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.”


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