Friday, April 21, 2006

"Mets got a sweetheart deal, Queens pols say" amNY 04/21/06

Mets got a sweetheart deal, Queens pols say
By Chuck Bennett
amNewYork Staff Writer

April 21, 2006

Queens politicians say an independent report proves the Mets are getting a "sweetheart" deal that will cost the city more than originally thought.

The Independent Budget Office released a report Thursday saying the city low-balled its estimates of the real stadium costs. Direct subsidies and tax exemptions will cost the city $177 million over 40 years. At the same time, the Mets will save $298 million to build their $528 million stadium.

"Without a promise to give anything back to the community, it's clear the costs and benefits of this deal do not weigh in favor of our residents," said Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens), who believes both the Mets and the city need to pony up more cash for infrastructure improvements.

Other costs weren't considered by the city, the report found. For instance, it the city failed to consider the loss of $80 million in parking revenue over 40 years.

On April 26, the City Council is scheduled to vote on the crucial bond financing. But as first reported in amNewYork, the 14-member Queens delegation in the council has threatened to block the vote until their concerns are met. In particular, they want commitments to more funding for mass transit and traffic alleviation. Currently, the area will receive $91 million for improvement.

"Even though we have a couple of days, we are not talking a two-family home here, we are talking about a stadium. I don't know how feasible it is" to resolve those issues in such a short period of time, Monserrate said.

"We remain optimistic that between now and the date of the scheduled vote we will be able to move ahead and address these community concerns," said Maria Alvarado, a spokeswoman for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.


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