Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"New York Taxpayers Got Little for Yankees Subsides" Bloomberg 9/16/8

New York Taxpayers Got Little for Yankees Subsides (Update1)
By Aaron Kuriloff

Sept. 16 (Bloomberg) -- New York taxpayers spent hundreds of millions of dollars subsidizing the Yankees' new stadium and received little in return, according to a report by state Assemblyman Richard Brodsky.

Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat who is chairman of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Commissions and Authorities, said the public contributed between $550 million and $850 million to a stadium many can't afford to visit and one that that will create just 15 new jobs.

The Yankees have said they are paying for the $1.3 billion stadium, being built across the street from the current venue.

"This stadium is being built by the people of the city and state of New York,'' Brodsky said in a news conference outside the new stadium's construction site. "In return, they're getting almost nothing.''

Seth Pinsky, president of the city's Economic Development Council, said in a telephone interview that the new stadium represents more than $1 billion in private economic development in the Bronx. A cost-benefit analysis showed a net gain for the city of about $40 million, and residents were receiving other benefits such as a new rail station and new parks, he said.

"It's a big net positive for the city,'' he said.

Yankees spokeswoman Alice McGillion also disputed the report in an e-mailed statement. She said Brodsky ignored evidence that the stadium had spawned economic development in the neighborhood and created 1,000 new jobs, while awarding hundreds of millions of dollars to contractors in the city and state.

About one-third of the tickets in the new stadium will cost $25 or less, with about 80 percent priced at $100 or less, McGillion said.

"It is disappointing that Assemblyman Brodsky, for personal aggrandizement, is attempting to insert himself into the final week at Yankee Stadium,'' she said.

Final Game

The Major League Baseball team is scheduled to play its final regular-season game in 85-year-old Yankee Stadium on Sept. 21. Tickets in the new stadium cost as much as $2,500 each, compared with a maximum of $1,000 this year.

Brodsky said documents he examined showed that the city sent the U.S. Internal Revenue service an assessment that valued the stadium land at more than $200 million, to meet federal requirements for issuing tax-exempt bonds. The assessment compared the land in the Bronx with parcels in Manhattan, the report said.

At the same time, the city sent the state and national park services an assessment showing the land valued 10 times lower, minimizing the cost of replacing parkland lost to construction, the report said.

"This deal does not serve the public interest,'' Brodsky said. "It serves the Yankees' interests.''

Public Debt

Brodsky's report also faults the city for creating hundreds of millions of dollars in public debt and failing to protect taxpayers from ticket-price increases in a stadium they helped build.

"The people who are paying for this building can't afford to go to games here,'' he said.

City officials also failed to disclose their purchase of a luxury box in the new stadium, Brodsky said, an acquisition that he described as "at best, unwise.''

Brodsky called for an independent review of the public and private entities involved in the stadium project and said he would deliver the report to the U.S. Congress on Sept. 18.

"This is the house that we built, not that the Yankees built,'' he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aaron Kuriloff in New York at akuriloff@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: September 16, 2008 19:51 EDT


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