Monday, July 31, 2006

Letter to Editor NY Times 07/30/06

Letter to the Editor reprinted from the Sunday Business section of the New York Times, July 30, 2006

Re: “The House That George Is Building” (July 23), about George Steinbrenner’s efforts to build a new Yankee Stadium.

Today in baseball there are only three shrines that link this great sport to its past. Wrigley Field, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. Mr. Steinbrenner has lost sight of the historical importance of Yankee Stadium.

Build it and they will come? I’m not too sure.

David Reines of Jefferson, NJ, July 23

Thursday, July 27, 2006

"Judge Halts Washington Sq. Park Redesign" NY Times 7/27/6

Judge Halts Washington Sq. Park Redesign

Published: July 27, 2006

A State Supreme Court judge has halted the city’s plan to redesign Washington Square Park, saying the Bloomberg administration violated the City Charter by failing to notify the public about all of the proposed changes.

The ruling, handed down on Tuesday by Justice Emily Jane Goodman, bars the Department of Parks and Recreation from beginning a $16 million renovation until the redesign plan goes through the entire approval process again, beginning with the local community board.

The proposal must also be re-approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Arts Commission.

The decision is the latest setback for the parks department in its effort to push through the park’s most significant alteration since the late 1950’s, when Eleanor Roosevelt and the urbanist Jane Jacobs took an active role and traffic was banned.

Now the city will again be forced to make its case for redesign, which has inspired impassioned debate in Greenwich Village and includes plans to move the centerpiece fountain about 22 feet so it aligns with the park’s arch and to install a perimeter fence.

Residents have accused the parks department of hiding critical elements of the plan and of acting without sufficient community input.

In her ruling, Justice Goodman found that the parks department failed to fully disclose information about the redesign, including the addition of a 45-foot spray jet to the park’s fountain and reduction of the size of the plaza surrounding the fountain by at least 23 percent. The plaza has traditionally been used as a performance space, and the parks department pledged to a council member not to shrink the area by more than 10 percent.

In a statement, Chris Reo, senior counsel of the City Law Department’s environmental law division, said the city was reviewing its legal options.

“We believe that the court’s ruling is erroneous, because it ignores the fact that the parks department’s renovation plan for Washington Square Park has been the result of more than two years of public outreach and input,” Mr. Reo said.

While most people agree that the 9.75-acre park needs a makeover, opponents believe that many of the changes will turn an open space with a tradition of nonconformity into a cookie cutter park.

The park’s fountain has long been one of the city’s popular spots for residents and tourists — the site of poetry and musical performances in the 1950’s and 1960’s by Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan and of mimes, dancers and hip-hop artists today.

The ruling did not address other elements of the redesign, including the shifting of the fountain and the building of a perimeter fence, though the proposal could be altered as it makes its way again through a second review process.

The redesign was approved by Community Board 2 last year after a series of raucous public hearings. The Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Arts Commission also ratified the renovation.

Jonathan Greenberg, a Greenwich Village resident who filed the lawsuit, which sought to stop the renovation, said that the decision would allow the neighborhood to get another look at the proposal.

“I feel very pleased that there will be some transparency and accountability in this process,” he said.

While the city’s community boards have only advisory power, Justice Goodman said that a board’s role in the democratic process is protected by the City Charter.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Taxpayers cover Yanks’ execs, lobbyist costs" MetroNY 07/26/06

Taxpayers cover Yanks’ execs, lobbyist costs

by patrick arden / metro new york

JUL 26, 2006

MANHATTAN — A clause in the Yankees’ stadium lease allowed the team to deduct the cost of executive salaries and lobbyists pushing its new stadium plan from the rent it paid to the city over the last five years.

As detailed by journalist Neil deMause in today’s Village Voice, a deal struck with the Giuliani administration in late 2001 gave the Yankees and the Mets a right to write off a combined $36 million in “planning costs” for new ballparks from their rent. For the Yankees, that deduction even paid for lobbyists in discussions with city officials — and 30 percent of the 2004 salary of the team’s president, Randy Levine.

The role of lobbyists in winning approvals for the Yankees’ new stadium has been widely reported. Earlier this month, the team’s financing plan received an OK from the Internal Revenue Service, and its design on using Bronx parkland got the go-ahead from the National Park Service.

Metro’s calls to Levine were directed to spokesperson Alice McGillion, who had no comment on the rent deductions and remained uncertain about the team’s schedule for breaking ground.

Inside pitches

Levine has long played the game of insider baseball. While he was Rudolph Giuliani’s deputy mayor for economic development — collecting a city paycheck of $142,140 a year — he also earned $900,000 on the side as a consultant to Major League Baseball.

The city’s Conflicts of Interest Board had allowed Levine to moonlight, but it barred him from discussions with the Yankees or the Mets, who were both looking for hundreds of millions in subsidies to build new stadiums. After Levine left City Hall in 2000 for the Yankees’ job, observers wondered how he could possibly not recuse himself from stadium negotiations with the city.

Addition by subtraction

The Yankees have also long taken advantage of provisions in its lease agreement to deduct maintenance expenses, but audits by the city’s Comptroller have repeatedly found the team overstating its deductions.

For 2005, the Comptroller's Office disallowed $320,919 of the Yankees claimed rental credits for lack of documentation, taking ineligible expenses and errors in calculations. Between 1997 and 2002, the audit discovered, the Yankees underreported revenue by $9,070,960 and overstated deductions by $34,489,804. After disputing the conclusion that it still owed the city $3.6 million, the team cut a check for that amount last January. In three preceding audits, the Comptroller disallowed $2,399,051 in rental credits.

These audits did not track deductions for new stadium “planning costs,” said spokesperson Laura Rivera.

“Even though the Yankees often end up paying what they owe the city, this annual dance is just another way of taking taxpayers for a ride,” said Dan Steinberg, a research analyst with the government watchdog group Good Jobs New York. Earlier this year Steinberg authored a study that found government subsidies for the Yankees’ new stadium could top $400 million.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"Yankee Lobbyists on Taxpayers' Tab" Village Voice 07/25/06

Yankee Lobbyists on Taxpayers' Tab
Circling the bases: Documents reveal city paid the team's lobbyists and execs—for lobbying city and state officials
by Neil deMause
July 25th, 2006 11:47 AM in Village Voice

City documents newly uncovered by the Voice reveal that the New York Yankees billed city tax- payers hundreds of thousands of dollars for the salaries of team execs and high-powered consultants to lobby the city and state, thanks to the team's sweetheart lease deal engineered by the Giuliani administration.

"You've created this weird circular situation where the city is, effectively, paying with taxpayer money to have itself lobbied for potentially more taxpayer money," says Common Cause's Megan Quattlebaum, one of several government watchdogs who were dumbfounded when the Voice told them last week about the deal. "Taxpayers would not be pleased at all to hear that the city is subsidizing someone to come back and hold their hand out to lobby for more."

The Yankees are apparently taking advantage of a clause in their lease with the city that allows "planning costs" of their new $1.3 billion stadium—groundbreaking for which could take place as soon as next week—to be deducted from the team's rent. The planning deductions date back to a lease renegotiation arranged by Mayor Rudy Giuliani in his final days in office. Under the December 28, 2001, lease deal, both the Yankees and the Mets were allowed to deduct up to $5 million apiece from their annual rent payments to the city, to be used for planning the new stadiums that Giuliani proposed to build, with city aid, across the street from the teams' existing homes.

One month later, incoming mayor Mike Bloomberg scotched Giuliani's stadium plans, declaring it was "just not practical this year to go and build stadiums." But he let the new Giuliani leases stand, even as Comptroller William Thompson insisted they were unnecessary giveaways and demanded they be renegotiated. As a result, according to the city parks department, which oversees the teams' leases, from 2001 to 2005 the Yankees charged the city $15.97 million under the "planning cost" clause; the Mets, $20.2 million.

Until recently, the city had insisted that it had no details of how the "planning" money was spent. But a review of documents submitted by the Yankees to the parks department—pried from the city only after a Freedom of Information Law filing (a separate request has been made for Mets city documents)—shows that the beneficiaries of the city money include not just those working to design the stadium, but also those trying to extract public approvals for it as well.

For starters, Yankees president Randy Levine (a former deputy mayor under Giuliani) and the team's chief operating officer, Lonn Trost—the two top Yankee officials working for passage of the stadium deal—received a combined $312,500 in city money in 2004. The Yankees' justification, according to the documents: The amount totaled 30 percent of Levine's annual salary and 20 percent of Trost's, representing the time each spent working on the stadium project.

Even more audaciously, the Yankees in 2004 charged the city $203,055.87 for the services of Powers and Company, the Albany-based lobbying firm headed by former Republican state chair Bill Powers, one of the men who handpicked George Pataki for his successful challenge in 1994 to Governor Mario Cuomo. (Powers was also tight enough with Giuliani to have raised $1 million for his 1993 mayoral campaign.) According to filings with the New York Temporary State Commission on Lobbying, Powers was hired by the Yankees to lobby the state senate and assembly and the governor's office for permission to use 25 acres of Bronx parkland and $70 million in state money for the stadium— permission that, as the Voice has reported ("Playing Hardball," March 15–21, 2006), was granted in June 2005 after no discussion or debate in the legislature.

The city even apparently paid the Yankees to lobby the city itself. Another recipient of city money, via the Yankees, was the law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, which, according to the New York City clerk's lobbyist database, has served as a registered lobbyist for both Tishman Speyer, the Yankees' project managers for the stadium, and the Yankees themselves. (Tishman's $1.9 million in 2004 was the number one billable item in the stadium planning account.) Working on the Yankee account, the documents show, was land-use lawyer and lobbyist Stephen Lefkowitz: The son of longtime state attorney general Louis Lefkowitz, he has been involved with nearly every major development project in recent city history, including Battery Park City, the Time Warner Center, the attempts to build a new New York Stock Exchange and a Manhattan Jets stadium, and Bruce Ratner's Metrotech and Atlantic Yards projects.

Most of the $4.1 million that the Yankees charged to the city in 2004, records show, went for legitimate stadium expenses—soil borings in Macombs Dam Park, architectural renderings, and so on. (The biggest recipient after Tishman Speyer: the design firm Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, whose principal architect Earl Santee pulled in $350 an hour in city funds to design George Steinbrenner's new playpen.) But even here, dubious bills put on the public tab included such items as a $167 meal for three engineering consultants at the Yankees' own Stadium Club.

And while not itself registered as a lobbyist, Tishman Speyer received city cash for several meetings in 2003 and 2004 with city officials, including Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión and Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, both of whom ended up becoming backers of the Yanks' stadium plans. At one November 1, 2004, meeting to discuss the pending stadium legislation, all the people in the room—Levine and Trost for the Yankees; Valerie Peltier for Tishman Speyer; and Lefkowitz for Fried, Frank, who charged $1,420 for a two-hour meeting—were billing their hours to the city treasury.

Skeezy as all this may be, lobbying experts say it's unlikely that any of it is illegal. State lobbying commission director David Grandeau explains that as long as the Yankee lobbyists registered with the state (they did) and the city didn't know ahead of time that its money was going to the likes of Bill Powers, it's all within the law. Quattlebaum adds, "I'm not sure that the writers of the lobby law would have anticipated exactly this situation."

While it's not uncommon for companies to get public money to train their executives in, say, language skills or conflict resolution, says Greg LeRoy of Good Jobs First, a national subsidy-watch group, "I can't recall any economic development contract specifically providing for executive salaries or lobbyist salaries. Given that the Yankees are expecting almost half a billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies for their new stadium, it's outrageous to consider that taxpayers may be footing the lobbying bill too."

Parks officials refused comment on the lobbying figures. Calls to Bloomberg, Quinn, and Thompson weren't returned.

Giuliani's lease deal left the door wide-open for the city's ball clubs to dip into the public treasury by defining "stadium planning" as including "the preparation of studies, surveys, tests, analyses, estimates and designs, [and] architectural, engineering, design, financing, accounting, consulting, planning, surveying, environmental, land use, and legal services"—and specifically including team officials' prorated time as an allowable expense.

"The lease gives the Yankees an incredible amount of leeway," says Quattlebaum. "That language is incredibly broad."

In any case, no one in city government, it appears, was keeping tabs on the Yankees' spending. The parks department, though it holds the lease on Yankee Stadium, insists that the comptroller was responsible for auditing the planning deductions. Yet Thompson, who issues yearly audits of the team's maintenance costs—often making headlines when Steinbrenner's rent bill goes up a few hundred thousand dollars as a result—did not do the same for the planning deductions, and Thompson spokesperson Laura Rivera says the office has no intention of conducting an audit at this time.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

"The House That Steinbrenner Is Building" NY Times 07/23/06

The House That Steinbrenner Is Building
By KEN BELSON in New York Times, Sunday, July 23, 2006

IT’S another June evening in baseball and the Boston Red Sox are visiting New York for the latest showdown with their archenemy, the Yankees. As it is at every meeting between the teams, the stadium is packed and crackling with energy.

Few in the stands, though, notice that the man perhaps most responsible for the revival of their rivalry is not there. George Steinbrenner, the principal owner of the Yankees and the man New Yorkers love to hate, now watches more games at his home in Tampa, Fla., than he does in his private box above home plate.

Although he is 76 and noticeably slower than he was when he took over the Yankees 33 years ago, Mr. Steinbrenner remains, according to those who know and work with him, deeply involved in the Yankees operation. Despite rumors that failing health has shrunk his ambition, the Boss, as he is known to all in baseball, is pushing all of his employees to try to win championships — and spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year to accomplish it.

That perennial drive is a big reason, analysts say, that the Yankees have broken new financial ground on the field and off. Bankers, analysts and others familiar with the team’s finances say the franchise is now worth about $1 billion, nearly 70 percent more than the next most valuable team, the Red Sox, and nearly three times more than the average major league team is worth.

Making the most of a winning tradition and their home in the nation’s biggest city and media market, the Yankees generate nearly $300 million in annual revenue, according to an individual with knowledge of the team’s finances. He requested anonymity because of his continuing professional relationship with the team.

But as Mr. Steinbrenner’s stewardship of the nation’s most-fabled baseball franchise stretches into its fourth decade, his win-at-all-costs business model appears stressed. Yes, the Yankees earn the most money, but analysts say they also spend the most, giving the team razor-thin profit margins. And the Yankees offer such a pre-eminent model for how to milk money from a sports team that its well-being has become a proxy for the financial prospects — and limitations — of professional baseball as a whole.

“If the franchise that is the beacon for the league is not making an operating profit, that has to be a major concern for any league,” said Bernard J. Mullin, the chief executive of the Atlanta Spirit, which owns the N.B.A. Hawks and the N.H.L. Thrashers, and a former executive with the Colorado Rockies and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Yankees’ haul is produced by its share of the No. 1-ranked regional sports network, YES, as well as the more than four million fans who flock to the Bronx in a season and pay top dollar for tickets, parking and food at the 83-year-old shrine known as the House That Ruth Built. The Yankees also get some of the highest licensing and advertising fees in Major League Baseball.

TO keep up with the escalating prices that it pays its players — a surge that Mr. Steinbrenner himself set in motion — the Yankees need still more revenue. Yet they have extracted about as much as they can from Yankee Stadium, which now suffers from a dearth of luxury boxes, parking and retail outlets. The Yankees’ bottom line is also hammered because the team, like the Mets and Red Sox, must pay millions of dollars to prop up less-prosperous teams. Effectively penalized for their success, the Yankees have become a symbol of baseball’s partially inverted economics.

Mr. Steinbrenner — now the longest-serving owner in baseball — shows no intention of stepping down, which is good news for the fans, sportswriters and even team owners who thrive on demonizing him. But the Yankees’ juggernaut has been built in part on Mr. Steinbrenner’s willingness to routinely fund the team’s outsize payroll, a munificence that may not continue when he eventually steps down.

Mr. Steinbrenner, who declined to comment for this article, is grooming his son-in-law, Steve Swindal, to take over the team. Meanwhile, the Yankees are trying to cut their payroll by using younger and cheaper players when possible and staking their financial future on a new megastadium.

“The new stadium is going to have all the tradition of the old stadium, with all the modern amenities,” said Randy Levine, the team’s president. “Bleachers will be there. Restaurants will be open. There will be a great hall when you walk into the stadium that can be used for events. The idea is to make this a year-round destination.”

Set for a 2009 debut, the stadium, including building costs and debt payments, will carry a $1 billion price tag. To pay for it, the Yankees will need to generate an additional $50 million to $60 million a year in revenue, according to analysts. Mr. Levine declined to discuss how much money the team expects to earn in its new digs, though he ruled out selling the naming rights to the stadium.

Other baseball executives and analysts, though, question whether the stadium will be as much of a bonanza as the team may hope. The Yankees already sell out most of their current seats and suites, they say, and the new stadium will have several thousand fewer seats. To offset that loss, the Yankees plan to have 60 suites in the new stadium, three times as many as they offer now. If the stadium does not create a financial windfall for the Yankees, it is likely to cast a financial pall over other teams that are making an art out of chasing dollars with the same urgency that they chase titles.

“The Yankees have created tremendous expectations and have created the need to continue spending,” said Henry D. Fetter, the author of “Taking On the Yankees: Winning and Losing in the Business of Baseball.” “The Yankees have created a target for everyone else to aim at and been a stimulus for innovative management.”

High expectations at Yankees Stadium did not begin, of course, when Mr. Steinbrenner, using part of his shipbuilding fortune, led a group that bought the team in 1973. He is only the latest in a line of aggressive, well-heeled Yankees owners who have gone all out to field a winner and to force other teams to adapt.

That tradition started when Jacob Ruppert and Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston paid $450,000, then a record in baseball, to buy the club in 1915. At the time, the Yankees had spent nearly two decades as cellar-dwellers in the upstart American League.

Unlike most other owners back then, the men were wealthy enough that they could funnel the team’s profits back into the franchise — and they proved it by buying Babe Ruth from the Red Sox and building Yankee Stadium, which became an instant hit when it opened in 1923.

During the 20’s, the Yankees earned more than $3.5 million cumulatively, according to Mr. Fetter’s book. By reinvesting those profits, Mr. Ruppert — who bought out Mr. Huston in 1922 — allowed the Yankees to buy the best talent, win championships and draw more fans, which gave the team even more money to keep the cycle going. .

Teams whose owners sucked money out of their business typically suffered over the long term — teams like the New York Giants, which sank in the standings after reigning as the National League’s premier team in the early part of the 20th century.

Mr. Ruppert also introduced the template for modern sports management, creating a division of labor among managers on the field, general managers who handled trades and contracts and owners who wrote the checks. Mr. Ruppert also set the tone for his franchise, hammering home — in Steinbrennerian shades — that winning was everything. “There is no charity in baseball,” he said. “I want to win the pennant every year, and the bigger the margin of victory, the better.”

THE Yankees won championships so methodically and mercilessly that cheering for the team was sometimes compared to supporting United States Steel. Teams of lesser means had to innovate to compete. The St. Louis Cardinals, led by Branch Rickey, fished for talent on the cheap in the 1920’s by developing minor-league teams, a strategy that Mr. Rickey mined later when he ran the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Some teams tried to compete by buying big-name players, but those in cities with fewer fans and media dollars inevitably proved unable to support their big payrolls. After they started cutting salaries, their franchises went into competitive and financial tailspins.

The Yankees were not immune from this vicious cycle.

After dominating baseball for decades, the Yankees languished in the years after CBS bought them in 1964. The company thought that the team would help diversify its portfolio, and CBS bean counters saw a bloated enterprise in need of cost-cutting. Unfortunately for the team and its fans, CBS failed to grasp that success in baseball is often more expensive than losing. As it dumped players with big salaries, the team slid into a decadelong funk and regularly lost money. In 1973, CBS sold the Yankees to a group led by Mr. Steinbrenner for $10 million — $3 million less than what CBS paid a decade earlier.

Yankees fans and the city’s news media, never warm and fuzzy about outsiders, initially greeted Mr. Steinbrenner’s arrival with skepticism. He professed admiration for the Yankees, talking about how as a child he could not wait for the team to visit Cleveland, his hometown, to play the Indians. He also promised to take a back seat, leaving the running of the team to others.

But he quickly did an about-face, bringing in his own people to run things, involving himself in every aspect of the club’s operations and alienating employees, players and fans. He publicly lambasted his managers and players — serially hiring and firing Billy Martin as manager in the 1970’s and 80’s, for example. The ranting went on for decades; in 1999, he called a pitcher, Hideki Irabu, a “fat toad.”

Buster Olney, a former sportswriter for The New York Times, summed up the Boss’s management style in his book, “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty”: “George Steinbrenner would never entrust his team to God. That would mean giving up too much control. Instead, the Yankees’ owner audited the team from moment to moment, like a caffeinated rent-a-cop monitoring a Wal-Mart through security cameras.”

Mr. Steinbrenner was capricious, firing employees for perceived infractions, but keeping others on the payroll for seemingly inexplicable reasons. His antics got him attention, whether it meant being lampooned on the television sitcom “Seinfeld,” or finding himself in the middle of messier real-life episodes, such as his ban in 1990 from operating the Yankees after he paid a gambler $40,000 for possibly derogatory information about the outfielder Dave Winfield; the ban was lifted in 1993.

FOIBLES aside, Mr. Steinbrenner, according to associates, cared deeply about the Yankees as a team and an institution, going so far as to cry on national television after a World Series victory. And like Mr. Ruppert, he was also willing to put his money where his mouth was — a fact he also made abundantly clear soon after he arrived in New York.

“When the Yankees signed Catfish Hunter in 1974, it signaled that ‘We want to win again and we’ll do everything we reasonably can to win,’ ” said Donald M. Fehr, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association. The signing was a watershed in huge contracts for free agents.

Mr. Steinbrenner went on spending, luring Reggie Jackson, Goose Gossage and other big-name players. The largess paid off quickly. In 1976, the Yankees won their first pennant in a dozen years; the team won the World Series the next two years. They lost the 1981 World Series, during which Mr. Steinbrenner broke his hand. (He said the injury came in a fight in an elevator with two fans who insulted the team, but his aggressors never materialized. Others suspected that he punched the elevator in frustration.)

Mr. Steinbrenner’s willingness to spend heavily for players helped to drive up salaries across the league — a boon to players, but the source of endless grumbling among other owners. It has also led to efforts to quantify the impact of money on a team’s performance. The most prominent attempt came in 2000 when the baseball commissioner’s “Blue Ribbon Panel on Baseball Economics” published a study about the matter.

The panel found that teams with more money did better than those with less money, and that the gap between the haves and have-nots was growing. According to the report, the gap between the clubs with the highest and lowest revenue from tickets and other locally sold items more than doubled from 1995 to 1999. During the same period, no club that ranked in the lower half by payroll won a playoff game.

“Too many clubs in low-revenue markets can only expect to compete for postseason berths if ownership is willing to incur staggering operating losses to subsidize a competitive player payroll,” the panel concluded.

Many others in baseball, though, say the Yankees and other prosperous teams are good for the sport because they raise the level of competition and force other teams to be more aggressive.

“Their success and payroll raise a few eyebrows that one team is so dominant,” said Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economics professor at Smith College and the author of “In the Best Interests of Baseball? The Revolutionary Reign of Bud Selig.” “But I happen to think it’s good for baseball that the Yankees and Boston are the teams others can gun for.”

There is also plenty of evidence to show that money does not necessarily equal success. The Oakland Athletics, with one of the league’s smaller payrolls, have consistently fielded winners in recent years. The Chicago Cubs, with fat payrolls and plenty of revenue, have not won a World Series in nearly a century.

Despite Mr. Steinbrenner’s heavy spending and quick success on the field after he became owner, the Yankees lost money in five of the six seasons from 1974 to 1979, according to financial statements prepared by Arthur Andersen & Company and as reported by the sportswriter Murray Chass in The New York Times.

“In his willingness to outspend everyone, the team became a focal point,” said Maury Brown, co-chairman of the business of baseball committee at the Society for American Baseball Research. Mr. Steinbrenner, he said, “seems to be a man driven to succeed at all costs and pours his money back into payroll.”

Even with all that spending, the Yankees haven’t always maintained a lock on winning. While it currently has a $195 million payroll, the biggest in baseball by a wide margin, and has advanced to the playoffs every year since 1995, the team has not won the World Series since 2000. In 2003, the Florida Marlins — a team with a payroll one-third the size — beat the Yankees in the World Series.

Analysts also say that money alone does not explain Mr. Steinbrenner’s success. They note that he has surrounded himself with creative marketers, as evidenced by the team’s deal in 1988 to broadcast its games on cable television — a page taken from Ted Turner, who did the same with the Atlanta Braves.

In 2002, an investment group that included the Yankees formed the YES Network, further leveraging the team’s brand. YES brought in $257 million last year, surpassing MSG to become the country’s top regional sports network for the first time, according to Kagan Research.

“It’s not just attendance any more,” said Tracy Dolgin, the chief executive of YES. “The better you do as a franchise, a cycle develops. When you’re winning, there’s interest in the team and your ratings are higher. Then attendance increases, you sell more food, more parking. It’s an upward spiral.”

The team has also signed big licensing deals with sponsors like Adidas and formed partnerships overseas, including one with the Japanese newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, many of whose readers follow every move of Hideki Matsui, the Yankee left fielder. Two years ago, the Yankees formed a venture with Steiner Sports Marketing called Yankees-Steiner Collectibles to market jerseys, bats, helmets and other gear that players use.

“The Yankees have transcended baseball and sports; they are an iconic brand,” said Rick Dudley, the chief executive of Octagon Worldwide, which puts together sports sponsorship deals. “You want to be contemporary, but there’s nothing more contemporary than a classic.”

ALL of these happy economics, however, may be running into a wall, some sports executives say, and the Yankees’ new stadium may not provide the revenue gusher that Mr. Steinbrenner and his executives expect. The YES Network already reaps the highest fees of any regional sports network from cable companies — and those companies are likely to resist paying even more.

“The status quo on the revenue side is well established,” said one former executive who has direct knowledge of the Yankees’ finances and requested anonymity because of his contractual obligations to the team. “George is getting every nickel he can.”

The challenges of financing the new stadium can be softened in some ways. The Yankees will be able to deduct some of the costs of building and operating the stadium from their contributions to other teams under the league’s revenue-sharing agreement. The Yankees will also receive about $400 million in government subsidies, according to Neil deMause, co-author of “Field of Schemes,” a 1998 book that dissects stadium deals.

The city and state governments will build a parking lot at the stadium, for example. The New York City Industrial Development Agency will also issue bonds, most of which will be tax-exempt and carry lower interest rates. That will save the Yankees millions of dollars in payments over the bonds’ life.

The Yankees need the subsidies, tax breaks and new revenue not only to pay for the stadium, but also the team’s hefty payroll. Without that padding, the Yankees might find it harder to assemble a winning team. And without a winning team, it will be harder to raise tickets prices, broadcast rights and other fees.

An environmental impact statement compiled by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation projects that the average ticket price in the new stadium will be $57, as opposed to $45 in the old stadium. And Mr. Dudley and analysts expect the Yankees to be able to charge a hefty premium for advertising in the new ballpark. The team could also sell personal seat licenses, which are options to buy season tickets, as some N.F.L. teams do.

SOME sports executives compare the new revenue streams to oil wells because they generate quick and handsome returns once developed. But it is also difficult to find new wells, and the pressure to do so is intense, not only in the Yankees organization but throughout Major League Baseball.

Teams regularly raise ticket prices and charge more for food, parking and memorabilia. But they walk a fine line between generating more money and appearing greedy and alienating fans. So they are toying with other innovations, like all-you-can-eat promotions, dining clubs and priority parking, and now sell sponsorships to individual games and sections of parks.

But “you would have to think there aren’t that many more iterations you can do,” said Mr. Mullin, the chief executive of the Atlanta basketball and hockey franchises.

That may bode more darkly for the Yankees than for other teams.

Of course, an array of baseball insiders have predicted for decades that the Yankees’ dynasty would soon end. But the team has almost always found new ways to succeed. Writing in The Saturday Evening Post in 1947, the sportswriter Red Smith asked “What Broke Up the Yankees?” Soon after, the Yankees began the most successful run of championships in the team’s history.

The Yankees, many people say, will keep winning at the gate and on the field because they have the most durable brand in the business, which gives them access to money and, in turn, the best players. Other teams also need the Yankees to succeed because the team contributes so much to the league’s revenue-sharing plan.

“While they curse Steinbrenner under their breath, the other owners are happy to take his money through revenue sharing,” said Mr. Brown of the Society for American Baseball Research.

But the owners will not have Mr. Steinbrenner to kick around forever. He attends far fewer games these days and speaks less often to the news media, often making pronouncements through his publicist, Howard J. Rubinstein.

Questions about Mr. Steinbrenner’s health took on a new urgency in 2003, when he fainted after a memorial service for the football great Otto Graham. When Mr. Steinbrenner stumbled while coming down the stairs after one recent Yankee home game, every New York newspaper took note. His malapropisms and off-color remarks are now viewed as a window into his health.

But those who deal with Mr. Steinbrenner say that he is as involved as ever.

“People are taking a larger role, but there’s no doubt who the boss is,” said David Boies, whose law firm, Boies, Schiller & Flexner, represents the Yankees. “It’s still George’s team and George’s business.”

Amid questions about his health and his role as the Yankees principal owner, Mr. Steinbrenner has been so successful for so long that, in the end, he has created something that even he may never have intended: an organization that will outlive him.

“I don’t ever see the Yankees in a rebuilding year — it flies in the face of the way they have done business for 50 years,” said Rodney Fort, a sports economist at Washington State University. “History suggests that after George Steinbrenner, someone else will come in and make even more money.”

Saturday, July 22, 2006

"Approvals Clear Way for Yankees to Build" NY Times, 7/22/6

Approvals Clear Way for Yankees to Build

Published: July 22, 2006

The proposed $800 million ballpark for the New York Yankees received final regulatory approval this week, clearing the way for the club to start construction atop two parks across the street from the existing stadium.

Yankees officials said they hoped to begin building the 53,000-seat structure by the end of summer.

Construction will involve paving over large portions of Macombs Dam Park and Mullaly Park and cutting down about 400 mature oak trees. The stadium is scheduled to open in 2009.

“The Yankees are delighted with the wide-ranging support they’ve received,” said Howard J. Rubenstein, a spokesman for the Yankees.

The project, which was approved by the City Council this spring, engendered intense opposition among many of the stadium’s South Bronx neighbors and from parks advocates, who protested the loss of the two popular parks and feared increased traffic and pollution problems in an area with high childhood asthma rates.

While the stadium won the support of nearly all of the Bronx’s elected officials, the plan was rejected by the local community board, which had only advisory power. Several of the dissenting community board members were later replaced by the Bronx borough president, Adolfo Carrión Jr., who emerged as the new stadium’s most forceful advocate.

Opponents say they will probably file a lawsuit to halt construction, contending that portions of the 28-acre Macombs Dam Park and 18.5-acre Mullaly Park had been unlawfully taken from the public.

“Since Day 1, everything has been predicated on satisfying the desires of the Yankees without a care for the community or the city’s taxpayers,” said Geoffrey M. Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates.

During the past week, the Internal Revenue Service and the National Park Service gave their approval, respectively, to the stadium’s financing plan and to its construction on parkland.

The park service approval was required because Macombs Dam Park received about $420,000 in federal improvement funds in the early 1980’s.

The park service concluded that the neighborhood’s loss of Macombs Dam Park would be offset by new parkland that the project would provide, including three ball fields at the current Yankee Stadium, which will be partly torn down; a park on the Bronx River; and small parks that are to be placed atop stadium parking garages.

The I.R.S. approved the stadium’s complex financing plan, in which the ballpark will be paid for by the Yankees with $920 million in tax-exempt, low-interest city bonds and $25 million in taxable bonds. The Yankees will repay the 40-year bonds with an annual payment in lieu of taxes. The bonds are to be offered in the next few weeks, said Janel Patterson, a spokeswoman for the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

The Yankees will pay rent on the city-owned stadium, as well as payments in lieu of taxes, Ms. Patterson said. The city and state will pay for infrastructure improvements, including new parking garages and possibly a Metro-North commuter station in the area.

The final community benefits agreement between the Yankees and Bronx elected officials calls for the club to establish the Bronx Community Trust Fund, in which the team will place $32 million over 40 years — about $800,000 a year.

The fund, which will be managed by an administrator who will be chosen later this summer by the team and by Bronx elected officials, will be distributed to local community and nonprofit groups.

The Yankees will also donate $100,000 in equipment and promotional merchandise to community and school groups and give away 15,000 tickets to home games. The average value of each ticket will be $25.

The community benefits agreement also calls for 25 percent of stadium construction work to go to Bronx businesses, with 50 percent of that total being reserved for businesses owned by women or minorities.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

SaveOurParks Press Release 07/19/06


Contact: Joyce Hogi (917) 743 0865

Community Calls Foul to Rubber Stamped Rulings

Save Our Parks is outraged but not surprised that within a 24 hour period both the National Park Service and the IRS rubber stamped the approvals needed for the new Yankee Stadium. It took the NPS only two weeks to make a decision, and one of the weeks included July 4th.

It is significant to note that the NPS accepted the assessment by New York State without question, and without reviewing the actual document. In its ruling, the IRS permitted the Yankees to pay off the bonds by making payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOT’s, even though the Yankees don’t pay taxes.

This ruling represents a perversion of the original intent of the PILOT program. This is corporate welfare at its finest, social injustice and environmental racism at its worst. This project represents the destruction of public parkland vital to the health and well being of the surrounding community, the poorest congressional district in the country, also known as “Asthma Alley”.

Save Our Parks, a grassroots community organization, will continue to fight this violation of the public trust in the courts and in the streets. This insensitive and callous land grab concocted by the Yankees and the City of New York represents both class and racial discrimination.

Please join our fight. We need your help both in terms of activism and financial support.

Donations for our legal team can be sent to:

Save Our Parks
PO Box 435
Bronx, NY 10451

Make checks out to our fiscal agent, BCEQ (Bronx Council for Environmental Quality). Please write "Save Our Parks" in the memo.

"Yanks get Fed" Metro NY 07/19/06

Yanks get Fed nod
New stadium approved by National Parks Service; foes plan lawsuits

by patrick arden / metro new york
JUL 19, 2006

BRONX — The controversial plan for a new Yankee Stadium took a step closer to reality last Friday, when the National Park Service finally gave the go-ahead for the team to use an 11.2-acre portion of Macombs Dam Park that had received federal funds in 1979.

The team is still waiting on IRS approval for its use of $920 million in tax-free financing, but the NPS decision came as a major blow to stadium opponents in the Highbridge community, who had hoped the feds would save them from the trouble of a lawsuit.

Even as the Yankees’ project was approved by the city this spring, the state had yet to complete the necessary paperwork to convert the parkland. Parks receiving government money are protected under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, unless they’re replaced with parks of equal value, “usefulness and location,” and “all practical alternatives” have been exhausted. Last month, the NPS’ Jack Howard told Metro he was still waiting on the state’s proposal. He warned the process could be lengthy. “This is not a rubber stamp,” he said.

A done deal?

But the process ended up being a simple matter. NPS spokesman Phil Sheridan said, “We received the materials on Friday [June] 30.” Fourteen days later it was done.

“It’s definitely a rubber stamp,” said attorney Antonia Bryson of the Urban Environmental Law Center. Yesterday Bryson was “making preparations” to sue the NPS, and she said additional suits against the city and the Yankees are a “definite possibility.”

“It took the Park Service two weeks to make a decision, and one of the weeks was July 4,” she said. “I can’t imagine they were working overtime.”

During the NPS’s public comment period, Geoffrey Croft of NYC Parks Advocates asked for the state’s final site appraisal. “The public has never had a chance to comment on that,” he said.

Neither did the NPS. “We don’t actually see a copy of the appraisal,” said Sheridan. “We rely on the state to look at this thing and say it’s OK.”

Looming lawsuit

Bryson, who helped fight the failed West Side stadium, called the case “one of clearest environmental justice issues I’ve ever seen.”

The neighborhood, she noted, is “virtually 100 percent Latino and African-American, and they depend on these parks.” The community, in fact, was built around the parks. “Now the stadium is jumping across that big divide and going right smack in front of these people’s windows.”

The Yankees did not return calls for comment.

Still, Bryson says, “being right is often not enough.” She worries the city’s promise to build parks in three years could be easily sidetracked.

“It’s hard to make people realize what an injustice this is,” she said. “Most people see it as a NIMBY fight, but this is one of the worst things you could have in your backyard.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"Park Service Okays Yanks' Park Demolition" Village Voice, 6/18/6

Park Service Okays Yanks' Park Demolition
By Neil deMause | July 18, 2006

One of the slim threads of red tape holding back the Yankees' plan to build a new stadium atop Macombs Dam Park has been snipped, as the National Park Service has okayed the use of federally funded parkland for the project. Though no official announcement has been made, Micaela Birmingham of New Yorkers for Parks stumbled upon news of the vote through a chance contact through a Park Service employee, posting it to NY4P's blog last night. "He assured me that the vote had happened at the end of last week," she told the Voice this morning. "I'm still waiting to get written confirmation."

Park Service approval had been considered uncertain, given that the agency's regulations require that replacement parkland be of "at least equal fair market value" and "reasonably equivalent usefulness and location" to the parks being paved over, and that "all practical alternatives" have been explored. Bronx residents have complained bitterly that building scattered-site parks, including a string of tennis courts on the far side of the Major Deegan, is no substitute for a centrally located neighborhood park.

Now the last agency standing between George Steinbrenner and Fred Wilpon and their stadium dreams is the Internal Revenue Service, which must sign off on the city's complex tax-exempt bond financing scheme before the money can actually be raised to pay for construction. (The IRS, like the Park Service, doesn't tell mere mortals when rulings will be forthcoming, but later this summer is a good guess.) The Mets in recent weeks have already created a staging area of construction equipment in the Shea Stadium parking lot, to be ready to put shovels in the ground the moment the feds give the word.

In the Bronx, matters could be a bit stickier, as the Bronx group Save Our Parks readies a lawsuit to challenge the Park Service ruling. Grand Concourse resident Joyce Hogi says her group will be meeting with lawyers from the Urban Environmental Law Center tomorrow, with a request for a court order to forestall construction likely in the coming weeks.

"Fewer Seats But More Cars at Yankee Stadium" Streetsblog 7/18/6

Few Seats But More Cars at Yankee Stadium

Anybody else catch the Discovery Channel's 2-hour special on global warming on Sunday night? It recapped the many problems we can expect to see from global warming: potential death for millions of people, millions more forced to move as coastal cities are permanently flooded, extinction for many species of plants and animals, more frequent severe weather events like forest fires, hurricanes and tornadoes, and positive feedback loops that reinforce the warming. It all would sort of a change life as we've come to know it - for the worse. Complete transformation of the planet: Every other issue sort of pales in comparison, and it makes one wonder, how can we be concerned about anything else?

A matter of this magnitude ought to guide every single public policy decision, starting 10 years ago. Urban planners in particular should be on the forefront of finding ways to reduce emission of greenhouse gases by encouraging the creation or revitalization of walkable, transit-served cities, and by reducing automobile use in them.

Given global warming, the plan for a new Yankee Stadium -- one that increases the number of parking spaces by 75% (while reducing the number of seats) -- is absolutely bonkers. Yes, the plan has an unfunded commitment to construct a new Metro-North station, but the focus is clearly on increasing parking in a community that already suffers from high rates of asthma.

It is all the more incomprehensible because the new stadium will continue to sit atop the 161st Street station served by the B, D and 4 trains. Taking a train to the game is a more fun way to get to the game than driving is anyway: You feel the collective energy of the crowd well before you get to the stadium; leaving is a breeze on the subway compared to sitting in a parking garage motionless as you jocky for position against all the other ill-tempered motorists.

New Yorkers for Parks is reporting that the plan is approved, but a commenter notes that the IRS still need to approve the tax-exempt bonds.

Monday, July 17, 2006

"Attack on Community Boards" Norwood News July 13-26, pages 8-9.

"Attack on Community Boards" Letter to Norwood News,
July 13-26, 2006 pages 8 to 9 reprinted

From clandestine park alienation votes, to a lockout from a public hearing, the new Yankee Stadium project has pulverized community rights in its path. The latest chapter is the purge of Bronx Community Board 4, the ramifications of which should alarm and disturb every civic-minded citizen.

Community board members are appointed by the borough president for two-year terms beginning in April. Although appointed by the borough president, community board appointees are not the borough president’s representatives to the community, but representatives of the community to the borough president. They are not required to vote as the borough president might wish but to advise the borough president on what they feel is best for their community. This is supported by the City Charter and is emphasized in the borough president’s orientation for new board members. So why is it that, of the 19 members up for reappointment, five who supported the project received another term while three who opposed it were ousted? (The fate of the others is uncertain at this writing.) There was no evident reason for not reappointing Gertrude Lane, Marie Stroud and Louise Williams except that they voted against the project.

The case of former Board chairman, Ade Rasul, is interesting. He voted for the project and yet was removed. The prevailing opinion in the community is that he was expelled because he failed to deliver the Board vote. If this is the case, just what was he expected to do? He reportedly did lobby his fellow Board members for the project and conducted an extremely fair public hearing on November 22, after which the Board voted against the project. Should he have manipulated the hearing as was done in the town hall meeting of November 17? Or should he have locked the community out, as was done in the December 12 public hearing? It seems that fairness is no longer a virtue in certain quarters since rumors abound that Gary Axelbank’s show on BRONXNET was axed because he gave air time to project opponents!

The fate of two others must be mentioned. Pat Canale voted against the project and did not apply for reappointment. Today, he complains that his sandwich shop has been visited by the Health Department too many times to be routine! District Manager David Mojica, a supporter of the project also has been removed, allegedly for failing to deliver the Board vote. The district manager is an employee of the community board, is not a Board member, does not vote and technically, should not actively lobby Board members. As with ex-chairman Rasul, what was Mojica expected to do?

Responding to questions about the purge, Bronx Borough President Carrion said: “My very clear expectation is that these appointees are there to carry out a vision for the borough president and the leadership of this borough, and that’s simply what I expect.” No statement could be more clear: Carrion evidently wants community boards to rubber stamp his decisions and presumably those of the Bronx Democratic machine and to transform community board members into his appointees to the community.

This is contrary to the spirit of the City Charter guaranteeing the integrity and independence of community boards. Members of Bronx Community Board 4 must ask for a full investigation by the Community Assistance Unit which governs all community boards in NYC. The image, reputation, relevance and viability of all Bronx community boards is now at stake. Community Board 4 members must seek the active support of the community which they were chosen to represent and they should seek support from the other 11 Bronx community boards. This is no longer about the Yankee Stadium project. It is an attack on democracy in the Bronx.

After witnessing the purge of Board 4, won’t other Bronx community board members be intimidated to vote their conscience on controversial issues? Why should energetic community activists or creative young people seek to join an organization where even being fair appears to be an act of courage? Why should neighborhood residents go to a Board with their problems if they think that board members are constrained from acting according to their conscience.

Another Carrion comment must be answered at this time, namely that “advocates and activists from outside the area” influenced the Board 4 vote. Only a couple of people testifying at the Nov. 22 hearing were from outside the area---everyone else was a community resident! It was the construction workers testifying for the project who were mostly from outside the area. Carrion is possibly making a “pre-emptive strike” at the idea postulated in the April 20 Norwood News that community organizations from all over the city must start working together.

All of us are citizens of New York City. If we feel that a great wrong is being done to our fellow citizens, it is our right—indeed, our obligation—to stand with them! Politicians who seem to have forgotten that they are public servants and who seem to feel that they are public masters must fear “community unionization.” For there is no political alliance that can overcome the united citizens of New York City. Together, the people will make New York City once again a government of, for, and by the people and not of, for and by the politicians.

John Rozankowski
The writer, a North Fordham resident, is a member of the Ravens, Friends of Poe Park.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

"Carrion’s evil board packing scheme" Letter in Riverdale Review 06/22/06

“Carrion’s evil board packing scheme” Letter in Riverdale Review 06/22/06 reprinted

To the Editor:

I have been a huge Riverdale Review fan for many years. I eagerly await each Wednesday to dive into the paper. I think it is head and shoulders above all other local publications, with articulate editorials, and great cartoons. I have been closely following the controversy over Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion. I think I have a fresh viewpoint on this matter.

If Carrion is trying to throw people off the community board for disagreeing with him over the Yankee Stadium plan, what is next? This reminds me of when Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to “pack” the Supreme Court to ensure results Roosevelt wanted. This is abhorrent to all Bronxites of good sense! Carrion’s act – which directly defies the democratic process – is a throwback to Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Gulags. Sure, it’s a small step, but Confucius said a long journey begins with a single step. Who knows, if this isn’t nipped in the bud now, there might be troops goose-stepping on Fordham Road by 2075! I for one, raise my wee voice against such heavy-handedness. I applaud the Review for doing the same. Keep up the good work, and please don’t abandon your post as watchdog for the Bronx. If sentries like you walk away, we’ll be in trouble.

Rivka Campbell

Saturday, July 15, 2006

"The Benefits of Parks and Recreation to our Economy" City of Fairfield website

The Benefits of Parks and Recreation to our Economy

Parks, recreation, and open space are not mere expenditures, but an investment in the future well-being of individuals and groups, our future, as well as the continued viability of communities and the world.

Parks, open spaces, the arts and recreation:

* Attract new businesses
* Increase tourism
* Boost the economy
* Lower health care costs
* Decrease Insurance premiums
* Reduce unemployment
* Boost employee productivity
* Curb employee absenteeism
* Generate revenue

Just the Facts:

A Brown University study reported that the United States could save $20 billion per year in healthcare costs if every American walked for an hour a day. (As reported in "One Small Step for Mankind," in the Hartford Advocate, 10/12/95. p.23)

The American Hotel & Lodging Association reported that Americans spent $150 billion on leisure related stays in 2000. That's 59% of the total American hotel/motel industry ($2.54 billion) for the year.

"In my view wholesome pleasure, sport and recreation are as vital to this nation as productive work and should have a large share in the national budget." Walt Disney

Friday, July 14, 2006

"Benefits of Parks and Recreation to the Environment" City of Fairfield website

Benefits of Parks and Recreation to the Environment

Providing and preserving parks and open spaces enhance the desirability of Fairfield as a place to live and work as well as contribute to the safety and health of its inhabitants.

Our care of our parks, natural habitats and open spaces:

* Provides clean air and water
* Protects the environment
* Fosters a sense of community pride
* Encourages appropriate uses of outdoor areas for activities
* Increases physical health and well-being
* Reduces stress

Just the Facts:

Six in ten Americans participate in outdoor recreation at least monthly. Their motivations for participation vary, but the top objectives are fun, relaxation, stress relief, experiencing nature and exercise. Americans who recreate frequently are notably happier with their lives than are other Americans: among active recreationists, the one in five Americans who recreate at least twice weekly, 45% report "complete satisfaction" with their overall quality of life and 49% report being "fairly well" satisfied.

Sixty-four percent of Americans consider it very important to conserve and protect wetlands, and 46 percent say they believe there are too few wetlands in North America according to a study conducted by Responsive Management. However, 63 percent could not name a single non-governmental organization that helps conserve wildlife and natural resources, and 57 percent could not identify a non-governmental group that protects the environment. Responsive Management, Spring 2002.

"The Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself." Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thursday, July 13, 2006

"Benefits of Parks and Recreation to the Community" City of Fairfield website

Benefits of Parks and Recreation to the Community

No man is an island. We live and interact within our family, work groups, neighborhoods, communities, and the world. Recreation and parks play an integral role in providing opportunities for these types of interactions.

Parks, recreation and the arts in our Community:

* Builds family unity
* Provides child care
* Promotes sensitivity to cultural diversity
* Increases community pride
* Reduces crime
* Increases property value
* Strengthens neighborhood involvement
* Provides safe places to play
* Educates children and adults

"America is not a blanket -- one piece of unbroken cloth, the same color, the same texture, the same size. America is more like a quilt -- many pieces, many colors, many sizes, all woven together and held together by a common thread." Jesse Jackson

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Bonds are approved to finance ballpark" MetroNY 07/12/06

Bonds are approved to finance ballpark

by patrick arden / metro new york

JUL 12, 2006

THE BRONX — Three months ago, the city’s financing scheme for the proposed new Yankee Stadium was called “very, very aggressive” by the Independent Budget Office. Yesterday, that plan apparently became even more aggressive, as the city’s Industrial Development Agency authorized $920 million in tax-exempt bonds to fund the new ballpark, up from $866 million.

While yesterday’s OK had been expected, the deal still hinges on the approval of the Internal Revenue Service. Under federal law, tax-exempt bonds can only be used to build sports facilities if those bonds are repaid with “payments in lieu of taxes,” or PILOTS. Currently the team pays no taxes.

In April the IBO noted the Yankees would need to pay “about $66 million” annually to repay the $866 million in tax-exempt bonds, while the team’s estimated property tax bill — if it paid property taxes — would only equal $37 million. “They’re trying to make it look like they’re financing this with general public revenues, although in this case [the funds to pay off the debt are] coming from the stadium,” IBO deputy director George Sweeting told the City Council finance committee.

IDA spokesperson Janel Patterson said the increase in tax-exempt bonds was expected. “We knew those numbers were evolving as market conditions changed and the team worked out its construction requirements,” she explained.

The number of permanent jobs created by the stadium was also lowered to 615. Previous projections were closer to 1,000. “The new number excludes concessions,” Patterson said. “The larger number might take into consideration what we call indirect jobs.”

Tax-exempt bonds

• While yesterday’s OK had been expected, the deal still hinges on the approval of the Internal Revenue Service. Under federal law, tax-exempt bonds can only be used to build sports facilities if those bonds are repaid with “payments in lieu of taxes,” or PILOTS. Currently the Yankees pay no taxes.

"Benefits of Parks and Recreation to You" City of Fairfield website

Benefits of Parks and Recreation to You, the Individual

Open spaces, parks and recreation provide opportunities for living, learning and leading a full and productive life as well as act as avenues for purpose, pleasure, health and well-being.

Parks, recreation and the arts help you:

* Be happier
* Relax
* Conquer boredom
* Feel great
* Lose weight
* Build strong bodies
* Build self-esteem
* Reduce stress
* Meet friends and make new friends
* Eliminate loneliness
* Enhance relationship skills
* Learn vital life skills
* Live longer
* Improve the quality of our lives
* Diminish chance of disease
* Prosper

Just the facts:

A study published in the journal Health Affairs found that people who are obese have 30 to 50 percent more chronic medical problems than smokers or drinkers. Health complications linked to obesity such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, stroke and certain cancers raise an individual’s healthcare costs by 36 percent and medication costs by 77 percent. Less physical activity, more hours in front of the television, and a car-obsessed culture were all cited by the author as significant causes of America’s growing obesity problem. "Obesity Harder on Health than Smoking," Reuters, March 12, 2002.

Eighty-eight percent of parents believe that participating in outdoor activities strengthens family relationships according to an REI national survey of parents with children ages four to 14. Parents ranked camping as the number one "great outdoor family experience" (33%), followed by hiking (14.5%), bicycling (13.3%), and fishing (12.8%). Sports Edge Newswire, May 29, 2002.

"Play for grown people is recreation -- the renewal of life; play for children is growth -- the gaining of life." Joseph Lee, Father of the American Playground

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"The Benefits Are Endless!" City of Fairfield website

The Benefits Are Endless!
The Benefits Are Endless...

What is a benefit?

According to the American College Dictionary, a benefit is anything that is for the good of a person or a thing.

So, what's in it for me?

"Don't tell me how good you make it; tell me how good it makes me feel when I use it." -- Leo Burnett

The benefits can be a walk in the woods for a weary adult. It can be the sense of exhilaration for the child who hits the ball with a bat for the very first time. It can be the positve feeling of exhaustion that volunteers feel at the end of the day. Or it might be that intangible sense of connection people feel when gathered with others to enjoy a fireworks display.

We can relax and enjoy the beauty of a sunset in the park. We can watch a musical performance and spend time with family or friends at the theater. We can experience new activities like fencing or a pilates class. There is almost a limitless number of benefits we receive because of parks, open spaces and recreation.

What are the Benefits of Parks and Recreation

The benefits of parks and recreation have been organized into four major categories: Individual, Community, Economic and Environmental. Within each category are specific benefits, that highlight some of the ways parks and recreation work for you, your neighbors, your family and your community! In the navigation bar to the right, you'll find a listing of the four categories and within each category are specific benefits, which are substantiated by facts, field studies, testimonials and research findings and specific benefits.

Everyone Benefits

Everyone in the world has somehow benefited from park and recreation programs at some time in their lives either directly or indirectly. The time has come to make the connection between past experiences and today’s success, yesterday’s activities, and tomorrow’s physical and mental wellness, and today’s taxpayer support and safe communities for our children and grandchildren! So, whether you are an avid participant or occasional observer, enjoy the benefits. It’s everyone’s right.

Beyond "Fun and Games".

Often people need to be reminded of how vital parks and recreation are to the quality of their lives. While fun, happiness, and play are vital to growth and development, the expanded role of public parks and recreation is more critical than ever. Whether we know it or not, programs, services, events, and opportunities offered by local, state, and national park and recreation agencies positively impact our lives and the society as a whole.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

"Designer Trees Coming to New York City" LiveScience 07/06/06

Designer Trees Coming to New York City
By Sara Goudarzi
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 06 July 2006
08:03 am ET

New York City is world famous as a showcase for designer clothes, shoes, and furniture. The latest designer item will be urbanite trees that can withstand the harsh inner-city setting.

Trees have it rough in New York. They have to withstand compacted acidic soils, road salt, and low hanging utility wires, to name just a few challenges.

Yet nowhere are trees more needed than in cities.

Trees improve urban life not only by providing natural beauty and shade but also by taking up carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. They also reduce greenhouse gases and storm-water runoff and cut down on summer energy needs, said Andrew Hillman, the forester for Ithaca, where he oversees 14,000 trees.

In an effort to improve the survival chances of urban trees, scientists have developed a cloning technique that allows oaks to develop their own root system rather than having growers painstakingly use the grafting method, which involves propagation by joining plant parts.

The new method could develop trees that are easy to establish at nurseries and transplant to cities such as New York.

Oaks generally don't root from cuttings. For this reason, researchers from Cornell University have been working with an ornamental plant breeder in an effort to improve this tree's rootability

"We have combined native cold-hardy trees with much shorter southern and desert species that can tolerate heat, drought, compacted low-oxygen soil, road salt and the concrete-induced high pH soils common to cities," said Peter Podaras of the Landscape Plant Development Center in Mound, Minn. "Smaller-sized trees require less long-term maintenance and do not interfere with power lines. We believe these new, extremely vigorous hybrids have excellent potential as the ultimate street trees and for backyard landscaping."

About 200 combinations of oak were started at Cornell. Some of them are now six feet tall. The university is also growing maple clones that were crossed with a shorter, drought-tolerant Chinese variety that can be used in city settings. These varieties will be tested in Long Island and central and western New York later this year.

"If the new clones root well and prove to be tolerant of urban growing conditions, including drought and extreme wet weather, they represent a huge economic market potential for New York nurseries through purchasing by municipal foresters, arborists and homeowners," said project leader Nina Bassuk of Cornell University's Urban Horticulture Institute.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Drama at CB4, 6/7/6; Part 3: Rev. Jim Fairbanks

The Players:

Mr. Shipp--Acting Chairperson CB4

Ms. Mangual--Representative for the Bronx Borough President

Rev. James Fairbanks--Chief of Staff for NYC Council Member Helen Diane Foster

David Mojica--District Manager CB4

In our last two episodes (scroll down to read them first, if you haven't. Both are loaded with drama and unintentional humor!), we saw Lukas Herbert make a motion to reject the slate of the Nominating Committee, have that motion seconded, but not voted on (why not?). After repeated assurances that board members would have an opportunity to nominate from the floor at the next meeting (didn't happen, natch), thoughts of the BP's actions seemed to have slipped away.

Until Reverend Jim Fairbanks got up to give his report. He didn't get far before he came around to the elephant in the room. Watch as Mangual, the BP's rep at the meeting, attacks him in the middle of his report. How dare Jim Fairbanks lift the curtain and reveal to civilian's the machinations of dirty pool?! He is OUT OF LINE. Thank you, Jim, from many of us!

LET'S TUNE IN to Rev Fairbank's report to CB4, now in progress:

Mr. Fairbanks continued by stating that planning board reappointments were given by the city charter to be the purview of the borough president and the city council members. The borough president appoints 100%, but the council members recommend 50% of the appointments to the borough president.

Rev Fairbanks: Council Member Foster, as always, wrote her letter to the borough president saying these are the people that I want to have reappointed; and for the 24 years that I was chief of staff for Council Member Wendell Foster and the 5 years that I have been for Council Member Helen Diane Foster, there's only been one criteria to reappoint somebod: that was to look at the attendance list. Now if your missing more than three meetings, if you're starting to miss four meeting a year, then it is not a good idea to reappoint you because you're not showing up; and that's the only criteria we have ever used to not reappoint somebody. And that's always been a consensus with the borough president's office because the borough president is always whoever it may have been from Simon onwards has always held the opinion if you don't show up, no you shouldn't be reappointed. So that's our only criteria to not reappoint you. So everyone that was up for reappointment, we recommended that they be reappointed. As of this date, Council Member Foster has not received any written correspondence of who was reappointed, if our recommendations for reappointment were reappointed; so I can't give you any news to that. So maybe the post office is not working well.

Ms. Mangual: You know, Rev. Fairbanks, that's unfair for you to do that. You know that's very unfair and that's not professional. And if you have a concern, then your councilperson, Diane Foster, is the one to speak to the borough president. You're out of line. I'm sorry. The borough president is the one.

Mr. Shipp: Hold it. Hold it. Hold it. Recognize.

Ms. Mangual: I'm sorry. You're (Fairbanks) not here to give the report of the borough president.

Mr. Shipp: You (Mangual) have to recognize the chair now. That's not fair.

Ms. Mangual: I'm sorry.

Mr. Shipp: You have to recognize the chair. OK.

Ms. Mangual: You (Fairbanks) are totally out of line.

Mr. Shipp: No, wait. Let him make his report. He has a right to make his report.

Ms. Mangual: Not the borough president's report.

Rev. Fairbanks: Well, I don't know. I am reminded of a story: When Saul sent word that David was to be killed, he said, "What did I do now? I just asked a question."

Ms. Mangual: You should stick to your report not this type of report. If you have a problem, then you bring it to the borough president.

Rev. Fairbanks: I do not mean to be disrespectful to anybody

Ms. Mangual: Yes you have.

Rev. Fairbanks: But the issue of reappointment was brought up tonight. So it is very important.

Ms. Mangual: It wasn't brought up to you. It was brought up to the borough president's office, and I gave an answer. And it is unfair of you to stand there and give such a report. If you have a problem then you ask Ms. Diane Foster to call the borough president. She's the councilperson and she should call the borough president.

Unknown: You can't dictate what he can say.

Rev. Fairbanks: Well, I can give whatever report I feel is important. I don't mean to be disrespectful to anyone.

Ms. Mangual: But you have been. I find that you have been, and I take offense at that.

Rev. Fairbanks: I am just stating that we have not gotten a letter as to who has been reappointed and not reappointed.

Ms. Mangual: Then you should call the borough president's office. Not here. You should voice that through the borough president's office and not here in a public forum. And as a professional for 30 something years, you know that that's the way to go.

Rev. Fairbanks: Well, I did not know until tonight that there is news as to who has been reappointed or not been reappointed, and I'm just saying that we have no letter indicating to us.

Ms. Mangual: Then you speak to the borough president. You call the borough president.

Rev. Fairbanks: That's exactly my point. The city charter is not democratizing this issue. It's just between the borough president and council member.

Ms. Mangual: People voted out the city charter not you.

Rev. Fairbanks: So when I hear I'm sorry, but I was a resident in the South Bronx in 1977 and voted.

Ms. Mangual: I voted for the city charter and so did you. We made the decision and not you.

Rev. Fairbanks: I don't think this is helpful, and I don't mean any disrespect to you. I'm just saying it's a matter of the borough president and the council member, and the council member has not heard anything in response to her letter as to her recommendations for reappointment.

Mr. Mojica: You (Fairbanks) made the point. You made the point.

Rev. Fairbanks: And since I am offending somebody, I guess I'll sit down.

Ms. Mangual: Maybe you should.

Rev. Fairbanks: I'm not sure why I was personally attacked on the floor as I was making my report, but I apologize.

Ms. Mangual: You are attacking the borough president. I am not going to sit here and hear people bashing the borough president unnecessarily. You know the avenue and that's the way you should go. Call the borough president and ask.

Rev. Fairbanks: I did not make an attack on the borough president. Thank you.

Unknown: The borough president has to respect the members of this community.

Mr. Shipp: All right, we are going on to the next. Any other elected officials representatives here tonight? No? Dr. Birkett.