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.


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