Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Standard Parking Announces Contract Awards for Yankee Stadium, Washington Square Office Complex, Columbus City Center" 3/26/8

...Yankee Stadium Parking Facilities

Standard Parking was awarded a multi-year contract by the Bronx Parking Development Company and the New York City Economic Development Corporation to provide parking management and special-event services at the ten existing parking facilities currently serving Yankee Stadium plus three additional garages to be built by 2010 in conjunction with the construction of the new Yankee Stadium. These facilities, comprising 9,500 parking spaces, primarily serve the New York Yankees major league baseball team and represent the largest block of parking capacity anywhere in the City of New York...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Bronx Awaits Community Benefits From New Yankee Stadium Construction" NY1 3/26/8

Bronx Awaits Community Benefits From New Yankee Stadium Construction

Bronx locals claim that the Yankees have still not given the borough about $1 million of community benefits in return for building a new Yankee Stadium. NY1’s Bronx reporter Dean Meminger filed the following report.

The Yankees still owe the Bronx about $1 million of community benefits in return for building a new Yankee Stadium, according to outraged attendants of Tuesday night’s Community Board 4 meeting, held in the Murray Cohen Auditorium of the Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center.

"This is important to the community and you allow only three questions from the community, that is not fair," said a local resident.

But residents around the stadium say that even though the new Yankee Stadium is well under construction, the community has yet to see any benefits.

The Yankee Stadium community benefits agreement agreed for the Bronx Bombers to give each year $800,000, as well as $100,000 in sports equipment and 15,000 tickets to games – for the next 40 years.

"The community benefits agreement was carved and said that when the shovel went in the ground, when they took over the park,” said Gregory Bell, an advocate for the disabled. “That is when the $800,000 was supposed to start to flow."

The head of the volunteer advisory panel for the benefits agreement attended Tuesday’s meeting to say the money is on the way.

"During April we will have started that process and organizations will start to see that money," said Serafin Mariel of the benefits advisory panel.

"We know that people wonder if we exist - and if we exist what is our function,” said Michael Drezin of the benefits advisory panel. “So the first thing we want people to do is know that we exist. We hear them and we want to be responsive to them."

Some locals are not satisfied with promises for payment that they consider already delayed.

"Mr. Mariel said what they did is that they shifted it, so you still have the 40 years of benefits but it now starts as of the date of the first check. That holds the community hostage," said Bell.

The building of the new Yankee Stadium already created controversy within Community Board 4. Most of the board members who voted against the new Yankee Stadium plan were eventually removed.

"My fear is that the people in need, the community in need the most - like Highbridge - will not get their fair share,” said resident Mary Blassingame. “Maybe a few political favorites may get all the benefits."

The benefits advisory panel said the money will be spread around the Bronx, but there will be special attention given to Community Boards 1 and 4 – the areas that are most impacted by the construction.

- Dean Meminger

"As New Yankee and Met Stadiums Go Up, So Do Costs and Disruption" Village Voice 3/25/8

As New Yankee and Met Stadiums Go Up, So Do Costs and Disruption
by Neil deMause
March 25th, 2008 12:00 AM

When Mets and Yankees fans arrive for the start of the new season, the teams' past and future will be on display side by side—and not just Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana or Andy Pettitte and Joba Chamberlain. At a record-shattering price tag of more than $2.5 billion, twin homes for New York's ball clubs are being readied for their 2009 openings—and in the Bronx in particular, the repercussions are affecting not just the city treasury but the local neighborhood.

At the time of the two teams' ignominious exits last fall, the new stadiums were still little more than skeletons. Since then, decorative arches—granite for the new Yankee Stadium, brick for the Mets' Citi Field—have mostly taken shape, and the seating bowls are in place. Sharp-eyed fans will note the wide gap between the outer and inner structures: As in most modern stadiums (but not relative oldsters like Shea and Yankee), the façades are mere shells around the actual ballparks within, the better to fill the space in between with concession-y goodness.

The similarities, however, stop at the ballpark walls. The Yankees' project has gotten more attention not just because it's displacing more hallowed ground—the biggest controversy for Mets fans has been whether the team will preserve Shea's 1980s-vintage plaster home-run apple—but because it's far vaster in scale. Where Citi Field is going up in a parking lot, the new Yankee Stadium is being erected in the former Macombs Dam and Mullaly parks and, with its accompanying garages, is already transforming its South Bronx environs. It's one reason why the Yanks' costs are so much higher: nearly $1.9 billion, compared to the Mets' comparatively thrifty $850 million. Of that, taxpayers are covering almost half, mostly via tax rebates and other goodies; the latest estimates for total public subsidies, according to figures compiled by the Voice, are $833 million for the Yankees, $449 million for the Mets.

Hidden costs like tax-exempt bonds are to blame for much of the subsidy bloat, but the soaring costs afflicting all city construction come into play here, too. When Mayor Bloomberg first announced the Yankees plan in June 2005, he projected that it would cost $135 million just to replace the parks being demolished for the new stadium (as well as to raze the old stadium and move a water main). By last year, that figure had risen to $195 million, thanks to what the city called "contingency funding," and apparently those contingencies weren't enough: Last week, the city's Economic Development Corporation reported its current projections had reached $190 million for the parks alone, plus another $52 million for "infrastructure."

The signs of all that money being spent are everywhere around the intersection of 161st Street and River Avenue as opening day nears. To the north, in the former Macombs Dam Park, cranes lift into place the final pieces of the new stadium—slightly shorter than the old, but much broader, a salad bowl rather than a tureen. To the southwest, what was until recently a set of ballfields adjacent to the team parking lot is now a sea of earth movers, prepping the land for one of three new parking garages. The decorative frieze—the bit of scrim that architecturally challenged sportswriters usually call the "façade"—is mostly in place atop the stadium's rim, while giant baseballs have been engraved into the underpass beneath the Macombs Dam Bridge approach.

What you won't see are a lot of public parks being built. The largest of the planned replacements, dubbed "Heritage Field," won't be ready for another three years—the current stadium must be torn down first to make way for it. Another, with a track to replace the one now buried beneath the Yankees' infield, has had its opening pushed back to 2011 as well, according to the EDC. Some work has begun on new tennis courts along the Harlem River (about half a mile and one highway overpass away from the old ones), but there's no sign of activity on the vest-pocket kiddie and skate parks promised for the corner of 157th Street and River Avenue. The new Metro-North station to serve the stadium, by contrast, is already taking shape, and scheduled to open next spring.

For local residents already faced with a construction site larger than Ground Zero on their doorstep, the slow pace of the new parks adds insult to injury. Geneva Hester's apartment in an Art Deco building on Jerome Avenue once looked out on a leafy treescape; now she sees a wall that rises straight up only a few feet back from the curb line. Next to it, a garage is going up that will provide free valet parking for the Yanks and 600 of their special guests; workers recently began driving support beams for it, restoring the familiar "PING! PING!" that was the neighborhood's background noise for much of last year. "They work Saturdays, so you don't really get any rest," says Hester. "Even if you close the door, you hear it."

To get her daily exercise, Hester and her neighbors must now rely on a small temporary park below a bridge ramp. To reach the 161st Street shopping strip, meanwhile, requires running a gauntlet of construction fencing and heavy machinery, plus the tangle of traffic that's resulted from multiple street closures. During the rebuild of the original stadium in the mid-'70s, Hester recalls, streets and parks were likewise torn up for two years. How does the current construction compare? "There is no comparison, please. Nothing like this. This is terrible."

One other new revelation from the EDC: The House That Ruth Built is scheduled for demolition in the spring and summer of 2009—in full view of fans filing past en route to the new digs. This promises the kind of drawn-out scene that faced Chicago in 1991, where White Sox fans could watch Comiskey Park's death throes unfolding across the street. (The morbidly curious can visit for a slideshow of the carnage in action.)

"It took quite a while to knock Comiskey down," recalls John Aranza, a lifelong Sox fan who sneaked into the old ballpark "maybe a dozen times" during demolition. "I couldn't believe it when that wrecking ball hit. You realize that nothing's sacred. It'll hurt—I'm telling you, it'll hurt."

Monday, March 24, 2008

"Yankees & Mets Want Their Cut$" The Post 3/24/8


By JeremyOlshan

March 24, 2008 -- The Yankees and Mets are in secret talks with the city to buy their old ballparks before the wrecking balls hit - so they can plunder them for lucrative memorabilia to peddle to fans, The Post has learned.

A spokesman for Mayor Bloomberg confirmed the negotiations but would not say how the deals might go down - specifically, whether the city would hope to get a lump sum from the teams or a percentage of the profits of any sale or auction of items.

"At other stadiums, everything from the scoreboards to the dugout urinals have been snatched up by fans, but Yankee Stadium is in a whole other league of collectibles," said Mike Heffner, president of, which has handled several stadium garage sales.

"Each brick could sell for $100 to $300," Heffner said. "I doubt we'd have any trouble selling every seat in the house for as much as $1,000.

"With its huge fan base, Shea Stadium will also fetch a big payday."

Yankee sources and a Mets spokesman separately confirmed the teams' negotiations with the city but refused to give details, citing their ongoing talks.

While the city owns the two stadiums, experts said the teams are in a far better position to bring in bigger bucks from a sell-off because of the emotion factor.

A tiny baggy of infield dirt from Yankee Stadium could fetch $25, experts said.

Each of the 55,000 bright orange seats at Shea could sell for as much as $500 - a drop in the bucket for the same fans willing to pay $12 for a cup of lukewarm beer at the game.

Having the city take a percentage of the sales rather than a lump sum for the stadiums may make more sense, sports auctioneers said, because turning memories into memorabilia is not a precise process.

"There is no scientific formula to predict how much Yankees fans might be willing to pay for signs, gates, padding from the outfield wall or program stands," said Heffner, whose company handled the $900,000 auction of memorabilia from Busch Stadium in St. Louis in 2005.

If Albert Pujols' locker sold for $20,000, how much would Derek Jeter's go for? Home plate and the pitcher's rubber from the Busch bullpen sold for $14,000 - a fraction of what Yankee or Met fans might pay, Heffner said.

But fans should be warned not to think of these purchases as investments with an immediate payoff, said Richie Aurigemma, owner of

"With more than 100,000 seats for sale at the two parks, it will take quite some time for them to appreciate," he said. "But that said, the teams will have no trouble selling every blade of grass, every grain of dirt, everything that isn't bolted down, and everything that is."

Things were different in the past.

When Harry Avirom demolished Ebbets Field in 1960, he invited fans to come and take a seat for free. Today, a brick from Ebbets Field sells for $1,000 and a seat for as much as $5,000.

When the New York Giants lost their final game at the Polo Grounds, fans started to loot, loot, loot from their home team - tearing the entire ballpark to pieces, grabbing up dirt, grass and all the bases.

And not all baseball fans are keen on the idea of forking over wads of cash for pieces of plastic, wood and rubber.

Writer Pete Hamill, who is still mourning the loss of his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers, said the business of sports collectibles is just one of many things wrong with the modern game.

"We learned back in 1957 that it's a business, not a secular religion," he said.

As for the chance of owning a piece of Yankee Stadium, he said, "No. For me, that would be like collecting relics of the Inquisition."

"Costs for park at old Yankee Stadium jump 48%" Daily News 3/20/8

Costs for park at old Yankee Stadium jump 48%
Thursday, March 20th 2008, 4:00 AM

The cost of replacing the parkland being destroyed to build the new Yankee Stadium has ballooned to $190 million - 48% more than the city had anticipated, city officials said Wednesday.

"It's a very complicated project," confessed Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe during a City Council hearing. The agency has hit unexpected snags on the environmentally sensitive land that is driving up the costs of construction, he explained yesterday.

The new $800 million stadium for the Bronx Bombers is being developed on 13 acres of parkland along 161st St., across the street from the 85-year-old House that Ruth Built.

To remedy the lost green space, the city vowed to spend $128 million to create 28 acres of new park and recreation space in the area, including turning the old stadium into a ballpark for kids called "Heritage Field."

"A lot of the site conditions were a lot more challenging than we knew at the time we made those estimates," said Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh.

In one waterfront spot, for instance, park officials unearthed an underground oil tank that had to be drained and removed, Benepe said.

The updated $190 million price tag shouldn't force the city to scale back plans, officials said, noting that one of the smaller ballfields at Public School 29 is opening next month and the West Bronx Center will be ready for games in June.

But environmental advocate Geoffrey Croft protested the city taking the land in the first place.

Friday, March 21, 2008

"Replacement Parks For New Yankee Stadium Come At Greater Cost" NY1 3/20/8

Replacement Parks For New Yankee Stadium Come At Greater Cost

March 20, 2008

New York City Parks Department officials said Thursday that the cost of replacing Bronx parks around the new Yankee Stadium will cost about $62 million more than originally anticipated. NY1’s Bronx reporter Dean Meminger filed the following report.

The park on the side of the old Yankee Stadium, which had softball fields, handball and basketball courts, have been bulldozed to make way for a parking garage for the new Yankee Stadium.

Construction for the new stadium also sits on what used to be several athletic fields. The parks department says all of the parkland will be replaced, but sources say it will cost about $190 million – an increase of $62 million from the original estimate.

"The estimates were made about two years ago, and as is probably pretty well-known, construction costs have sky rocketed," said Liam Kavanagh of the Parks Department.

Also, an underground oil tank was found and had to be drained at the new site for replacement tennis courts, at additional costs. Park advocate Geoffrey Croft says the city should have known about the tank.

"The city did not do a proper environmental assessment of this project,” said Croft. “They rushed it through. And these are the types of problems that are very foreseen."

The area's city council member, Democrat Helen Foster, gave the green light to allow the Yankees to build on top of MacCombs Dam Park, but she is concerned the city might not be able to follow through on promises.

"This stadium across the street will be opened in 2009, but we won't get replacement parking until 2011,” said Foster. “I have always been concerned because we have put the cart before the horse in building this stadium - meaning that we have said the Yankee organization is a priority and not the community."

The Parks Department claims to have finished plenty of replacement park land, and will build a track field on top of one of the parking garages. A huge field is going to replace the old stadium once it is torn down.

- Dean Meminger