Friday, March 31, 2006

"Yanks support shaky?" MetroNY 03/31/06

Yanks support shaky?
Bronx delegation split, says community’s Council member

by patrick arden / metro new york

MAR 31, 2006

SOUTH BRONX — With days before the City Council vote on the proposed new Yankee Stadium, Councilwoman Helen Foster claimed the outcome remains uncertain.

“Many Council members have concerns, many more than the media realizes,” said Foster, who represents the Highbridge neighborhood and opposes the project. “The Bronx delegation isn’t completely on board yet. I don’t see how between now and Wednesday the issues that we have can be resolved.”

Her issues include the quality of replacement parkland, the four new garages and the expected increase in traffic, as well as the community benefits agreement, “or lack thereof,” still being negotiated between Bronx lawmakers and the Yankees.

“We’re not close to an acceptable proposal that would benefit the community,” Foster said. “I can very well see the Yankees having a new stadium, and the community still waiting down the line for these replacement parks.”

She floated the idea of building the ballpark south of the stadium, recalling a proposal by former mayor David Dinkins. Unfortunately, she said, part of that parcel now belongs to the planned Gateway Mall project at the Bronx Terminal Market.

“The administration pushed these two plans as being separate and apart from each other purely for money reasons,” she said. “Put the stadium on the waterfront — I don’t care where you put it. It doesn’t belong in the park closer to residential homes. There’s no other area in the city where someone could propose something like this and get away with it.

“A lot of Council members are looking to make a stand,” Foster said. “What happens with this vote on Wednesday is going to set the tone for development across the city. This is the time for us as a Council to decide what it is we’re going to stand for in terms of growth in this city.”

Hours before the full council votes on Wednesday, the project will be considered by a land-use subcommittee. Its chairman, Dan Garodnick, D-Manhattan, asked Yankees’ president Randy Levine this week about alternatives to taking away parkland.

“His reasons were that the footprint of the current stadium was too small and that the Yankees did not want to bear the expense and inconvenience of playing in Queens,” he said. “But in response to my questions, it became clear that this is really a matter of money. I still have some concerns.”

Taking it to court

BRONX — Joyce Hogi, a 62-year-old widow who lives three blocks away from Macombs Dam Park, is a member of Save Our Parks. The group held a fund-raiser on the Grand Concourse last week and used the proceeds to hire a lawyer.

“A few hundred people showed up, but we got donations from so many others,” she said. “We’re hoping for a political solution, but if it doesn’t happen we’re prepared to go to court.”

“If this gets dragged through the courts, it could be years,” said Baruch College professor Neil Sullivan. “Construction costs will keep going up, and it will become too expensive to build. That’s what killed the Westway.”

Thursday, March 30, 2006

"Where could the Yanks go?" MetroNY 03/30/06

Where could the Yanks go?
Without a new stadium, Bombers threaten to move

by patrick arden / metro new york

MAR 30, 2006

BRONX — When the state agreed to provide $149 million for the Yankees and the Mets to build new stadiums, it secured guarantees from the teams to remain in New York City for 40 years.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, told Metro last week that securing this pledge was a major accomplishment: “You’re getting a 40-year commitment from both teams to stay.”

But were the Yankees or the Mets planning to leave? The city’s Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Yankee Stadium discounts the threat: “The EIS does not claim that the Yankees would move from the Bronx if they do not receive approval to build a new stadium.”

Staying put

That’s not what Yankees president Randy Levine said after getting grilled by City Council members on Tuesday. He had touted the benefits agreement the team is reaching with Bronx elected officials, but outside of the Council chambers he said: “If this isn’t good enough, then I think it sends a signal that we’re just not going to build in New York City anymore.”

“Where’s he going to build?” asked Baruch College professor Neil Sullivan, author of “The Diamond in the Bronx: Yankee Stadium and the Politics of New York.”

“I live in Yonkers, and there used to be talk the Yankees might come up to the Raceway, but the Raceway is now being loaded up with video lottery terminals,” he said. “The old pipe dream was the Yankees would go over to the Meadowlands, but I think that wouldn’t make business sense.

“When the Giants and the Jets went to the Meadowlands, they were still in the same market,” Sullivan said. “Let’s say you go to Yankee Stadium or Shea from Westchester or Long Island, you can still go on a Sunday afternoon to the Meadowlands. But those same people won’t go to the Meadowlands on a Tuesday night — the Yankees would be leaving their market. If the Yankees leave, why wouldn’t the league put another team in the city? Then not only would the Yankees lose their market but they’d have a new competitor. I don’t think that makes any sense at all.”

Inferiority complex

Jon Orcutt, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, believes the no-flight clause makes the Yankees’ deal sound like a corporate retention agreement. Last week he signed on to a letter opposing the stadium project, along with 10 other good-government groups, including the Regional Plan Association, the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense.

“The city still suffers from an inferiority complex — if anybody wants to build here, we’ll roll out the red carpet and do whatever he wants,” he said. “The fact is, everyone wants to be here; it’s the place to be, and we can have some influence over how things are done.”

"Ex-Yank Bouton cries foul" MetroNY 03/30/06

Ex-Yank Bouton cries foul

by patrick arden / metro new york

MAR 30, 2006

MANHATTAN — When pitching its new stadium proposal to a City Council subcommittee on Tuesday, the New York Yankees relied on the star power of ex-slugger Reggie Jackson, who now works as a team executive.

That same day, another former Yankee great posted a different suggestion on his Web site, “Instead of acting as cheerleaders for this trashing of history, former Yankee players should plan to lie down in front of the bulldozers.”

“All those guys who they use to promote stadiums are on the payroll,” complained Jim Bouton, reached at his home in Massachusetts.

His last book, “Foul Ball,” told the story of his own unsuccessful attempt to save a historic minor league ballpark in Pittsfield, Mass. It’s just been released in an expanded paperback edition by Lyons Press.

“They wanted to build a new $18 million, publicly financed stadium in the center of town — a stadium people had voted against three different times,” he recalled. “They rejected our plan to restore the old ballpark with private funds, because it would have put a stake in the heart of their stadium dream.

“That’s why most of the old stadiums get torn down,” Bouton explained.

“Unions are behind it — they say it gives jobs. They don’t march in front of a school, though, and say ‘Let’s get the city to build classrooms.’

“I don’t know how a businessman can walk into a community with overcrowded schools and ask that city for a dime,” he said. “That’s what’s happening in New York City. In Pittsfield they were turning out streetlights; in New York City they’re closing firehouses. The city’s in this huge debt mode, and they’re going to spend hundreds of millions on a stadium?”

Not surprisingly, Bouton has strong opinions about the Yankees’ plan, which he’s been following in the press.

“Breaking up the park, and putting some of it on top of parking garages, is another horrible thing,” he said. “The city should simply say, ‘No, you’ve drawn 4 million people last year. You’re the most successful sports franchise in the country. You don’t need this, and the city doesn’t need it.’

“There’s no consideration given to the neighborhood. The plan’s been presented as a done deal. People don’t get a chance to vote on it. The city can’t put it to a vote — people would vote against it.”

Bouton grew up in New Jersey and didn’t set foot in Yankee Stadium until he was on the team. “I don’t like what they did in the 1970s renovation, but now it will be ruined even further,” he said. “I don’t know where they got that new design — it’s just ugly.”

Who’s Jim Bouton?

• He began his major league career with the Yankees in 1962, where he became an All-Star pitcher, winning 21 and 18 games before injuring his arm in 1965.

• He wrote the best-seller “Ball Four” which was noted for its humorous and unflattering depiction of baseball. MLB commissioner Bowie Kuhn slammed the book as “detrimental” to the sport.

• He invented Big League Chew.

"It's Porkball for Yankees and the Bronx" NY Times 03/30/06

It's Porkball for Yankees and the Bronx

By JOYCE PURNICK in New York Times, March 30, 2006, Metro Matters Section

WELL into a City Council hearing this week on the proposal for a new Yankee Stadium, one of the lawmakers recalled why he and his colleagues were there in the first place. "The name of this here issue is not black, not white, it's green," said the councilman, Thomas White Jr. of Queens.

At least someone in that Council chamber got it right. For most of the afternoon on Tuesday, the long, emotional hearing resembled more of an encounter group than a legislative session.

It got so heated that it was often hard to figure out exactly what Council critics of the team's plan really wanted, so avidly did they take advantage of the setting to rail at the Yankees.

"You're smiling as if you hit a home run, but from where I sit, it is a foul ball," Councilwoman Helen Diane Foster of the Bronx told Reggie Jackson, a special Yankees adviser who testified in support of the team's plan for a new $800 million stadium.

Councilman Charles Barron of Brooklyn, the former Black Panther, dropped in long enough to deliver one of his familiar diatribes. "This is not about baseball, this is about trust," Mr. Barron said, asking the team president, Randy Levine, how many "people of color" held decision-making jobs with the Yankees but cutting him off before he could fully answer.

It kept on like that for hours — pointed exchange after pointed exchange, with attempts at peacemaking mixed in. "I'm for people of color, I'm a man of color," Mr. Jackson said, offering to help the Bronx community deal with the Yankees and its mercurial principal owner, George Steinbrenner. "I'm at your service," he said, exchanging business cards with Ms. Foster.

Shortly after that touching moment, Councilman White made his reference to greenery — the financial kind, because this is a development project, after all. The Bloomberg administration and the Bronx borough president, Adolfo Carrión Jr., pronounce it a good deal, while Council critics — probably not enough of them to stop the project in a vote next week — disagree.

Lawmakers could have examined basic issues on Tuesday, but emotions got in the way. At times, it seemed as if the baseball team had become the convenient target for anger and frustration about fundamental problems that still plague the Bronx.

DESPITE improvements in recent years, the borough is still, as Bronx lawmakers kept saying, troubled by high rates of poverty, unemployment and poor health.

Surely not even the harshest of the Yankees' detractors could think that a baseball team has the ability to eradicate poverty and urban disease, although the team is an oasis of wealth, celebrity and power, and Mr. Steinbrenner has a history of playing hard and fast with the city. The result is resentment.

But there are some obvious concerns, though not examined in any depth. Council critics of the plan want the Metro-North station renovated to discourage driving and favor creating fewer parking spaces (though the stadium neighborhood is flooded with cars on game days right now).

They also want more parkland to compensate for the 22 acres that would go to the new stadium, and more job guarantees. The team has committed to making sure that at least a quarter of the plan's construction jobs and new permanent jobs go to Bronx residents.

There is another avenue of suspicion, unexplored on Tuesday but discussed plenty around City Hall: the Yankee plan for community resources, specifically how they will be distributed, and to whom.

The team would provide, in each of 40 years, $700,000 in cash grants for community organizations, $100,000 for maintenance of parks in the stadium area, $100,000 worth of equipment for youth and sports groups, and 15,000 Yankee tickets for the community.

A nonprofit group headed by a "person of stature," as Mr. Levine put it, would determine who gets the team's largess. The group would be made up of people selected by the Yankees and Bronx elected officials.

To help sell the city on its stadium plan, the Yankees felt compelled to hire the lawyer for the Bronx Democratic organization, Stanley K. Schlein, and a consulting group headed by the former Bronx Democratic leader, Roberto Ramirez. So there is some understandable concern around town, not just in the Bronx — about what would, if it were government money, be called pork.

As the councilman said, the name of the issue is green, even if reduced to the inevitable black and white.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

General Meeting, March 30 Thursday @ 6pm

General Meeting

March 30, 2006, Thursday
Hope of Israel Senior Center
840 Gerard Avenue

We had a stellar day at the City Council on March 28!!! Check out the newspaper reports in today's blog.

Now we move forward to the next step.

"Yanks' Stadium Deal Not Over Till It's Over" in Village Voice blog, 3/29/6

Yanks' Stadium Deal Not Over Till It's Over

By Neil deMause | March 29, 2006

"Before I start, I would just like to take a minute and show you a very quick video," Yankees president Randy Levine began his testimony to the city council at Tuesday's hearing on the team's $1.2 billion plan for a new stadium in what's now Macombs Dam Park. With Steinbrenner consultant/sometime nemesis Reggie Jackson at his side, Levine unspooled a promo video that featured current team stars proclaiming: "I play for the New York Yankees—and I'm proud to play in the Bronx."

It went over like a lead balloon, with both Bronx rep Helen Diane Foster and Brooklyn's Charles Barron calling the spectacle "insulting." (Even Bronx prez and Yankee pal Adolfo Carrion agreed.) Clearly no one was forgetting the Yanks' long history of disdain for their surroundings—both Foster and Maria del Carmen Arroyo, the two councilmembers whose districts would be most directly impacted by the stadium plan, warned that it was hard to give the ballclub the benefit of the doubt, with Foster comparing the Yankees' treatment of its Bronx 'hood to an abuser, "Asking the ones that have been abused to 'trust me one more time.'"

Just as clearly, though, the council showed no intention of making tough demands in exchange for the $400-million-plus in public subsidies the Yankees are looking for. Despite some harsh words, Foster and Arroyo (daughters of longtime Bronx pols Wendell Foster and Carmen Arroyo) spoke mostly about tweaking the plan to ease traffic and provide more money for Bronx parks—leaving the impression that if the Yankees can find it in their hearts to buy the Bronx some flowers, all will be forgiven.

As for their Bronx constituents, those on hand minced fewer words once they got their turn at the mic. (Public testimony didn't start until more than three hours into the hearing, then was delayed still further when it turned out the council chambers were booked for another event, and the whole proceedings had to decamp across the street, leaving most of the press corps behind.) "I think it's very telling that all of the pro-Yankee supporters [here] do not live in the neighborhood," said longtime Grand Concourse resident and Save Our Parks co-founder Joyce Hogi, in an oblique rebuke to Carrion's statement on yesterday's Brian Lehrer Show that "outside agitators" were to blame for opposition to the project. "We're not opposed to economic development, but this project is not about economic development—it's about a land grab from a disenfranchised community. There is no amount of community benefit agreement that can mitigate the giving up of public parkland to a private enterprise."

Even the stadium land-use plan is approved by the council as expected next Wednesday, though, it still faces additional hurdles. First up is an April 7 council hearing on the complicated finance plan that would allow the Mets and Yanks to evade IRS restrictions on tax-exempt bonds. (This dodge is expected to cost the public about $255 million, hitting mostly federal taxpayers.) And beyond that, the National Park Service still must sign off on whether the new parkland being created is of equal "usefulness and location" compared to the 22 acres of existing parkland that would be displaced.

"There are no shortcuts," the Park Service official in charge of approvals told Metro New York yesterday, saying the process could take anywhere from weeks to a year. "We have a responsibility to follow the law." Even, presumably, if Randy Levine buys them flowers.

"Parks law may trip up Yankee Stadium" in Metro NY, 3/28/6

Parks law may trip up Yankee Stadium

by patrick arden / metro new york

MAR 28, 2006

MANHATTAN — When the City Council holds its first public meeting today on the proposed new Yankee Stadium, a little-known federal law will hang over the proceedings. It could derail the project, or at least slow it down.

In May 1979, the National Park Service gave $422,650 for improvements at Macombs Dam Park, and this grant gives the agency final say over whether the Yankees can use 22 acres of parkland for a new stadium.

The Yankees want to build the new ballpark next to the current one because “there wouldn’t be revenues coming in” if the team moved to Shea Stadium, as it had during its 1970s renovation, team president Randy Levine has said.

But this reasoning may not meet the federal requirements set forth in the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, which says a park receiving federal money can be converted to another use only if “all practical alternatives” have been evaluated. The converted parkland must also be replaced with parks of equal value, “usefulness and location.”

“There’s no way they can meet this criteria because elected officials made a deal that didn’t allow an exploration of alternatives,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates.

City Parks Department spokes-man Warner Johnston said “a final determination is expected” by May 1.

“It’s entirely unlikely something will be approved by then,” said Jack Howard, LWCF manager at the National Park Service. Howard is still waiting on the state’s proposal.

"Threats fly at Yankees hearing" MetroNY 03/29/06

Threats fly at Yankees hearing

by patrick arden / metro new york

MAR 29, 2006

CITY HALL — The biggest surprise at yesterday’s hearing on the new Yankee Stadium plan happened in the hallway outside the City Council chambers, when a red-faced Randy Levine played his trump card before the last hand is over.

After detailing the jobs and benefits that come with a new ballpark, the team president threw up his hands, saying, “If this isn’t good enough, then I think it sends a signal that we’re just not going to build in New York City anymore.”

That came after Levine showed Council members a video detailing how “the Yankees have long been synonymous with the Bronx and its people.”

“This is what this project is about: the Yankees and the Bronx,” Levine said.

“I personally am insulted by the video,” said City Council member Helen Foster, who represents the neighborhood and opposes the plan to build on 22 acres of parkland. “Up until this point, the Yankees organization has not been good neighbors. Why now should we in the community say, ‘OK, we’re going to trust you’? It’s a little disingenuous given that you’re doing this in return for something.”

The standing-room-only meeting of the land-use subcommittee ad-journed without a vote. Members will reconvene on April 5, just before the full Council is supposed to vote on the stadium plan.

"Yanks call up Jackson to pitch stadium, meet vocal opposition" MetroNY 03/29/06

Yanks call up Jackson to pitch stadium, meet vocal opposition

by patrick arden / metro new york

MAR 29, 2006

CITY HALL — The Yankees called on Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson yesterday to dazzle a City Council subcommittee considering the team’s proposed $1.2 billion stadium project. But instead of pitching soft balls, Council members hurled heat.

Jackson and Yankees president Randy Levine were peppered with hard questions regarding the proposed stadium’s use of parkland and tax-exempt city financing, the lack of community outreach, the four new garages and the resulting traffic in an area known for its high asthma rate.

Subcommittee chairman Daniel Garodnick asked why the team couldn’t play in Shea Stadium while a new ballpark was built on the site of the current one, and the Council’s economic development chair Thomas White bluntly wondered, “What benefit will come from this stadium?”

Jackson, who works for the Yankees and does “what I’m told,” professed to share the serious concerns of the largely black and Latino community that lives near the stadium.

“I am first a minority,” he said sincerely, before joking, “When Randy asked me to come a couple of days ago, I didn’t know I’d signed up for an 0-and-2 count.”

The stadium plan has been depicted as a done deal, with the support of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. George Pataki and most Bronx elected officials. But the project has met with bitter opposition from residents who live near the parks that will be taken away. At a protest before the Council hearing, resident Geneva Causey accused Bronx politicians of playing “plantation overseer” for the team.

“The Yankees weren’t always a good partner in the Bronx,” admitted Jackson, who said community members now had a chance to “create a new template” to “get what you want” and “share in the revenue.”

Jackson claimed George Steinbrenner was now trying to make amends. “There is some embarrassment in the Yankees,” he said. “The Steinbrenner family has financial wherewithal to make things happen. I see an opportunity now to get engaged, and to ask the Yankees to help you.”

“We understand what it takes to be a member of the community,” said Levine. “All we can do is commit to trying to do more.”

“It’s an uneven relationship, and it’s almost abusive,” said the neighborhood’s Council member, Helen Foster, who opposes the project. “You’re asking the one who has been abused to ‘trust me one more time.’

“This project and whether it goes through or not is going to set a tone for development throughout this city. And right now, while it looks like it’s a Bronx issue, it’s soon to be a Brooklyn and Manhattan issue.”

"Pols Pepper Yank Reggie" NY Post 03/029/06



March 29, 2006 -- City Council members tangled yesterday with former Yankee slugger Reggie Jackson, as the team tried to win approval for its plans for a new stadium.

The legislators branded the Yankee presentation as insulting and lambasted the organization for routinely failing the South Bronx.

The Hall of Famer urged lawmakers to back the new stadium, although no council vote was taken yesterday.

"While I appreciate what you said, Mr. Jackson, I think it's a day late and a dollar short," fumed Councilwoman Helen Foster (D-Bronx).

"Pitchman Reggie bats for Stadium" NY Daily News 03/29/06

Pitchman Reggie bats for Stadium
Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

Reggie Jackson was Mr. March for the Yankees yesterday as he helped pitch the Bombers' planned new ballpark at a City Council hearing - but the proposal got a Bronx cheer from opponents.

The Yankees want a new $800 million stadium on parkland near their current home but the plan has drawn fire from Bronx residents and officials upset over the loss of green space.

"I am first a minority," said Jackson. "The Yankees weren't always really a good partner in the Bronx."

But Jackson, a paid adviser to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, argued the team is now reaching out to the community - and urged Council members to forge a "partnership" agreement with the Boss.

Mr. October was told his sales pitch before the planning subcommittee was "a day late and a dollar short" by Councilwoman Helen Foster (D-Bronx), who has been a sharp critic of aspects of the stadium plan.

The Yankees have pledged to provide at least 25% of the 900 permanent new jobs created by the stadium to local residents. They have also offered to spend about $700,000 a year for 40 years on youth and other community programs.

The Council is facing a deadline of next Wednesday for approving required land-use and lease arrangements.

Votes by the planning subcommittee and its parent Land Use Committee are required before the full Council can vote.

Yesterday's hearing ended without a vote, increasing the suspense of what will happen when the full Council takes up the issue next week.

"Jackson Testifies for New Yankee Stadium" NY Times 03/29/06

Jackson Testifies for New Yankee Stadium

Filed at 9:37 p.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson testified Tuesday when the New York Yankees pushed their proposal for a new $800 million ballpark before a City Council subcommittee.

Jackson, who acts as an adviser to the Yankees, said he'd had his share of fights with owner George Steinbrenner. And he said he knew the relationship between the Yankees and the neighborhood wasn't always great.

''You can't change the past,'' he said. ''I do think there's an opportunity to engage with people who are trying to help.''

Jackson's testimony added drama to a packed hearing that had plenty of emotion but wasn't even expected to result in a vote. Various committee and full council votes on the 53,000-seat stadium plans are expected on April 5.

Jackson's entreaties that city leaders ''engage'' with Yankees officials pushing for a new South Bronx stadium across from their current one caused some council members to bristle.

''It's an uneven relationship, and it's almost abusive,'' said Councilwoman Helen Foster, who represents the Bronx neighborhood.

She cited longtime stresses on the impoverished neighborhood -- traffic among them -- resulting from the Yankees' presence. She questioned whether the current plans were taking Yankees fans' concerns more seriously than those of Bronx residents.

Linda Florence, who lives near the stadium, said she didn't mind the Yankees getting a new ballpark. But she's worried about the loss of green space in a neighborhood where it's scarce.

''Don't take away the parks that are central to our neighborhood,'' she told the council.

Adam Arce, who works in security for the Yankees, said a new ballpark would be a boost for the team and nearby businesses.

''This is a trigger,'' he said. ''This is a starting point.''

Councilman Charles Barron, questioning the Yankees' commitment to the largely minority neighborhood, asked team president Randy Levine how many upper echelon ballclub officials were minorities. Levine said he found the question ''offensive.''

Jackson, who is black, said repeatedly that he was ''first, a minority,'' and that he sympathized with the concerns about the impact on the neighborhood.

The stadium plans have catapulted through the usual political and bureaucratic channels since being introduced last June, getting support from the mayor, the Bronx borough president and the city's planning commission. The city and the state are pitching in $215 million to improve infrastructure and assist with bonds.

The biggest issue involves the loss of parkland to the new stadium. Critics say that proposed replacement parks are inconvenient and too scattered.

"Stadium Plan Criticized at Hearing" NY Times 03/29/06


The New York Yankees were on the defensive yesterday at a packed City Council hearing on their proposal to build a new $800 million stadium in the Bronx. Randy Levine, president of the Yankees, sought to emphasize the team's long history in the Bronx by showing a short video featuring Yankee players. Reggie Jackson, who is now a special adviser to the team, testified in support of the stadium. But Councilwoman Helen Diane Foster, whose district includes the South Bronx, and several other council members criticized the team for not doing more to help the community surrounding the stadium, which remains one of the poorest in the nation. Supporters say the stadium will bring new jobs and revitalize the Bronx, while opponents say that it will take away valuable parkland. The City Council is expected to vote on the stadium on April 5. WINNIE HU (NYT)

"Critics, supporters of Yankee stadium proposal spar at hearing" Am-NY 03/29/06

Critics, supporters of Yankee stadium proposal spar at hearing
Newsday Staff Writer

March 29, 2006

One of the Yankees' all-time heaviest hitters faced a hostile home crowd at a public hearing Tuesday on the team's proposed new $800-million state-of-the-art stadium in the Bronx.

"When Randy asked me to do this, I didn't know we were 2 and 0," quipped Reggie Jackson, the Hall of Fame slugger who is a team adviser, referring to Randy Levine, president of the Yankees.

The Yankees have offered a trust of $28 million and $200,000 a year in givebacks -- which Levine described as the most generous private investment in a community in city history -- for the right to build the new stadium on existing parkland.

"Ask for help, and I do believe you will get it," Jackson, 60, told members of a City Council subcommittee in a speech that touched on his own experiences driving through Harlem and on Yankee owner George Steinbrenner's gruff exterior but soft heart. "I do look for you to become engaged, and I do look for the Yankees to respond to your request, if you look them in the eye and ask."

Though many Bronx leaders support the new stadium, others fault the Yankees for not giving enough, and for failing to give more in leaner years.

"I look around and I see the Yankee organization and the Yankee fans smiling as though you hit a home run, and from where I'm sitting it looks like a foul ball," said Councilwoman Helen Foster (D-Bronx) who represents the district where Yankee Stadium is located and said she plans to vote against the deal. "It is a very different Bronx County than when you were here, Mr. October. ... This is the richest team in baseball, and you should have been doing this generous package years ago."

The subcommittee will vote next week, followed by the full council. In a statement released late Tuesday, Councilwoman Maria Baez, head of the council's Bronx delegation, said "negotiations with the Yankees are progressing towards conclusion."

The deal's sticking points include the destruction of parkland -- the city will spend $130 million under the plan to create slightly more parkland nearby, but opponents counter that the parks are too far away and should not be built atop a parking garage -- and the addition of about 3,000 parking spots, which residents fear will increase traffic.

Tuesday's hearing drew a raucous standing-room-only crowd, with an audience full of hard hats and Yankees hats that was frequently admonished for cheers, boos and cries of "Keep it real, Reggie." It turned at times into a referendum on race as Jackson, who described himself as "a minority first," sparred with some council members.

Levine was grilled about how many minority executives the Yankees employ, sparking a shouting match, and Councilman Tom White (D-Queens) digressed briefly about differences between blacks, whites and Latinos.

"The Yankees have been in the Bronx for 83 years, and the South Bronx is designated as the most impoverished county in the nation," said Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn). "Why do we think that we're going to be treated right after they didn't treat us right for 83 years?"

"Councilman, I would say you're probably short on your years. Most of the people would think that we've been not treated well for an awfully long time," Jackson replied.

"City Council Committee Weighs New Yankee Stadium Plan" on NY1, 3/28/6

City Council Committee Weighs New Yankee Stadium Plan

March 28, 2006

The battle over the proposed new Yankee stadium was waged both inside and outside City Hall Tuesday.

Inside, the City Council Land Use committee held hearings on the plan, while outside both supporters and opponents rallied.

Those in favor of the stadium say it will bring much needed jobs to the Bronx.

"We understand that any time things are being built it always has a plight of disarray for a little bit, but in time when it is all finished and done we believe in building it and putting the people to work," said a supporter.

The Yankees have committed $800 million to the project with the city and state picking up infrastructure costs.

Plans call for the stadium to be built in Macombs Dam Park with work beginning later this year.

But community groups say the baseball park will be built too close to homes. They also argue a plan to replace park space lost by the new stadium is inadequate.

"Our park land our community must not be allowed to be destroyed because the wealthiest sports team in the country won't make as much money if they play elsewhere for three seasons,” said an opponent. “The current Yankee Stadium plan is beyond absurd."

Monday, March 27, 2006

"Steinbrenner Meets New Tammany" in The NY Sun, 3/24/6

Steinbrenner Meets New Tammany

March 24, 2006

George Washington Plunkitt, whose life and philosophy were chronicled by journalist William L. Riordan (in part in the pages of this newspaper's forebear), would approve of events in the Bronx in recent days.

Plunkitt was a New York political leader at a time when the men who ran government did so not from City Hall, or the Albany Statehouse, but from a building on East 14th Street known as Tammany Hall. Plunkitt was the Tammany District Leader of the 15th Assembly District, and conducted his business from a bootblack stand in the New York County Courthouse. He was born poor on the Upper West Side in 1842, and passed on 82 years later, a rich and powerful man.

Riordan's masterpiece, written in Plunkitt's voice, was published in 1905 as "Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics," but is known today simply as "Plunkitt of Tammany Hall." It is still widely assigned in political science classrooms all over America. The book may be a century old, but its lessons are fresh and have not been lost on today's crop of politicians. While its physical presence has receded into history, the concept of Tammany is alive and well.

Just ask George M. Steinbrenner III, the principal owner of the New York Yankees. His pocket has just been picked to the tune of $28 million by today's Tammany, in a modern version of what Plunkitt called "honest graft."

In the most famous essay in the book, Plunkitt defines honest graft. He suggests that if a savvy politico gets advance word that a park is contemplated and buys up all the property in that area, selling to the city for a premium, the profit is honest graft. "I might sum up the whole thing by sayin': I seen my opportunities and I took 'em."

For a while, Mr. Steinbrenner expended enormous efforts to move his team from the south Bronx. It clearly stuck in his craw that the most enduring image of the 1977 World Series was not the Yankee victory powered by the bat of Reggie Jackson, but the images of fires destroying the surrounding community.

Efforts to relocate to the team to the Jersey Meadowlands and then, with the connivance of Mayor Giuliani, to a new stadium on Manhattan's West Side, fell flat. Meanwhile, the Bronx stopped burning and large tracts of the south Bronx were restored, thanks to an ambitious housing program put in place by Mayor Koch.

Despite the problems of the surrounding neighborhood, attendance at the stadium soared to record highs. Mr. Steinbrenner resigned himself to a future in the Bronx, and a deal was cut to build a new stadium on parkland adjacent to the current site, replaced by new parks in the immediate vicinity.

To most of us in the Bronx, the loss of the Yankees would be a blow of unimaginable magnitude, the confirmation that the borough is beyond salvation. But, as Mayor Bloomberg is fond of saying, this is New York. Fueled by left-wing groups that oppose economic development in the Bronx, and environmentalists who view parkland as sacred in perpetuity, a movement to stop the stadium project has gathered steam.

Enter the New Tammany. To run interference for him, Mr. Steinbrenner has hired the Mirram Group for $301,900 to lobby on behalf of the project. Mirram is headed by the former Bronx County Democratic boss, Roberto Ramirez, best known as the architect of Fernando Ferrer's "Two New Yorks" strategy. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has paid large monthly retainers to Mirram for years, seen by some as akin to paying protection money to ensure minority support. Mirram clients always seem to win the endorsement of the Bronx Democratic machine.

To ensure the continued support of Bronx public officials, a scheme has been concocted to have the Yankees set up a $28 million trust fund to be run by "an individual of prominence" selected by a group appointed by Bronx political leaders. Would it surprise anyone if the "individual of prominence" dispenses the largesse to the groups that pledge fealty to the party bosses?

Also in play is the dispensing of the construction jobs generated by the new project, and 15,000 tickets a year to Yankee games. An opponent of the stadium plan who is estranged from the Bronx Democratic organization, Councilwoman Helen Foster, called this a case of the "fox guarding the chicken coop."

Two weeks ago, a meeting was held between the commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Emily Lloyd, and Bronx political leaders regarding the construction jobs at the massive Croton Water Filtration Plant being built under Van Cortlandt Park. Ms. Lloyd promised that an increasing number of the jobs will be made available to Bronx residents, and that these opportunities would be made known to the elected officials. Lest there be doubt of what such a promise means, the person conducting the negotiation for the elected officials was the Bronx Democratic Party's lawyer, Stanley Schlein.

Political support for good projects such as the new stadium or the proposed BJ's Wholesale Club comes at a price. Last year, Councilmembers Maria Baez and Joel Rivera opposed the BJ's project. But when Ms. Baez, who had no serious opposition in the last election, received $18,000 in campaign contributions (a figure that city matching funds turned into more than $30,000), and Mr. Rivera got nearly $5,000, they both had a change of heart. Is this "honest graft?" You be the judge.

Rather than the traditional Thanksgiving turkeys, the new Tammany will dispense construction jobs, grants to community groups, and even Yankee tickets to ensure a steady stream of voters and campaign workers who owe allegiance to the party. George Washington Plunkitt might say, "They saw their opportunities and they took 'em."

"Showdown for proposed Yankee Stadium", Newsday, 3/27/6

Showdown for proposed Yankee Stadium


March 27, 2006, 4:54 PM EST

The plan to build a new Yankee stadium on city parkland faces a critical vote Tuesday.

If the City Council Land Use committee approves the plan, it will goes to the full council, which is expected to vote on it April 5.

The plan for an $800 million stadium has drawn intense opposition from Bronx residents who say it will take away essential parkland in an area with high rates of asthma. Opponents say that replacement parks that the city would build for more than $100 million would be too scattered. They also say that proposed artificial turf fields built atop parking garages will be inadequate.

If the council approves the stadium, the grassroots opposition group Save Our Parks is prepared to sue.

"The community will use every resource necessary to fight this irresponsible plan," said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, an organization that is helping the group.

Yankees officials and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión have said the new stadium would be a boon to the South Bronx.

"There's been a lot of public support," said Alice McGillion of Rubenstein Associates, which represents the Yankees.

Some opponents have advocated that the Yankees build a new ballpark at team's current location and play at Shea Stadium during construction, as they did in the mid-1970s when the Bronx stadium was renovated. But the mayor called that idea impratical yesterday.

"They both have their own interests of, you know, team spirit, and sharing stadiums is not something that's done easily," Bloomberg said.

Map of Yankee Stadium plan

Click the title to see an amazing mapped image of the Yankee plan courtesy of onNYTurf. The map is quite complex, and gives a profound understanding of what the plan means for the community, but let's let the amazing onNYTurf explain (you will find a more complete explanation at the actual onNYTurf site. Go to

The Yankee proposal is a complex plan, with a lot of details. Details which the NYC media and city council thus far have given the Yankees a free pass on (for the most part - no, I know not you Gotham Gazette). Accordingly this google map is quite complex, and so I ask your patience to learn how the map works so that you can understand the Yankee proposal and its potential implications.

The map is really five maps in one. Each map shows different information. Each can be accessed by clicking their respective buttons in the upper right corner of the map. The five maps are:

The Before map shows the current configuration of park land and Yankee stadium operations

The After map shows the swap of property the Yankees are proposing.

This is a rendering from the Yankees.

This highlights both the park topped parking garages as well as another new garage that would go in the middle of the large park.

Part of the proposal places new parks on the waterfront. The Routes map in association with a number of small red markers show the possible ways to reach this area. Reaching this area is extremely difficult, and it is a very long distance from the residential community.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

"Ballpark or parkland? Vote due on new Yankee Stadium" Sports Illustrated.CNN, 3/25/6

Ballpark or parkland? Vote due on new Yankee Stadium

Posted: Friday Mar 24, 2006 2:13 PM

NEW YORK (AP) - Community activists and critics of a proposed $800 million ballpark for the New York Yankees are discovering what teams across the American League already knew: It's tough to stop the Bronx Bombers. Especially when they're at home.

Since the new stadium plan was unveiled last June, it's moved across the New York landscape with more velocity than a Randy Johnson fastball. Land quickly was set aside, the Bronx borough president approved and the City Planning Commission OK'd replacing the House That Ruth Built with a new 53,000-seat stadium.

"This is like something Robert Moses did years ago,'' said stadium opponent Lukas Herbert of the Bronx, referring to the unstoppable urban planner of the city's past. "These guys are going around saying, `This is what we're going to do. If you don't like it, you can get three minutes at a public hearing and go away.'''

If the committee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions approves the plan, it moves on to a full council vote set for April 5. The Yankees are hopeful of starting construction during the upcoming baseball season; the city and state are pitching in $400 million for infrastructure improvement and assistance with bonds.

City officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, argue the stadium is more boon than boondoggle. The new Yankee Stadium should provide "thousands of new jobs and play a major role in the revitalization of the South Bronx,'' Janel Patterson, spokeswoman for the city's Economic Development Corp., said in a statement last month.

The most contentious issue in the debate involves the loss of parkland. In a neighborhood once held up as the epitome of urban disintegration, Macombs Dam Park and Mullaly Park long provided much-needed green space - but those areas will disappear beneath the new construction.

Replacement parks will be created, but critics complain the new space is too scattered and inconvenient.

"There are a million issues here,'' griped David Gratt, a member of the anti-ballpark Friends of Yankee Stadium. "Twenty-two acres of public parkland (used) without consulting the public. Despite what supporters of the project say, this is actually going to lose $200 million over 40 years, not make money.

"And this is an enormous enterprise being subsidized by the city to make an even larger profit.''

Local paranoia was further raised by how quickly the Yankee proposal moved from the drawing board to near-approval. In contrast, a plan for a new Brooklyn arena for the NBA's Nets remains in limbo more than two years after its proposal.

The Yankees, trying to demonstrate their community commitment, are negotiating a hefty benefits package with Bronx politicians. An early proposal had the team contributing $28 million over 40 years to an advisory panel that would then distribute the Bronx Community Trust Fund to local non-profits.

In addition, the team would pay $100,000 annually toward preservation of the Bronx parks around the new stadium and another $100,000 to Bronx youth and sports groups. The team would also provide 15,000 tickets to Yankee games each year.

"We're in the process of negotiating agreements that we think are going to be very significant,'' said Yankees president Randy Levine.

There's good reason for the Yankees to stay in the South Bronx. Last year, the team broke the 4 million mark in attendance - the seventh consecutive year it drew more than 3 million in the vintage ballpark.

Yet the Yankees and the locals long have shared an uneasy truce. It was just a dozen years ago that George Steinbrenner was denigrating the neighborhood as dangerous, and threatening to move the team to Manhattan or northern New Jersey. The huge attendance uptick made the new ballpark more attractive.

Yankee Stadium II would have fewer seats, but more luxury boxes - 60 in all, about three times the existing number. Residents in the neighborhood were upset by the notion that the team was catering to its wealthier fans rather than its Bronx constituency.

The stadium proposal left Gratt struggling with a love/hate complex toward the Yankees - loves the team, hates the new ballpark. It came to a head when it was time to renew his season tickets.

Gratt couldn't imagine a summer without his beloved bleacher seats. But he didn't want to support the team if the Yankees forged ahead with the stadium plan. His decision: Gratt will stay at home this baseball season.

“Bronx parkland puts Queens on notice” in Fresh Meadows Times 01/26/06

Bronx parkland puts Queens on notice

in Fresh Meadows Times 01/26/06

By Bob Harris

An e-mail from the Queens Civic Congress tells of the land grab of Macomb’s Dam Park and John Mullaly Park in the Highbridge Section of the Bronx by the New York Yankee baseball management. The writer of the message is John Rozankowski, Ph.D., who is a member of Save Our Parks and The Ravens, Friends of Poe Park.

He, and many other residents, are opposed to the Yankee management taking these two large, well-developed parks in exchange for the current Yankee Stadium land. It is felt that the Yankees are doing this as a cheap way to build a new stadium.
Rozankowski wrote that Community Board 4 in the Bronx opposed this land swap, but Bronx Borough President Alberto Carrion is for the deal, so he locked 150 community residents out of his public hearing in the freezing cold on Dec 12, thus preventing them from voicing their opposition. The proposal is currently at City Planning, in Manhattan and scheduled for a vote on Jan 11, 2006. It will then go to the City Council for a final vote.

Since the proponents must replace the two parks being taken over with equal parkland, the old Yankee Stadium would be taken down, and a parking garage would be built underneath the land. Also, a park would be built on the surface, leaving historic spots related to Yankee baseball.

Rozankowski says that the new 22-acre park- covered with artificial turf – will not be like the two old parks which now have 372 mature trees. Any new trees will be small compared to the old trees which will be cut down. He predicted that most of the new trees would probably die, since they will be over a cement garage. Some of the required park acreage will be across the highway from where the two parks are now located.

Rozankowski complained that there was no meaningful outreach, that the impending vote was not announced, the major media did not cover the story, and no testimony was taken from the community. He feels that there has been a virtual blackout about public opposition and that all this sets a bad precedent. This is like the building of a giant chemical water treatment plant in Van Courtland Park instead of just protecting the water in the upstate reservoirs from pollution.

We in Queens have had to fight for our open parks over the years. About 40 years ago, Mayor Lindsay wanted to build a large swimming pool in Cunningham Park, where now during the spring, summer and fall, baseball, soccer, football, and now cricket are played on the open spaces in the eastern areas of the park along 73rd Avenue.

The homeowners did not want a big pool in their park. A huge crowd filled PS 26 and the proposal was tabled. A few years ago there was a proposal to build an ice skating rink in the southern part of Cunningham Park. The community rallied and the area is still forever wild and more or less picturesque. The rink is being built in the northern part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park over or next to the sewage storage tank being built there away from all houses.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park has been under siege for years. There was a plan to build a Grand Prix race course in the park. It was stopped. Mayor Dinkins, a tennis buff, push through a tennis stadium. However, the displaced soccer fields were never replaced. The people who had used these soccer fields were displaced. So much for the little people! What does it cost to attend a tennis match in the stadium? Oh, the company which runs the Tennis Center moved out of Queens to Nassau. I don’t know if they give free tennis lessons to community children. I believe they were supposed to! Do you know?

Our parks are small or large open green spaces where people can picnic and play, respectful of the surrounding community. We have to fight to protect and improve our parks. They should be places for the people to relax and socialize and play and heal. They are not places where speculators can make lots of money with high-priced sporting events or other money-making activities. Have you ever visited one of our parks on a nice day? They are packed! We have to unite and support each other and protect our parks. I hope people notice what is happening in the Bronx and speak up.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

"Where in the World Is Jose Rivera?' in Village Voice 03/13/02

"Shame on them all, especially Borough President Adolfo Carrion and the county's Democratic boss, Assemblyman Jose Rivera....Dispensing with all pretense of protecting the public interest, Rivera has allowed one of his right-hand men, longtime Bronx fixer Stanley Schlein - who was on Rivera's Assembly staff throughout last year and doubles as the party's lawyer - to also collect a paycheck from the Yankees to goose the project along." NY Daily News, 03/24/06

Recently Jose Rivera and his family has been getting press coverage. Two of his children, Joel Rivera and Naomi Rivera, are also elected officials in the Bronx, members of the New York City Council and New York State Assembly, respectively. The son, Joel, has been identified in the 6/20 scandal as the chairman of the City Council committee that okayed legislation to steal the parkland without discussion according to the released minutes. So who is the patriarch of this Rivera family? Check out Google for an answer:

Where in the World Is Jose Rivera?
New Bronx Democratic Boss Lied About Residences

by Tom Robbins
March 13 - 19, 2002

The newly elected leader of the Bronx Democratic party, state assemblyman Jose Rivera, was once such a rolling stone that city investigators found he never lived at three different Bronx addresses he claimed as legal residences over a five-year period.

Although no action was ever taken against Rivera, the city's Department of Investigation reported in 1987 that he not only lied about where he lived but also failed to disclose an old gun conviction that sent him to jail for a seven-month stretch back in the late 1950s.

Rivera, 65, took over the reins for Bronx Democrats in early February, succeeding his friend and ally Roberto Ramirez who stepped down to become a full-time lawyer and campaign consultant.

An affable and progressive politician, Rivera has represented the borough for 20 years, first in the assembly and later in the City Council. Two years ago, facing term limits, Rivera quit the council and ran for and won Ramirez's old assembly seat in Kingsbridge.

Last summer, Rivera got his biggest media exposure yet when he was arrested and jailed along with Ramirez and Reverend Al Sharpton for trespassing at U.S. Navy bombing sites in Vieques, Puerto Rico. His influence expanded when his son, Joel, 23, was elected to his former City Council seat last year. In February, the younger Rivera was named council majority leader.

The Bronx party leadership post gives Jose Rivera major clout in city, state, and even national elections. But Rivera's new role also casts a spotlight on a political veteran who has long been alleged to live outside the borough he is supposed to represent.

A July 1987 DOI report obtained by the Voice shows that investigators were asked to check Rivera's credentials after he emerged as a candidate to take over a City Council seat vacated by Fernando Ferrer, who had been named borough president.

Investigators found that the residence Rivera listed on a mandatory disclosure form—a studio apartment in a private home at 2397 Tiebout Avenue in the Bronx's Fordham section—was actually a 10-foot-by-10-foot single room at the rear of someone else's apartment, one that afforded little privacy.

"The door separating Mr. Rivera's room from the front part of the apartment is loosely secured by a rope," wrote investigators. "The room has neither a bathroom nor a kitchen. Mr. Rivera has testified that he has use of the bathroom facilities of an apartment on the second floor and that he enters his room by means of a back stairs through that second-floor apartment."

Rivera's landlady couldn't tell investigators how much rent the assemblyman was paying or when he moved in. Neighbors questioned by DOI failed to recognize their fellow tenant.

Rivera began listing the Tiebout Avenue address as his residence in March 1987, just days before a Voice article by William Bastone revealed that the assemblyman didn't live at his then official residence, an apartment at 1986 Grand Avenue. Not only did Rivera not have a telephone at the address, Bastone reported, but someone else was living in the apartment.

The city probers later confirmed the Voice's findings, reporting that "based on all credible evidence," Rivera never lived at the Tiebout Avenue and Grand Avenue apartments, or at a prior address at 1928 University Avenue. Rivera used each location, DOI stated, "merely as an address to register to vote, register an automobile and receive mail."

Such practices are hardly new. The Bronx has long been plagued by politicians who collect paychecks for representing the borough, while sleeping elsewhere. But fake residences are difficult to prove in court and rarely prosecuted. In Rivera's case, there's no evidence that law enforcement authorities ever pursued the matter.

In any event, the subject wasn't one the new county leader chose to discuss, failing to return repeated calls to his Bronx office.

But where does the legislator really live? In 1987, investigators found that Rivera and his wife, Blanche, were co-owners of a brick-faced ranch house in Elmont, Long Island. Purchased in 1980, the home is nestled next to Belmont Park Race Track and less than a mile from the city line. Rivera kept an unlisted phone there and neighbors told DOI that Rivera was "a frequent and regular visitor" and regarded him as "a resident."

Nassau County records show that Rivera and his wife were listed as co-owners until June 1987, when ownership was switched to Blanche Rivera, who is still the owner of record. Rivera claimed to investigators at the time that he had been separated from his wife for six years. But he acknowledged that they continued to share bank accounts and hold a joint American Express credit card that Rivera used regularly.

After the DOI report, Rivera continued to hopscotch around the borough. His current listed address is an apartment building in Fordham Hill, where he moved after listing an address at 2438 Morris Avenue when he ran for the City Council in 1997.

Investigators apparently caught the old gun conviction in a routine check as part of the same background investigation. Details are sketchy, but DOI reported that Rivera was convicted in 1957 of a misdemeanor violation for possession of a loaded firearm—in his case, a .25-caliber Browning automatic. Although Rivera served seven months, he said that he had not listed it on his disclosure form because a lawyer told him he had been designated a youthful offender and the record had been expunged. In fact, Rivera would have been at least 20 at the time and treated as an adult. Rivera said he initially listed the offense, then erased it on his lawyer's advice. In this instance, investigators determined that Rivera was telling the truth: The document he submitted had white-out over the initial entry.

Rivera, however, has never made any bones about his hardscrabble background. He was a steel worker and later a carpenter and founded a group called United Tremont Trades that tried to place blacks and Latinos in construction jobs. The organization made him some odd friends, however. In 1982, Rivera sent a federal judge a ringing character endorsement for Vincent DiNapoli, a top figure in the Genovese crime family and convicted racketeer who owned several construction firms.

Friday, March 24, 2006

It's a fact - Yankee Stadium would be TORN DOWN in it's entirety!

Charles Gargano, the commissioner for the state-run Empire State Development Corporation was on WFAN with Mike and the Mad Dog on March 23, 2006.

Mike spoke about Yankee Stadium as hallowed ground and asked the commissioner if it has been confirmed that Yankee Stadium was going to be preserved in some way such as a museum and not built over.

The commissioner responded "As I understand it, it is owned by the City of New York and I cannot speak for the City but this is the direction they are going in and that they want to preserve that ground and I'm sure they will."

Happy to hear that the Empire State Development Corporation has a commissioner who knows the facts of the New Yankee Stadium Plans. Does the ESDC board of directors voting on these projects know the facts?

As for Mike and the Mad Dog, they sit at a computer with online access, have the 4 major New York Newspapers on their desks and somehow they still don't seem to know all the facts of this plan.

Most importantly, thousands and thousands of listeners are being misled by these individuals who should be passing alongthe true facts of this plan. That's why the vast majority of the public is unaware that historic Yankee Stadium will be torn down in it's entirety.

Great job guys!

Listen to to conversation at Mike and the Mad Dog:

"Pols strike out in the Bronx" in the Daily News, 3/24/6

Pols strike out in the Bronx

by Errol Louis

Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is smoldering.

A fast-growing coalition of Bronx residents and civic organizations is asking hard questions about plans by the New York Yankees to build a new stadium in the South Bronx on what was once public parkland. And the more these groups hear, the madder they get.

Just how angry will be clear Tuesday, when a City Council subcommittee holds a hearing on the Yankee plan. It's one of the last steps before a full Council votes on subsidies, zoning changes and city financing for the project.

Civic groups plan to descend on City Hall en masse to raise questions that should have been addressed long ago.

The Yankees project, which has been breezing through state and city approvals, needs a complete overhaul. For starters, the plan calls for $70 million in state funds to build new parking garages in and around the stadium, although 61% of people living in the Bronx don't own a car.

According to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, which advocates mass transit, a far smarter move would be to build a Metro-North station on the Hudson Line, which runs right past the stadium. For $80 million to $100 million, the city would have permanent public transportation instead of thousands of cars jamming local highways and streets.

As the federal Environmental Protection Agency reported this week, New York City has the foulest, smoggiest air in America. That fact, along with the Bronx's deadly distinction as home to the nation's highest rates of asthma, should have made a no-more-cars approach to the new stadium a nonnegotiable demand.

But it's not clear that the Bronx's elected officials, each of whom has sworn to protect the interests of his constituents, did very much demanding at all. Shame on them all, especially Borough President Adolfo Carrion and the county's Democratic boss, Assemblyman Jose Rivera.

Dispensing with all pretense of protecting the public interest, Rivera has allowed one of his right-hand men, longtime Bronx fixer Stanley Schlein - who was on Rivera's Assembly staff throughout last year and doubles as the party's lawyer - to also collect a paycheck from the Yankees to goose the project along.

Carrion, who is busy trying to run for mayor, has his own conflicts of interest - he has collected $9,000 in contributions from Yankee executives so far - and has been roundly criticized for giving community organizations the big runaround. This week, for instance, neither Carrion nor anybody from his office - despite promises to the contrary - could find time to attend a forum on the pros and cons of the project held at the New York Foundation.

Savvy civic groups smell a rat. Good Jobs New York, a subsidy watchdog group, is questioning the Yankees' financial estimates, pointing out that more than $400 million in public dollars would go to the wealthiest sports franchise in America - while the permanent in-stadium jobs created would pay, on average, a poverty wage of $17,500 a year.

Eleven citywide civic groups, including the Sierra Club, and the Municipal Art Society signed a letter this week criticizing the plan. And Bronx neighborhood leaders are in an uproar.

"Bronx electeds have refused to stand with our community on the project," says Joyce Hogi of Save Our Parks, who lives near the stadium. Mothers on the Move, a grass-roots group, is on the move, holding regular meetings on how to put pressure on local officials.

Every Bronx pol needs to pay heed to these voices of discontent. If they don't, what began as opposition to a flawed project could turn into an all-out voter insurrection.

Originally published on March 24, 2006

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Photo for "Bronx cheers for community pact" MetroNY 03/23/06

Joscelyn Fuentes, 4, holds a drawing captioned, “George Steinbrenner kicking child out of Mullaly Park, Bronx, NY.” (Photo: Patrick Arden/Metro)

"Bronx cheers for community pact" in MetroNY 03/23/06

Bronx cheers for community pact

by patrick arden / metro new york

MAR 23, 2006

CITY HALL — A crowd of South Bronx residents stood on the steps here yesterday and called out to Michael Bloomberg as he walked past with his eyes fixed firmly on the doors ahead of him. One shout went up: “Mayor Bloomberg, will you make a statement about the Yankees stealing Mullaly and Macombs Dam parks?”

Joscelyn Fuentes, 4, holds a drawing captioned, “George Steinbrenner kicking child out of Mullaly Park, Bronx, NY.” (Photo: Patrick Arden/Metro)

The mayor has been a supporter of the Yankees’ plan to build a new stadium and parking garages on 22 acres of parkland, calling the project a “spectacular centerpiece” of his strategy for the South Bronx, creating jobs and a “stronger quality of life for the families who live here.”

The families here were unconvinced. They taunted their Council members, who were discussing the plan with Joshua Laird, the Parks Dept.’s chief of planning, and Hector Aponte, the commissioner of Bronx parks.

“Hey, hey, ho, ho,” they chanted. “The Bronx delegation’s got to go.”

Revealing ‘secret’

Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, distributed copies of the “secret community benefits program” negotiated between the Yankees and Bronx elected officials, who were quick to note the document was a draft. The final deal is supposed to be sealed before the City Council votes on the project April 5.

“It is important to note, this is not a ‘community benefits agreement,’ as the community was excluded from participating,” Croft said. “This is only an agreement between supporters of the plan.”

The draft of the agreement lays out a “framework,” according to Borough President Adolfo Carrion. It sets aside a quarter of all construction jobs and contracts for Bronx residents and businesses, and it would set up a not-for-profit corporation to dole out $700,000 annually to borough nonprofits over the team’s 40-year stadium lease.

Croft complained that this money does not have to be spent in the neighborhood losing its parkland. On that point, Carrion said, “This is still a draft. I’m working very closely with my City Council delegation.”

Bronx elected officials would appoint a panel to oversee the fund, which would share staff and offices on 149th Street with the NYC Business Solutions Center, which was established through Carrion’s office. The agreement, Carrion said, would make the Yankees invest in the neighborhood.

“This is a model that I think makes sense,” he said. “I think it’s good community development.”

Short list

Lukas Herbert, a member of Community Board 4, complained the community was ignored in an earlier pact over the Bronx Terminal Market.

“We got — what? — foodstamps accepted at a BJ’s Wholesale Club,” Herbert said. “Should we be glad these guys are in charge? We’d rather keep our parks.”

A good deal?

Community benefits agreement specialist Roxana Tynan on the Yankees deal with Bronx officials:

• “If the community isn’t involved, the agreement is not real. The 25 percent of contracts could be significant if there are real penalties to insure it’s enforced, but the permanent jobs should be 50 percent. The $700,000 over 40 years is significant, but it’s not impressive when you look at the entire cost. The larger issue is, do people want this project? The community benefits shouldn’t be used by the developer or the government to get around essential opposition.”

"Loot for the home team" in the Daily News, 3/23/6

Loot for the home team

by Juan Gonzalez

Last June, both houses of the state Legislature unanimously passed a bill to permit the Bloomberg administration to turn over the largest public parks complex in the South Bronx - 22 acres of Macombs Dam and Mullaly parks - for the building of a new $800 million Yankee Stadium.

In Albany, a place notorious for gridlock, this bill moved at lightning speed. This was due in no small measure to the Bronx Democratic political machine, which has turned into a bat boy for Yankee owner George Steinbrenner.

Steinbrenner's bill, as it will now be known, was introduced in both houses of the Legislature over the weekend of June 18 - less than a week after the city and Yankees unveiled their plans - and the final vote was done by June 23.

Meanwhile, the City Council held on June 20 a quick hearing and vote on its own parallel legislation. The Council bill was sponsored by Joel Rivera, son of Bronx Democratic Party chairman Jose Rivera.

All of this maneuvering was facilitated by Stanley Schlein, the main lawyer for the Bronx machine, who had been hired by Yankees President Randy Levine as the key strategist in charge of getting all the necessary politicians on board.

The Bronx politician who has become the stadium's biggest booster is Borough President Adolfo Carrion, who received $9,000 in campaign contributions from Levine or executives of the Yankees' YES network during the past few years.

Carrion has become such a cheerleader for Bronx development projects sponsored by downtown movers and shakers that he should carry pompoms in his briefcase.

Before the local South Bronx residents had any inkling of what was going on, their parks had been given away - earmarked for one of the richest teams in all of professional sports.

More than 40 public schools now use the park for recreation, said Joyce Hoigi, a 30-year resident of the neighborhood and a member of the nonprofit group Save our Parks.

"What are our kids supposed to do for the next few years while they build the stadium?" Hoigi said. "There is absolutely no consideration for the residents who live here."

Steinbrenner's stadium plan would destroy 400 mature trees in the existing park and create parking lots for 5,000 more cars - this in a neighborhood with the city's highest asthma rate.

City Hall and the Yankees both claim that after the new stadium is built in 2009 and after the old one is demolished, new parks will be constructed to replace Macombs and Mullaly.

But those parks will be located at scattered sites, on top of those parking lots, and some will be along the waterfront and thus far less accessible.

More importantly, the city will end up spending $100 million to replace parks that already exist.

And that's just a small part of the subsidy being given to Steinbrenner, according to the watchdog group Good Jobs New York. The total city and state tab for the new stadium will approach $480 million - either in infrastructure costs or discounted taxes, said the group's project director, Bettina Damiani.

Not surprisingly, the local community board voted resoundingly in November to oppose the new stadium plans, but Carrion and the Bronx machine simply ignored the vote.

Many angry residents at that November meeting questioned why the Yankees couldn't renovate the existing stadium or share Shea Stadium with the Mets while they build a new ballpark on their current site.

Levine told them the Yankees would suffer economically if they stopped playing in the current stadium during construction.

So in his boundless greed, Steinbrenner wants residents and children of the South Bronx to go without any parks for three years so he won't be inconvenienced.

If the Yankees were going through rough times, you might understand. But last year the team had a record attendance of 4.1 million and baseball's highest revenue at $335 million.

So far, only Bronx City Councilwoman Helen Foster has had the guts to stand up to Steinbrenner's land grab.

Next month, the Council will vote on the entire Yankee Stadium plan. It's time for the Bronx machine to explain to voters why it has become a bat boy for Steinbrenner.

Originally published on March 23, 2006

Check this map out!

Click the title to see an amazing mapped image of the Yankee plan courtesy of onNYTurf. The map is quite complex, and gives a profound understanding of what the plan means for the community, but let's let the amazing onNYTurf explain (you will find a more complete explanation at the actual onNYTurf site. Go to

The Yankee proposal is a complex plan, with a lot of details. Details which the NYC media and city council thus far have given the Yankees a free pass on (for the most part - no, I know not you Gotham Gazette). Accordingly this google map is quite complex, and so I ask your patience to learn how the map works so that you can understand the Yankee proposal and its potential implications.

The map is really five maps in one. Each map shows different information. Each can be accessed by clicking their respective buttons in the upper right corner of the map. The five maps are:

The Before map shows the current configuration of park land and Yankee stadium operations

The After map shows the swap of property the Yankees are proposing.

This is a rendering from the Yankees.

This highlights both the park topped parking garages as well as another new garage that would go in the middle of the large park.

Part of the proposal places new parks on the waterfront. The Routes map in association with a number of small red markers show the possible ways to reach this area. Reaching this area is extremely difficult, and it is a very long distance from the residential community.


"Yankees Sweeten Stadium Proposal" on NY1, 3/22/6

Yankees Sweeten Stadium Proposal

March 22, 2006

With a City Council vote on the proposed new Yankee Stadium just weeks away, some Bronx residents aren't warming up to the team's attempts to gain community support.

The team is reportedly offering up millions of dollars in free tickets, park maintenance and equipment for schools and youth groups in an effort to get Bronx residents to back the deal.

Published reports say the team is now offering to contribute $28 million to a trust fund and to distribute 15,000 free tickets each season to Bronx youth groups and senior citizens.

The team would also pay $100,000 a year to maintain parks around the stadium and add another $100,000 in equipment and promotional merchandise to schools and youth groups in the city.

The Yankees are also proposing that stadium construction work and other team business be given to Bronx residents and Bronx-based companies with minority or female owners.

The team is reportedly offering up millions of dollars in free tickets, park maintenance and equipment for schools and youth groups in an effort to get Bronx residents to back the deal.

Some Bronx residents say they don't like the deal sweeteners, since the plan would take away 22 acres of city-owned park space. They're calling the offer a payoff through a slush fund.

“Give us back our parks. We don't want 400 trees cut down, we don't want more parking in the asthma capital of the country, we don't want a 14-story building built in the middle of a residential community,” said Geneva Causey of the group Save Our Parks. “Our elected officials are not representing the needs of our community. They are a disgrace."

In a statement, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion calls the benefits agreement "generous." And as for his relationship with the community during the next couple of weeks, he says that, “Together we will continue to insist that the community that houses the stadium has an equal participatory role in the economic development of this area."

A City Council hearing on the stadium plan is slated for next Tuesday. The council will then have until April 5th to vote on the project.

If it's green-lighted, the Yankees are hoping to have the new stadium ready for the 2009 season.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"50M on deck for Bronx if stadium OKd" in NY Daily News 03/22/06

Extra unnecessary garages built with taxpayer money in area with record asthma rates. Destroying our national sports arena , The House That Ruth Built, for the new Steinbrenner Stadium. Insulting neighborhood residents for decades, stealing our public parkland and now sprinkling some payola - no doubt with our taxpayer money. Hey, Randy Levine, can you spell "BLOOD MONEY?"

50M on deck for Bronx if stadium OKd


The Yankees are getting ready to swing their heavy-hitting checkbook in the Bronx - and to thwack out about $50 million over 40 years.

With the Bombers seeking City Council approval for a new stadium, the team is pledging to donate some $800,000 to Bronx parks and charities every year of their 40-year lease, according to a draft copy of the agreement obtained by the Daily News yesterday.

In addition to the cash, the Yanks would give away $100,000 in equipment and 15,000 tickets every year to needy Bronx groups.

The team would also work to assure that at least half the construction jobs on the planned $800 million stadium go toward minority-, women- and Bronx-owned firms.

"We are negotiating an agreement," was all Yankees President Randy Levine would say yesterday. "We think it will be very significant, but it would be inappropriate to comment until it is concluded."

The Bombers are negotiating the terms of the so-called community benefits agreement with a committee of Bronx elected leaders, among them Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión and City Councilwoman Maria Baez.

Both politicians yesterday emphasized that no deal had been finalized on the stadium.

"It is a work in progress," Baez (D-West Bronx) of the deal. "When all is said and done, I am committed to making sure that the people of the Bronx are going to benefit."

The stadium plans are due to come before the Council for final approval next month.

In addition to the cash grants and donated materials, the current plan would obligate the Yankees to:

# Hire a "program administrator" with a budget of $450,000 per year to help minority- and female-owned and borough businesses win construction and other contracts on the stadium.

# Create a not-for-profit corporation - to be headed by an unnamed "individual of prominence" - to distribute the $800,000 in cash and other freebies every year.

The new 53,000-seat stadium would be built on 22 acres now occupied by John Mullaly and Macombs Dam parks. New replacement parks and playgrounds are to be created nearby.

"Bronx debates pact pols, Yankees made" in MetroNY 03/22/06

Bronx debates pact pols, Yankees made

by patrick arden / metro new york

MAR 22, 2006

BRONX — Borough President Adolfo Carrion was reticent yesterday to discuss a draft of the community benefits agreement he’s been negotiating with the New York Yankees for the last several months. The Yankees need 22 acres of parkland for a stadium, but Carrion believes the area will profit in return.

He explained the deal has been worked out with members of the City Council’s Bronx delegation, and the final contract would be ready by the time the Council votes on the stadium project April 5.

Investment of millions

“If you come into the Bronx, you need to do business with the Bronx, you need to engage the work force, you need to engage businesses in the development and help us to add value to the quality of life here,” he said.

More than 25 percent of construction jobs and contracts will go to Bronx residents and businesses, and Carrion seemed especially proud of a community benefits program that would give out $900,000 annually over the team’s 40-year lease.

“If you look at the investment in the community every year over 40 years, you’re talking about in excess of $50 million,” he said.

“It’s a slush fund — that’s all it is,” responded Geneva Causey, who’s lived across the street from Macombs Dam Park for 39 years. “If it was for the community, it would have been more — and it wouldn’t have been secret.”

After looking at the draft, Lukas Herbert, an urban planner on Community Board 4, said, the program’s administrator “will probably be a patronage appointment, and anybody who uses their organization to get votes for X, Y and Z Democratic Party machine members will end up getting money.”

Community wrath

When Community Board 4 rejected the stadium plan in November, 16 members voted no, 8 voted yes, and 7 abstained.

“There were an awful lot of people who abstained from voting because they run nonprofits that get city funding,” Herbert said. “They were worried if they voted against the project they’d incur the wrath of the people in charge.”

Last week at Borough Hall, members of Save Our Parks threatened to run candidates against their elected officials.

“The Bronx political machine has become an absolute embarrassment to the people they supposedly represent,” Causey said. “They are going to make billions off our public parks, and this is all we get? They should be ashamed of themselves. It is time for them to go.”

"Invited to a cash bonanza" in MetroNY 03/22/06

‘Invited to a cash bonanza’
Bronx residents wary of pact with Yankees

by patrick arden / metro new york

MAR 22, 2006

BRONX — After months of negotiations, a draft of a community benefits agreement related to the Yankee Stadium project has surfaced.

CBAs are binding contracts that are traditionally crafted with the input of neighborhood groups. This deal was worked out primarily between the team and Borough President Adolfo Carrion.

It promises 25 percent of all stadium construction and post-construction jobs will go to Bronx residents. t also creates a “not-for-profit corporation” run by someone selected by a panel appointed by elected officials that will annually dole out $700,000 to area not-for-profits, $100,000 for park maintenance and $100,000 for “equipment and promotional merchandise” for schools and youth groups.

Neither the Yankees nor Carrion were ready to sign off on it yesterday.

“It’s just a draft,” said Yankees spokeswoman Alice McGillion. “Both sides are still talking.”

“Until we’re ready to announce it, we can’t get into too much detail,” added Carrion, who said the draft established a “framework that I’ve been pushing for.”

“This whole thing is about construction jobs and the creation of a slush fund,” said Lukas Herbert, a member of Community Board 4, which voted against the stadium plan. “A slush fund that’s going to reward political loyalists who have backed the stadium over the objections of their constituents. They’re going to be invited to a cash bonanza.”

"$28 Million for the Bronx in the Yankees' Stadium Plan" in NY Times, 3/22/6

$28 Million for the Bronx in the Yankees' Stadium Plan

Published: March 22, 2006

As part of the Yankees' proposal to build a new stadium, the team will contribute $28 million to a trust fund and distribute 15,000 free tickets each season to Bronx groups, according to the draft plan of a community benefits program.

The proposal also calls for the team to pay $100,000 a year to maintain parks around the stadium and distribute $100,000 a year in "equipment and promotional merchandise" to schools and youth groups in New York City. There was no requirement, however, that the $28 million, which would be distributed over a 40-year period, be spent in the South Bronx, the site of the stadium and its replacement.

Stadium opponents observed yesterday that the proposal for a 53,000-seat stadium calls for the trust fund to be administered by "an individual of prominence" appointed by an advisory group that would be selected by elected Bronx officials — who are nearly unanimous in their support of the stadium despite intense neighborhood opposition.

"It would be like the fox guarding the henhouse," said City Councilwoman Helen Diane Foster, one of the few Bronx officials opposing the new stadium.

The proposals, which include a pledge that a quarter of stadium construction jobs would go to Bronx residents, are part of the draft benefits program negotiated between the Yankees and Bronx officials.

The agreement is expected to be completed in a few days and will be part of the stadium package presented to the City Council before it votes on the stadium on April 5.

"We are in the process of negotiating and hopefully finalizing a job training, contractor training and community partnership agreement," said Randy Levine, president of the Yankees. "We think it will be very significant, and it would be inappropriate for me to comment until an agreement is finalized."

Plans for an $800 million stadium on two public parks next to the present stadium have drawn antipathy in the neighborhoods around the stadium, where residents say the parks that will be paved over — Mullaly and Macombs Dam Parks — are vital to a community with a high rate of childhood asthma and a lack of green space.

The parks would be replaced by smaller parks scattered throughout the area, including some on the rooftops of garages that would be built for stadium parking.

The stadium's neighbors say the Yankees have done little outreach in the community, which is among the poorest in the nation. Many residents say they are particularly estranged from the team because they cannot afford tickets but have to put up with traffic and noise on game days.

The Yankees want to start construction on the stadium this summer and finish by opening day 2009. The project has been approved by the Department of City Planning.

Borough President Adolfo Carrión, a chief advocate for the stadium, said he had lobbied for a benefits agreement to ensure that residents get well-paying jobs.

"My goal has always been that any development that happens in the Bronx should have benefits, including job creation," he said.

But many of the people who live near the stadium and oppose the project say their elected officials have misled them about the plan and have ignored a nonbinding vote last year by the local community board, which rejected the new stadium.

While the community benefits agreement has been the subject of negotiations for more than six months, Lukas Herbert, a member of the community board and a county planner in Westchester, said the board has not been asked for its opinion.

After he read the eight-page draft yesterday, Mr. Herbert called the $28 million trust fund a "slush fund."

"This thing is disgraceful," he said. "It's going to be controlled by the Bronx political machine — the very people who sold out the community in the first place."

The draft plan calls for the trust fund to be endowed in annual increments of $700,000 over the 40-year life of the Yankees lease.

It also calls for the Yankees to reserve at least 25 percent of the construction contracts for Bronx-based companies, at least half of which would be run by women or members of minorities. At least 25 percent of the construction and post-construction jobs would also go to Bronx residents. An administrator hired by the Yankees will monitor the team to ensure it is compliant, according to the draft agreement.

In 2005, the Yankees donated $291,000 of the $1.5 million distributed nationally by the Yankee Foundation to Bronx groups, the team said.

Councilwoman Foster, who lives a few blocks from the stadium, said she would continue trying to negotiate a better deal for the community.

"Everything we hear is about how this is going to be a better thing for the Yankees and their fans. But I don't care about the Yankees, I care about my constituents," she said.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"Yankee Stadium Parkland Swap" in Gotham Gazette, March '06

Yankee Stadium Parkland Swap

by Anne Schwartz
March, 2006

What if the city decided to put a stadium in the middle of your local park?

Don’t worry, though. The city would rebuild most of the displaced athletic facilities in several other places. Your old park is dilapidated, and the new one would have a sparkling new running track and state-of-the-art fields.

But instead of being set inside a large, green space surrounded by hundreds of mature trees, the fields would be scattered on separate parcels, including the tops of parking garages. The new recreational spaces would be closer to the highway and train tracks and an additional five-minute to half-hour walk from where people live. Most of the trees would be cut down. The new stadium would go smack in the middle of the community’s current park, next to a residential area.

That’s the parkland trade the city agreed to in the South Bronx, allowing the New York Yankees plan to build their long-desired new stadium in Macombs Dam Park. If this were to happen on the Upper East Side of Manhattan or in a middle-income neighborhood of Queens, there would be a howl of protest louder than when the Red Sox beat the Yankees in 2004.

New York State common law requires that when parkland is taken away from the public’s use, it must be replaced by new parkland nearby of equal or greater value. The parks department says that in return for losing Macombs Dam Park and part of John Mullaly Park, residents would end up with more acres of parkland and far superior playing fields. Residents say they would be shortchanged.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, and state legislators have fast-tracked the plan, which includes a stadium with fewer seats but with luxury boxes and wider concourses, as well as four new garages to hold about 5,000 cars. In June of 2005, the state legislature swiftly passed the necessary approval to take the park, before most residents were aware it was happening. Last month, the City Planning Commission, whose members are appointed by the mayor, voted unanimously in favor of the plan. The plan will be final if the City Council approves it in April.

Opposing the plan are park advocates, fiscal watchdogs, and mass transit supporters, as well as residents of the neighborhood and nearby South Bronx communities, who were not consulted when the Yankees and the city worked out the deal. The local community board voted two to one against the plan in November of 2005, but the board has only an advisory role. Tony Costa, a long-time resident and member of Save Our Parks, one of the groups fighting the stadium, said, “The Yankees made the plan and then said, ‘Come on, why don’t you love it?’”

The taking of parkland for the stadium and parking garages raises a number of public health and environmental justice concerns. The area’s residents are mostly black and Hispanic, including many recent immigrants from Africa and Central America. It has some of the highest rates of asthma and obesity in the city, yet the lowest ratios of parkland to 1,000 residents. With public funding for four new parking garages -- but not for a stop on the Metro North line that goes right through the area -- the plan seems guaranteed to increase traffic and pollution.

There are other problematic aspects to the plan, including the taxpayers’ contribution to its financing and overblown projections of economic returns to the city and neighborhood, which are addressed in a recent report by Good Jobs New York and Tom Angotti’s Gotham Gazette article, Yankee Stadium Without Tears. But let’s leave those issues aside and look more closely at the parkland exchange.


Macombs Dam Park and a third of the adjacent Mullaly Park. The stadium and a VIP parking garage would go in the middle of a long rectangle of recreational space that residents consider their Central Park. Nearly 400 mature trees, which beautify the neighborhood and filter pollutants, would have to be chopped down. The apartment buildings across the street, which were designed to be opposite the park, would face directly onto massive stadium walls to be built right up to the sidewalk.

The part of Macombs Dam Park that now wraps around the existing stadium would be replaced with parking garages, decked over to allow athletic facilities on top. The garages would be built on land that slopes down, so the playing fields would be level with the adjacent land.

The park space slated to be taken contains four baseball diamonds, one soccer field, 32 handball courts, two basketball courts, and 16 tennis courts. One of the most popular features is the Joseph Yancey Track and Field, used by school teams for practice and meets and by residents of all ages for exercise.

The plan pushes the recreational space away from the community and toward the waterfront, the Metro-North tracks, and the Major Deegan Expressway. The tennis courts, which also draw people from Manhattan and other parts of the Bronx, would be on the waterfront and a greater distance from the subway stop.

Macombs Dam Park is a community park where residents come to toss a football, take a stroll, and just enjoy the grass and trees. Families often gather on weekends to picnic while watching the men play soccer in the middle of the track.

During the three- to five-year construction period, residents would lose the use of most of the athletic fields. The parks department says it would try to minimize the disruption by phasing in construction and creating interim fields and by helping teams find other places they can play, giving youth teams priority for the easier-to-reach fields. According to the Environmental Impact Statement, a temporary running course in one location or another would be available throughout construction for walking, jogging and recreational running, but would not be suitable for competitive track meets.


The current version of the project, called the “Alternate Plan” in the Environmental Impact Statement, provides 27.5 acres of replacement recreational space to the south of the existing parkland. It would include three ball fields on the current Yankee Stadium site and a track, a soccer field, and basketball courts on the roofs of parking garages. The rest would be in bits and pieces, including tennis courts about a half mile away on the waterfront and two tiny pocket parks, including one next to the spot where the subway emerges from the tunnel.

The swap provides a few additional acres of open space with pretty much the same recreational uses as the existing park. The details would be adjusted to meet the needs of the community when a final design is created, said Joshua Laird, assistant commissioner of planning at the parks department. He said the department is also considering building a special “destination” playground, the kind of place around which parents would plan a weekend outing with their kids. The department also hopes to bring more maintenance to the area through the community benefits agreement being negotiated with the Yankees.

Residents are particularly unhappy with the garage-top facilities. With the high rates of childhood asthma in the area, one concern is exposure to exhaust. Laird said that there will be no stacks or grilles in the park and that exhaust will be vented so as not to affect people using the space.

Residents also don’t like the replacement of natural fields with artificial ones. Synthetic turf is more durable than grass, which is quickly worn to dirt with the hard use city ball fields get, and the parks department is installing the artificial stuff in fields all over the city. But because synthetic turf is much hotter than grass, the rooftop fields, which would lack the trees of the existing park, would likely get steaming in the summer. Laird said that trees would be planted between playing fields in pockets where the soil could be deeper, although it’s hard to believe anything could grow successfully except small ornamental trees. There is also a possibility that security concerns would make these spaces off limits on the team’s 80-plus game days.

The tennis courts would be moved to the Harlem River waterfront. At present, that is a 30-minute walk through a run-down, deserted area, across a scary covered pedestrian bridge over the Metro North tracks and then underneath the elevated expressway. (The Yankees rejected this area for the stadium because of its limited public access.) The area immediately surrounding the courts would be landscaped and include a pedestrian esplanade, but it would remain isolated along an industrial stretch. There is a construction demolition debris plant a pier away on one side; stadium parking would go on the other.

According to Laird, however, plans are in the works to transform the area. “Part of the reason people have been skeptical about the waterfront is that they have in their minds’ eye the conditions today,” he said. The parks department would replace the pedestrian bridge and make it handicapped-accessible. The city is backing a developer’s proposal to replace the nearby Bronx Terminal Market with a million-square-foot mall of big-box stores, a large project whose environmental impacts have not been considered in conjunction with the Yankee Stadium plan.

As for the trees, there really is no way to give the neighborhood back what would be destroyed. The environmental impact statement said the city would mitigate the loss of the 40-year-old trees by planting “from between 8,356 trees of a 3½ inch caliper to 29,248 trees of a 2-inch caliper within the replacement recreational facilities and along streets.” Laird said that the department figures on planting between 8,000 and 12,000 street and park trees, but many would have to go outside the area that would suffer the loss. Some would even be planted outside the neighborhood. In addition, newly planted street trees have a very low survival rate due to the city’s hot, dry conditions and to errant trucks and automobiles.


The main benefit for the community to the parks swap is that it will replace the old track, fields, and courts, which are in poor condition because the parks department hasn’t had the maintenance funding to care for them properly or capital funds allocated to replace them. Given enough money, the parks department can undoubtedly design beautiful new recreational facilities.

But a park is more than the sum of its fields and courts. It is the breeze under the spreading arms of a tree, the fresh smell in the air after a rain, the feeling of being in the middle of a green space apart from brick and concrete. It is a place close by where neighbors come together and community is formed. It makes city life a little easier when you can see a bit of green and sky across the street or down the block. Are these luxuries only for people in affluent neighborhoods?

Even opponents of the plan want the Yankees to stay in the Bronx and to get a modern stadium. But especially in a neighborhood that is already short on green space and long on health problems worsened by the lack of exercise and fresh air, taking a tree-lined community park and replacing it with artificial playing fields farther from where people live should be the last resort, used only for something that has a clear public good.

It is a dangerous precedent to take land held in the public trust for the benefit of a private corporation. Supporters say the new stadium will bring jobs to an economically stressed community. If a few hundred new minimum-wage and temporary construction jobs (that may or may not go to local workers) justifies giving away parkland to baseball’s wealthiest team, then why not let businesses build in every park?

In the rush to get approval, the city and the Yankees have dismissed alternatives that would let the team have its stadium and at the same time allow the community to keep its park. Elected officials need to subject the plan to greater scrutiny and to negotiate a better deal for the neighborhood and the city. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, going forward with the current plan would be making a wrong mistake.

Anne Schwartz, in charge of the parks topic page since its inception in 1999, is a journalist who specializes in environmental issues.