Friday, May 05, 2006

"13 Stadium Renovation Plans Later, Yankees Are Still Dissatisfied" NY Times 03/09/95

As we mentioned on the 4/23 and 4/28 blog entries, the NY Yankees had lusted after our centralized park, Macombs Dam & John Mullaly Park, for decades. This NY Times article from 1995 reveals that George Steinbrenner declined 13 stadium renovation plans from the architectural firm Hellmuth, Obata & Kassbaum (HOK). A few years later in 1998, then Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer had the architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle design a better plan. Titled "Safe at Home" it met the needs of a modern sports stadium and the surrounding community, but nothing satisfied greedy Steinbrenner.

13 Stadium Renovation Plans Later, Yankees Are Still Dissatisfied

By Richard Sandomir in NYTimes March 9, 1995

Several weeks after city officials presented their latest plan to renovate Yankee Stadium, a top team official has suggested that it may be impossible to rebuild the historic stadium in a way that would satisfy the team’s principal owner, George M. Steinbrenner 3rd.

The city’s current plan, a $600 million proposal, would provide new highway ramps and garages to make it easier for drivers to reach and park at the stadium and would include entertainment attractions, retail shops and restaurants.

But in a recent interview, David Sussman, the Yankees’ executive vice president and general counsel, questioned whether it would be enough. “Can any structure or renovation ever satisfy the demands of the mid-90s,” he asked, “consistent with other state-of-the-art facilities around the country?”

Mr. Sussman’s comments may be a sign from Mr. Steinbrenner that if he stays in New York City, it would most likely be in a modern new ballpark on the West Side of Manhattan. Otherwise, he could cross the Hudson River for a site in New Jersey. Mr. Steinbrenner has not commented publicly on the latest plan.

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s policy, for now, is to keep the Yankees in the South Bronx. For nearly two years, the city and the team have tried to forge a plan to renovate Yankee Stadium and its environs to satisfy the team’s desires for greater revenue, additional parking and better access from the highways.

Last month, an architect unveiled the city’s 13th refinement of its design, calling for new ramps from the Major Deegan Expressway, a third bridge across the Harlem River and new garages that would combine with existing garages to flank the stadium with parking on three sides.

The new garages would force playing fields and a track to move from Macombs Dam Park north to sites along River Avenue and west to a waterfront parking area.

Vollmer Associates, a consultant hired by Mr. Steinbrenner, is evaluating the traffic-management aspects of the plan and is expected to report soon. Asked whether the city would further redesign its plan to satisfy the Yankees, Mr. Sussman said: “You’re assuming there will be a further plan. The city may say they’ve done all they can.”

Forrest Taylor, a mayoral spokesman, said redesigns would be commissioned from the architect. Hellmuth, Obata & Kassbaum, “as long as the Mayor finds it fruitful and they’re moving in a positive direction.”

South Bronx community leaders assailed the existing plan for turning the stadium into a garage-enclosed enclave, and shifting the playing fields from Macombs Dam Park.

Although the plan looked tailor-made for Mr. Steinbrenner’s desires to ease access into Yankee Stadium and move fans quickly from parking garages, Mr. Sussman said the team had not dictated the process.

“The Yankees didn’t hire H.O.K., and I don’t think the Yankees will ever be in a position to tell the Mayor what we want in Yankee Stadium,” he said. “The approach has been for the city to put forth proposals and for the Yankees to respond. To be sure, H.O.K., interviewed us, but we’re passive, sitting back.”

But John S. Dyson, the Deputy Mayor for Finance and Economic Development, said: “The Yankees have been involved all along.”

Mr. Dyson said that despite community objections to the current city proposal, the driving force now is to satisfy the Yankees enough to stay.

“We anticipated the community’s reaction,” Mr. Dyson said. “We took their reaction into account to create the previous plan, which George didn’t like.”

He added: “We need an agreement from a business we’re trying to retain, much like Disney on 42nd Street. We need that agreement.”


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