Thursday, November 16, 2006

"New York City Baseball Stadiums & the Law, Part II" WSJ Law Blog 11/16/6

New York City Baseball Stadiums & the Law, Part II

Posted by Peter Lattman

This is the second time this week the Law Blog has jurisdiction over a New York City professional baseball stadium. On Tuesday we discussed the tragedy of the New York Mets jettisoning its Shea Stadium — named for legal giant William Shea — in favor of a soon-to-be-built Citi Field, named after a really big bank.

The Yankees have broken ground on a new stadium, too, expected to open in 2009. (The Bombers — big sigh of relief — are keeping the “Yankee Stadium” name.) But environmental groups have opposed the project because it will eliminate most of two parks and require hundreds of millions in public subsidies. After a three-month legal fight in which the plaintiffs filed a flurry of temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunction requests before four different judges in both state and federal court, it looks like the quest to keep the Yanks in the House That Ruth Built has ended.

Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of U.S. District Court in Manhattan yesterday dismissed the lawsuit. Her 57-page opinion basically affirmed the decision of the National Parks Service to allow for the conversion of parkland into a stadium. The opinion’s on the dry side, but at an October court hearing Judge Buchwald spiced things up she dismissed a suggested remedy by the plaintiffs that the Yanks could play at Shea:

And if you are a Mets fan you would know because I obviously am a Mets fan. You would know that on a big game day you are not parking in that parking lot, they are shipping you out to the old World’s Fairgrounds and either you are walking three quarters of a mile or you are taking a bus.

Representing the Yankees: Jonathan Schiller of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, which has long represented the Bombers. Indeed, the Yanks were Boies Schiller’s very first client when the six-lawyer firm formed in 1997 (it now has 236 attorneys). “It’s a great day for baseball,” said the 6-foot-5 Schiller, a former Columbia University basketball star who played on the Lions last Ivy League championship team in 1967-68 with ex-NBAers Jim McMillan and Dave Newmark.

The Law Blog also spoke to the lead plaintiffs’ lawyer, Jeffrey Baker at Young/Sommer in Albany, N.Y. “We’re disappointed and haven’t made any decisions on whether we will appeal,” he said. “We’re reviewing the opinion and are talking to our clients.”

We asked Baker if is he’s a Yankees fan. His terse response: “I was.”


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