"Yankees & Mets Want Their Cut$" The Post 3/24/8
YANKEES & METS WANT THEIR CUT$
MAKE SECRET PITCH TO CITY FOR STADIUM SCRAP SELL-OFFS
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 Lelands.com, 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 yankeestadiumseats.com.
"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."