9.5 million from the games. That’s $6.3 million a year after paying off the lease.

“It doesn’t seem feasible for a private developer,” said Dan Steinberg, a research analyst with Good Jobs New York, a government watchdog group that released its own report on the Yankee Stadium project this week. “If there’s not enough interest from a private developer, we’re concerned that the city might get stuck with the tab.”

So what does the state stand to collect from its $70 million investment?

“The only revenue would be the tax revenue,” Patterson said. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement puts revenue to the state at $11.2 million for “one-time construction benefits” and $250,000 for 2009.

“That’s all they give,” said Steinberg. “If taxes generate $250,000 a year, the state will collect in today’s dollars another $5.1 million over 30 years. Not the best return on its investment.”

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Field of Schemes totals the $$$

Click the title above to read a complete rundown of costs to the taxpayer for a new stadium made by the fine folks at Field of Schemes.

The surprising thing is that annual city rent receipts from the Yankees are going up, not down.

Read it yourself.

2/17/6, the Sun: "The State of the Bronx"

The State Of the Bronx

February 17, 2006

When it happened, I'm not really sure, but most borough presidents, relatively powerless under the current city charter, deliver an annual "State of the Borough" speech. Although there has been precious little good news to report, the Bronx is certainly no exception to this practice.

During Fernando Ferrer's long occupancy of borough hall, this speech began to take on imperial trappings, aping the president's annual speech before Congress. This, of course was a bully pulpit for a candidate who spent the final eight years of his tenure running for mayor (before taking his quest private, courtesy of term limits, on January 1, 2002).

It is humorous to watch the pomp and circumstance at these events. During the borough president's speech, one can follow along through the obligatory simultaneous translation into sign language.

But sometimes these ceremonial events deteriorate into reflections on the dark side of ethnic politics.

One public official, Miguel Martinez of Washington Heights, held a gala "swearing in" ceremony last month to mark the beginning of his second term in the City Council. At this carefully scripted event, Mr. Martinez gave the national anthem of the Dominican Republic equal play with the Star Spangled Banner. While it is true that there are a lot of natives of the Dominican Republic living in this carefully gerrymandered district, Mr. Martinez misses the point. Certainly, in a district of more than 150,000 people, there are natives of many other lands, folks who didn't get to hear their ancestral national song. These public events should reflect the unifying American values that brought people here in the first place, and not single out one particular group.

The current president of the Bronx, Adolfo Carrion Jr., delivered his 2006 State of the Borough speech a couple of weeks back, and omitted the Puerto Rican anthem. In Mr. Carrion's Bronx, in any events, things are just peachy keen. "The borough has prospered and rebuilt itself," he announced. Unemployment, according to Mr. Carrion, is down 41%.

The truth is we have no idea how high or low the unemployment rate in the Bronx really is. But the number can't be good. To be unemployed, you had to have been employed in the first place. Thousands enter the job market each year, but many, perhaps most, simply don't find jobs. The number of available jobs, particularly in the private sector, has been shrinking. Moreover, as industry has left the borough, many of those who become unemployed drop off the statistical radar screen after they stop receiving benefits.

It could be that official unemployment figures are down because fewer become unemployed as there are fewer industrial jobs left to lose.

The only area of growth in the Bronx economy has been in the public and quasi-public sectors, particularly in the health care industry. But even this has slowed down. Recently, it was announced that Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center, once the flagship of the health care industry sponsored by the Catholic Church, will be absorbed into the prestigious Montefiore Medical system, a well-known Jewish sponsored institution. The sum of the two will result surely lead to cost savings derived by downsizing.

How bad is the Bronx economy? There still is no truly functioning and representative Chamber of Commerce, nor is there a single real hotel in this borough of one-and-a-half million souls (unless you are planning an extremely short stay).

Mr. Carrion points with pride at the planned shopping center that is slated to be built on the site of the Bronx Terminal Market, not far from Yankee Stadium. But of course, he had nothing to do with this project, which is a Bloomberg administration initiative. What Mr. Carrion likes best about this plan is the "community benefits agreement" he helped negotiate, a sort of extortion scheme that links permission to build with concessions that the local politicians can dispense to their supporters, a new form of patronage coerced from the private sector.

The imminent start of construction on a new Yankee Stadium is a good thing. The departure of the Yankees would have been the coup de grace of any hope of reviving the Bronx economy. But Mr. Carrion, like his predecessor Mr. Ferrer, is desperately overreaching in trying to make this positive development more than what it is. One of Mr. Carrion's initiatives is to create a "sports career high school" as part of the stadium complex. In this he has a willing partner with the Bloomberg administration.

Few ask what jobs there are in sports that one could prepare for in such a school and what these jobs pay. Front office jobs are few and pay little. There is no shortage of eager young people willing to work for peanuts in order to bask in the glow of Derek Jeter. Complicating matters is that the baseball end of the Yankees business is being run out of Tampa, Fla., jobs lost to the Bronx during the administration of Mr. Ferrer.

The Bronx yearns for a borough president with vision and energy who can be a sparkplug for private development with no strings attached.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

2/8/6, amNewYork: "Group: Yanks' stadium could cost taxpayers $481M"

Group: Yanks' stadium could cost taxpayers $481M
amNewYork City Editor

February 8, 2006

Taxpayers could cough up half a billion dollars to help George Steinbrenner build a new stadium for the Yankees, a government watchdog group warned Tuesday. But Yankees' brass dismissed the group's report as "wrong" and "misleading."

Good Jobs New York estimated that the Bronx Bombers' new palace would cost $481 million in public subsidies when infrastructure improvements, demolition costs, tax breaks and other incentives are added up.

"We are not anti-development," said Bettina Damiani, the watchdog group's project director. "But the most powerful and wealthy sports franchise is asking for almost half a billion worth of subsidies in the country's poorest congressional district and nobody is asking, 'How is this going to lift a nearby family out of poverty?'"

The report adds to the controversy surrounding the new stadium. Another group, Save Our Parks, has been critical of plans because it would be built on 22 acres of Macomb's Dam and John Mullaly parks.

Yankees President Randy Levine dismissed the report as a "fiction" from an "anti-development advocacy group."

"The Yankees are privately financing a new $800 million stadium which will be the largest private investment in a private sports venue in the history of the United States and the largest private investment in the history of the Bronx," he said.

In particular, Levine objected to the group's calculation that the city would lose $103 million in rent with a new stadium. He said that's a misleading number because the Yankees do not pay rent at the current stadium.

He noted that other tax breaks used in the group's $481 million estimate are part of a state incentive package that any business that invests in the South Bronx will get.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Feb 16, Thursday, General Meeting

General Meeting

February 16, 2006, Thursday
Hope of Israel Senior Center
840 Gerard Avenue

There will no guest speaker at this meeting but hope to restart the guest speaker program on the following Thursday, February 23 at the same place and time.

2/12/6, Newsday: "Owners should foot bill for stadiums"

Owners should foot bill for stadiums

Ken Davidoff

February 12, 2006

Ridiculously, the Washington Nationals (originally the Montreal Expos) kick off their fifth year as a ward of Major League Baseball, and a discharge from Bud Selig's orphanage is hardly imminent. Another chaotic week in District of Columbia politics produced another revised lease for the prodigal new stadium project, and baseball officials sound decidedly pessimistic about whether this plan will fly.

Without a viable new stadium plan, baseball leadership has made clear, there will be no sale.

Throw in the continued frustration of the Minnesota Twins, whose efforts to get a new ballpark are on life support, and the unsurprising revelation that the Yankees will be getting far more public funding than originally reported for their new stadium.

It adds up to one obvious conclusion, one that baseball has largely refused to acknowledge: The taxpayers shouldn't be footing the bill for these projects. Such a path leads to so much trouble, like this Washington nonsense, and the buildings never validate their investments. (Emphasis ours) Furthermore, there's nowhere for teams such as the Marlins to move.

A far more preferable avenue: Have baseball owners fund their own new fields of dreams. Create some sort of central fund, designed specifically to aid owners in need.

"There may come a time for that," Selig acknowledged in an interview last month. "This sport hasn't been in enough of a profit situation to be able to do that, but we're making progress."

That's good news. By now, everyone knows that whole "invest in a stadium and your community shall reap the benefits" idea is an utter fallacy. (Again, emphasis ours) A chapter from a fascinating new book, "Baseball Between the Numbers," by the people from Baseball Prospectus, contains a chapter further validating this reality.

The NFL is in the stadium-building business, and baseball should follow that lead. To be fair, baseball is far ahead of Paul Tagliabue and company when it comes to diversity, so baseball gets the overall edge.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Community excluded from day ONE

The following is evidence that the community has been excluded from the planning process from day one. It is the text of the letter sent by Community Board 4 to Randy Levine. Read it! And do take note of the politicians who received a copy. Most of these have said they were unaware of community concerns.

While you're at it, pay special attention to the following sentences:

"We would hope that you will keep us informed of any new developments as it relates to the new Yankee Stadium and that we can foster a closer relationship based on mutual respect and understanding.

We would appreciate if you contact our board office to schedule a meeting where we can voice our concerns related to this project and to open a line of communication with your organization."

Of course the Yankees never deigned to inform the community of developments. How else to railroad a bad plan for the community?

If you would like a copy of the photo we have of it, send your request to savebronxparks@yahoo.com

Here's the letter:

June 29, 2005

Mr. Randy Levine
The New York Yankees
Yankee Stadium
Bronx, NY 10451

Dear Mr. Levine:

The following letter is to voice our disappointment for not being invited to a press conference you organized announcing the plans to develop a new Yankee Stadium. At the June 28, 2005 General Board Meeting, after some discussion ensued related to the board’s disappointment for being excluded in this press announcement, the Board Members voted unanimously to send you a letter in this regard.

We are particularly concerned that you did not include us in your list of invitees, given that we are the local governmental agency that will review the ULURP Applications attached to this new development. In addition, as the legal entity responsible for advocating on behalf of the residents’ interest in Community District Four, we are left with no answers when community residents question us on the details of this press conference.

We would hope that you will keep us informed of any new developments as it relates to the new Yankee Stadium and that we can foster a closer relationship based on mutual respect and understanding.

We would appreciate if you contact our board office to schedule a meeting where we can voice our concerns related to this project and to open a line of communication with your organization.

Please contact David Mojica, District Manager, at 718-299-080, to schedule a meeting between your organization and Community Board Four or for any other m matter.


Ade A. Rasul

Cc: Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr.
Congressman Jose E. Serrano, 16th District
Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, 36th District
Senator José Marco Serrano, 28th District
Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo, 84th District
Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, 79th District
Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene, 77th District
Councilwoman Maria Baez, 14th District
Councilwoman Helen Diane Foster, 16th District
Councilwoman Maria Del Carmen Arroyo, 17th District

"City on the hook to cover Yankees’ parking lot tab" in Metro NY on 2/09/06

City on the hook to cover Yankees’ parking lot tab

State says costs will be shouldered by taxpayers if developer balks at building garages

by patrick arden / metro new york

FEB 9, 2006

BRONX — The city could end up covering the bill for the four parking garages required under the proposed Yankee Stadium plan, according to a document drawn up by the Empire State Development Corporation, the state’s economic investment agency.

The garages were supposed be built with $70 million from the state. The team’s president, Randy Levine, even asserted on Tuesday that this investment will pay for itself.

“All of the parking proceeds will go directly back to the state,” he said.

Yet, a private developer, not the state, stands to collect this parking revenue. That’s because the actual cost of the garages is $235 million, not $70 million, according to the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The Empire State Development Corporation maps the terms of the garage deal in its General Project Plan: “The balance of cost of constructing the New Parking Garages will be borne by the garage operator and/or the City.”

The city’s Economic Development Corporation is looking for investors to pony up that extra $165 million. It has already issued a Request for Qualifications to gauge the number and quality of bidders. “We got a number of competitive responses,” said Janel Patterson, a spokesperson for the EDC. “We’ll narrow these down, and we hope to issue a Request for Proposals in about a month.”

According to requirements laid out in the Request for Qualifications, the garage’s operator will have to pay a lease of $3.2 million to the city and should not charge more than $25 per car. With 4,700 parking spaces and 81 games a season, a full garage will generate only $9.5 million from the games. That’s $6.3 million a year after paying off the lease.

“It doesn’t seem feasible for a private developer,” said Dan Steinberg, a research analyst with Good Jobs New York, a government watchdog group that released its own report on the Yankee Stadium project this week. “If there’s not enough interest from a private developer, we’re concerned that the city might get stuck with the tab.”

So what does the state stand to collect from its $70 million investment?

“The only revenue would be the tax revenue,” Patterson said. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement puts revenue to the state at $11.2 million for “one-time construction benefits” and $250,000 for 2009.

“That’s all they give,” said Steinberg. “If taxes generate $250,000 a year, the state will collect in today’s dollars another $5.1 million over 30 years. Not the best return on its investment.”

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Metro article discusses community exclusion

The Neighborhood Retail Alliance has some excellent comments on Patrick Arden’s Metro NY piece describing how the recently crafted Gateway Community Benefits Agreement in fact lacked community input.

Watch out! Apparently, our beloved politicians are about to provide us with our very own "Community Benefits Agreement." What do you say it is even worse than the Gateway CBA?

Click the title above. Includes link to the Metro article.

2/7/6, Crains: "Yankee stadium will cost taxpayers, group says"

February 07, 2006

Yankee stadium will cost taxpayers, group says
by Catherine Tymkiw

The proposed new Yankee Stadium could cost taxpayers nearly $500 million, according to a report by government watchdog group Good Jobs New York.

The Yankees have agreed to pay the estimated $800 million needed to build the stadium, with the city and state covering $210 million for parks, parking garages and infrastructure improvements. But the cost to taxpayers would be far higher, the report says.

“The Yankees would not be required to pay rent, property taxes, mortgage recording taxes or sales tax on construction materials,” wrote Good Jobs project director Bettina Damiani and research analyst Dan Steinberg. The report, called “Loot, Loot, Loot for the Home Team,” also claims that the new stadium won’t generate enough revenue to cover taxpayers’ costs and calls on officials to reevaluate the entire deal.

Among other suggestions, Good Jobs says the Yankees should reconsider renovating the current stadium.

Yankees President Randy Levine reportedly called the report “false and misleading.” Mr. Levine has tried to blunt opposition to the project by pledging to hire Bronx contractors for the project.

2/8/6, the Sun: "Watchdog Group Gives Proposed Yankee Stadium a Bronx Cheer"

Watchdog Group Gives Proposed Yankee Stadium a Bronx Cheer

By DAVID LOMBINO - Staff Reporter of the Sun
February 8, 2006

The costs of building the proposed new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx would outweigh the benefits to city residents and taxpayers, according to a report released by a government watchdog group yesterday.

The report from Good Jobs New York said the total public cost for the project, including subsidies, expenses, and lost revenue, is close to $500 million-far more than the $290 million in projected benefits. The analysis was based on figures provided by the city.

The director of Good Jobs New York, Bettina Damiani, said the city and state should slow down the project approval process and negotiate a better deal for taxpayers.

"The city can not give away the store to a company that has tremendous access to other financial opportunities," Ms. Damiani said. "This is the poorest congressional district in the nation and the richest sports franchise in the nation."

The organization's findings were disputed by Yankees, city, and state officials. They questioned the report's accuracy and defended the stadium project on the grounds that it will deliver jobs and private investment to an impoverished region of the Bronx.

The city has said it plans to spend $135 million to create new parks and enhance infrastructure, and the state has agreed to pay $70 million for construction of additional parking facilities. The Yankees will pay about $800 million for the construction costs of the proposed 51,800-seat stadium.

The president of the Yankees, Randy Levine, told The New York Sun yesterday that the report was "riddled with errors," particularly in its calculations of what the deal would cost the city. Mr. Levine said the city would end up "in the black" compared to what it would pay in maintenance costs should the old stadium stand and continue to deteriorate.

"The only public investment here is for infrastructure, which is an appropriate use of government funding," said Mr. Levine, who served as the deputy mayor for economic development in the Giuliani administration. "Compared to other teams' transactions with other municipalities, it seems ridiculous for anybody to be complaining at the levels of investment that are taking place here."

Mr. Levine added, "It's no secret that much of the private investment is taking place in the Bronx based on the assumption that there would be a new Yankees Stadium."

Last week, the City Council gave final approval to a $394 million shopping mall just south of the current Yankee Stadium on the site of the Bronx Terminal Market. There have been several recent reports that residential real estate in portions of the South Bronx is on the rise.

A spokeswoman for the city's Economic Development Corporation, Janel Patterson, said in a statement, "While the old stadium cost the City over $30 million to maintain in the past five years alone, the new stadium will result in thousands of new jobs and play a major role in the revitalization of the South Bronx."

Representatives of some community groups opposing the project were on hand yesterday at the Good Jobs New York press conference. Neighbors complain that the 22-acre stadium project would eliminate much of two popular neighborhood parks. They say the Yankees and city Parks Department plan to replace the parkland in two separate groupings, near the stadium and along the Harlem River, is inadequate.

Yesterday, the groups' representatives said the community has been excluded from the stadium planning process.

In an advisory vote last fall, the local community board rejected the stadium plan. But it was recently approved by the president of the Bronx, Adolfo Carrion, and is now being considered by the City Planning Commission, which must weigh in on the stadium project by February 27. If approved, it will head to the City Council for final approval.

The state Legislature and the City Council have already approved the transfer of parkland to the Yankees.

Mr. Levine said yesterday that negotiations over a community benefits agreement were near completion. He said he expected the agreement would be "much more significant" than a $5 million agreement signed last week between the developer of the nearby Gateway Center mall, local elected officials, and some community representatives.

The city will hold a public hearing on March 9 over a proposed tax-exempt and taxable bond issue of up to $930 million for the Yankees to pay for the stadium construction.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Gateway CBA

The good folks over at the Neighborhood Retail Alliance have deconstructed the Community Benefits Agreement recently crafted for the Bronx Terminal Market redevelopment. Click the title above to read their excellent points.

As one person who is familiar with CBAs told them: “This is the worst Community Benefits Agreement I have even seen.”

Keep in mind, the very same people who brought this dead dog to the community are busily crafting something similar for the Yankee proposal.

2/7/6, Ny1: "Watchdog Group: New Yankee Stadium Will Cost Taxpayers"

Watchdog Group: New Yankee Stadium Will Cost Taxpayers

February 07, 2006

The group “Good Job New York” says the proposed new Yankee Stadium will cost taxpayers up to a half-billion dollars.

While the Yankees will cover the $800 million tab for the new stadium, Good Jobs New York says once subsidies are factored in, the project would cost taxpayers $480 million – more than double what has previously been suggested.

In a report called "Loot, Loot, Loot for the Home Team,” the group argues the stadium will not generate enough money for the city and says it would only create 900 permanent low-wage positions.

"The Yankees are asking for a ton of money from taxpayers, New York City and New York State, and they created this deal out of table where no one from the community was," said Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs New York. "In the process, they've managed to take away a park. We're supposed to spend taxpayer money to tear down Yankee Stadium. I don't think many taxpayers would approve of that if they knew that's what the process was."

The report also says a plan to replace lost park space is inadequate and says there has not been enough community involvement.

The report offers a number of suggestions for improvement on the plan, including having the Yankees consider other options such as renovating the current stadium instead of replacing it.

said: “It comes from a group that is nothing more
In response, Yankee President Randy Levine said the information in the report was “absolutely false and misleading.” In a statement, Levine than an anti-development advocacy group, whose policies should rename it No Jobs NY. The alleged new information is not new at all.” (sic)

February 9, General Meeting & Transportation Speaker too

General Meeting & Guest Speaker

February 9, 2006, Thursday
Hope of Israel Senior Center
840 Gerard Avenue

Nancy Christensen of Tri-State Transportation Campaign will speak about the transportation horrors of the Yankee plan and offer better alternatives.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

January, Highbridge Horizon: "Plan for new stadium under review"

Plan for new stadium under review

By Joe Lamport
Managing Editor

The plan to build a new Yankee Stadium - and the destruction of beloved parkland - moved closer to reality when the city planning commission held its public hearing on the plan Jan. 11. The scene on the sidewalk outside of the hearing room - with opponents and proponents of the plan arguing heatedly - reflected the pitched battle for and against the plan.

The commission will cast its vote by Feb. 27. Although opponents of the plan expect the commission to approve it, at least one member said the commission's approval was far from certain.

"It's not a slam dunk," said Kenneth Knuckles, the vice chairman of the commission and a former deputy Bronx Borough President. "There are lots of compelling arguments on both sides. We have a lot to consider over the next couple of months."

City Council may choose to review the commission's decision and consequently set up a showdown with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose administration has helped design it. The 13-member commission is comprised of seven people and the chairperson appointed by the mayor, five appointed by borough presidents and one appointed by the public advocate.

The Empire State Development Corporation approved the stadium redevelopment plan Jan. 19, also giving it more momentum.

A heated clash of opponents and proponents of the stadium preceded the planning commission's hearing. As members of Save Our Parks, an advocacy group that opposes the stadium plan, and other advocates held a press conference to voice their opposition, a group of about 20 men suddenly appeared and began shouting them down.

The two groups then faced off on the sidewalk with tempers flaring.
"Save our parks!" opponents shouted to the workers. "We want jobs!" the supporters shouted back. After about an hour, police arrived and separated the groups.

The hearing itself featured presentations by 62 people. It included the stadium's major proponents - the Yankees and the Bronx Borough President - and a number of community residents, parks advocates and good government groups opposed to it. A number of groups from the South Bronx that have benefited from the Yankees' financial support stood up for the organization as did some small business owners.

"Why do we have to sacrifice the parks so the Yankees can make more money?" said Edward Harris, who grew up in the neighborhood. "You can have everything south of 161st Street. Why do you have to take our parks?"
Proponents of the plan pointed mainly to its economic impact, which they said would be positive. Opponents pointed to several points against it, from the loss of the parkland to the negative effects on health to the false promises of jobs to the loss of the current stadium, which many consider a landmark.

Parkland to be lost

If approved, the plan would allow the Yankees to build a new stadium on the southern end of John Mullaly Park and to use much of McComb Dams Park for parking garages. In June, state legislators and then City Council voted to "alienate" the parks, allowing the city to use the space for something other than recreational purposes.

Local residents had virtually no time to oppose the transfer, they said, and organized a campaign against the stadium afterward.

The stadium plan calls for the replacement of parkland that would be destroyed for the new stadium, but opponents said the replacement parkland is inferior. For one, they said, some of the new parkland is to be on top of new parking garages. Further, the new parkland would be scattered around the area, some of it far from people's homes.

"The loss of the parkland means the complete segregation of Highbridge from the other side of the Bronx," said Betty Robinson of Save Our Parks. "Don't Central Park and Mullaly Park have the same value? Mullaly Park is our Central Park and as such we are going to defend it."


Keeping the large open space of the parks would be significant in the fight against one of the South Bronx's worst health problems - asthma, experts said.

"Asthma is an epidemic in the South Bronx," said Dr. George Thurston of the New York University School of Medicine who led a five-year study of asthma in the South Bronx. "New York in general has a problem and the South Bronx has even a bigger problem, among the very worst."

The green space "is a buffer," Thurston said. "You'll be taking that away and creating traffic where there used to be a dilution area."


Proponents of the plan have a simple, one-word response when asked why they think a new stadium is a good idea: Jobs.

"This means jobs for local residents, construction contracts and ongoing business opportunities for local businesses, neighborhood beautification and a formalized structure for ensuring that these things take place," Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion told the commission.

But an analysis that the city only revealed after being forced to by an economic research organization paints a different picture of the economic impact. For one, many of the permanent jobs would be low-wage seasonal jobs, like selling hot dogs and T-shirts and waving people into parking spots. Further, the project would not generate tax revenues enough to cover the costs to tax payers.

"It's a costly and inefficient strategy for creating jobs," said Daniel Steinberg of Good Jobs New York, the organization that obtained the economic impact report prepared for the city. He pointed out that the construction jobs, which are temporary, would be created if the Yankees renovated or rebuilt the stadium or built it elsewhere instead of taking the parks.

"There's this perception that this is an important project for the city and the people of the South Bronx just have to deal with it," Steinberg said. "In reality, this projects a burden on all tax payers in New York and a nightmare for residents."


Political observers said they thought the new stadium plan would ultimately win approval from City Council. They said local politicians lacked the clout to stop the plan, particularly as Borough President Adolfo Carrion has strongly supported it.

The Yankees need a new stadium and are generally liked, the team brings lots of money into the city and the project would create significant numbers of construction jobs, said Joseph Mercurio, a political consultant and adjunct faculty at New York University.

Local residents can draw some hope from the fact that the plan to build a West Side Stadium for the New York Jets was ultimately derailed by intense local opposition, he said - but not much.

"The people on the West Side made a much bigger case," Mercurio said. He pointed out that opposition to the West Side Stadium included Council Member Christine Quinn, who is now the council speaker, and former State Assemblyman Scott Stringer, who is now Manhattan Borough President.
"The argument on the West Side was fairly compelling - it persuaded," he said. "There wasn't really a redeeming quality. The Jets weren't here and it was only the promise that they would come and make the city money. The Yankees are here and you can already calculate how much they make the city."

But most Highbridge residents are looking at it differently.

"We are not giving up," said Robinson of Save Our Parks. "The people of the community have woken up and everyone is willing to fight. This is an affront to us and they need to go back to the drawing board."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

1/31/6, Metro NY: "Residents balk at Yanks’ latest pitch"

Residents balk at Yanks’ latest pitch

by patrick arden / metro new york
JAN 31, 2006

WESTCHESTER SQUARE — Before a friendly audience at a chamber of commerce luncheon yesterday, New York Yankees president Randy Levine made his best case for building a new baseball stadium and parking garages in 22 acres of parkland opposite the House That Ruth Built.

The plan has met with fierce resistance from many residents, though the city has vowed to spend $130 million on replacement parks. When some objected to the scattered parcels swapped for Mullaly and McCombs Dam parks, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion laid out a plan for a central park augmented by a separate riverfront parcel with tennis courts beside the Major Deegan Expressway.

“This is the borough president’s new park,” said Levine, pointing to a sketch on a flat-screen television. “I want everyone to see, with their own eyes, the truth.”

The majority of the new parkland would be contiguous, he said, and “all parking is underground, for the most part,” so the new rooftop parks would be at street level.

“All new facilities,” Levine bragged. “A $130 million investment in the parks in the Bronx that everyone acknowledges would not have taken place without the new Yankee Stadium being built.”

Opponents still question the quality of these parks.

“This area has a high asthma rate — 2.5 times the city average — and they’re putting tennis courts next to the Major Deegan,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of New York City Park Advocates. “They’re taking natural parkland in the poorest Congressional district in the nation. It’s environmental racism.”

“I don’t worry about the community criticism — I welcome it,” said Levine, who complained that much of that criticism was coming from “professional protesters whose job is to protest.”

Community benefits

Levine said the $800 million stadium would be financed by the Yankees, calling it “the largest private investment in the history of the Bronx.” Not counting the cost of the parkland it will sit on, more than $200 million in government funding will also be required.

He said that was an investment in the community. “This project will create thousands of construction jobs and at least one thousand new jobs at the stadium,” Levine said. “Hear me, jobs will go to Bronx residents. Hear me, during construction we intend to use Bronx contractors, we intend to buy Bronx and we intend to interact during and after construction with Bronx businesses. Hear me, we intend to work with the communities of the Bronx.”

He vowed to enter into a binding community benefits agreement to provide services to the area.

“If there’s a community benefits agreement with the Yankees, it will be the borough president’s agreement,” said Community Board 4 member Pasquale Canale. “The community doesn’t want the stadium — they’d rather have the parks. I told the borough president that the board voted against the Yankees stadium, and he said it didn’t matter. He sold us out.”

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

2/01/06, Metro NY: "Taxpayers pick up tab for stadium demolition"

Taxpayers pick up tab for stadium demolition

Millions in city park funds to be used to tear down Yankee, Shea ballparks

by patrick arden / metro new york

FEB 1, 2006

BRONX — New York Yankees president Randy Levine likes to count the ways the Bronx community will benefit from the team’s new stadium project. At the top of his list is the city’s “$130 million investment” in replacement parkland.

But according to the Yankees’ Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the cost of replacement parks will be $103.3 million, not $130 million. That extra $27 million will go toward moving a water main and demolishing the House That Ruth Built.

“The demolition costs will come out of the parks’ money,” said Yankees spokesperson Alice McGillion.

That’s like double taxation, marveled Bettina Damiani of the fiscal policy watchdog group Good Jobs New York. “Taxpayers have to pay to tear down the current Yankee Stadium so the team can build a new one on parkland,” she said.

While the Yankees and the Mets will be financing the costs of building their new stadiums, the two projects are relying on more than $443 million in state and city subsidies. The price of wrecking Shea Stadium will be deducted from the $90 million that city taxpayers are handing over for “infrastructure costs,” according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Shea’s subsidies have gotten a lot less attention than the government money going to the Yankees, in part because the Bronx ballpark will be sitting on more than 22 acres of parkland.

This fact has sparked protests by residents, but Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion believes a community benefits agreement with the Yankees will end up helping the neighborhood, with “at least 25 percent” of construction contracts going to Bronx businesses. Levine also said the stadium will create “at least 1,000 new jobs.”

“By and large those permanent jobs are low-wage, seasonal jobs without career opportunities,” Damiani said. “It’s expensive to create bad jobs. Why are we going to invest millions of tax dollars in bad jobs, where workers will still have to rely on the government to pay for their health and child care? We’re doing this on behalf of one of the wealthiest franchises in professional sports.”

Editorial in Norwood News: "Stadium Push Has Feel of Instant Replay"

Editorial published in Norwood News on Jan 26 - Feb 8, 2006. Click on the above title to access the on-line copy.

Stadium Push Has Feel of Instant Replay

“It’s déjà vu all over again.” Yogi Berra said it and who knew it would be so applicable to the current controversy involving his old stomping grounds?

The juggernaut to destroy two south Bronx parks adjacent to Yankee stadium bears many of the same disturbing hallmarks, and even more troubling new ones, of the city’s almost Messianic push for a water filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park. Here’s a look at how the two projects compare:

The parks — A vote of the state legislature is necessary to allow a municipality to use parkland for a non-park use. That’s what saved Van Cortlandt Park the first time the city tried to site the plant in the park (they conveniently avoided that little step before the state’s highest court set them straight), but then the city sweetened the deal by offering lawmakers $200 million in Bronx park improvements. State legislators from the south Bronx seem to have exacted little in return for their voting to alienate Macombs Dam and Mullaly Parks. But they did seem to learn from the prior controversial alienation vote that the quickest way to alienate parkland is when nobody is looking. Months passed before opponents realized that the critical action had already taken place. Many filtration plant opponents said that alienating Van Cortlandt would set a precedent for other communities. It’s hard to argue with that assertion now.

The unions — At critical points in both battles, unions have bused in their members to pack hearing rooms and shout down community opponents. But at least community residents attending one of the last hearings on the Croton plant at Clinton High School could get in the door to get shouted down. After early-arriving union members packed the hearing room, many community residents were locked out of a recent stadium hearing at borough hall. In the case of the plant, the unions said many jobs would go to Bronx workers, but only 38 of 150 jobs are held by Bronxites. With the stadium, unions say the project would mean jobs, but opponents say those workers could replace the stadium at its current site. Sadly, no common ground between the underdog union movement and underdog residents of low-income neighborhoods has yet been identified on either project.

The air — Norwood residents continue to be concerned about the effect on asthmatics of seven years of digging, blasting and construction for the plant. At Yankee Stadium, much of the worry focuses on the permanent ill effects of new parking garages in the parks, which will accommodate 4,500 additional cars. More automobile exhaust in a neighborhood known for its sky-high asthma rate is setting off alarm bells among public health experts. And there’s no new Metro North station in the plan, as some have proposed, to provide an incentive to fans to leave their cars at home.

The borough president — Adolfo Carrión supported both plans, but he was a minor player on the filtration plant, which hinged on the Assembly delegation’s acquiescence. On the stadium, he’s been the borough’s chief cheerleader for the project even though some of his top priorities – e.g. a hotel, a Metro North station, and a skating rink – are not in the plan. His official recommendation to the City Planning Commission came with a wish list, but it’s non-binding. Will he get what he wants this way? Might he have had more luck if he told the team he wouldn’t support a plan that didn’t fit his bill? Time will tell.

The uphill battle — When the city and most of the relevant local elected officials want to do something, it’s very difficult to stop them. But there’s a new Council speaker who successfully fought the Jets stadium in her own neighborhood. And savvy local residents and park advocates have launched a blog, hired a P.R. firm, and banded together despite some differences among them. If, as a result, the Yankees don’t get to build their stadium and parking lots in city parks, that would be the biggest difference between the two projects.