Friday, November 07, 2008

"$11M Ballpark Figure" NY Post 11/7/8



The Yankees have agreed to fork over $11 million to the city in back rent - money the team probably would have preferred to spend on an ace starting pitcher for next season.

The team underpaid the city the equivalent of Mike Mussina's salary between 2003 and 2006, according to an audit by City Comptroller William Thompson.

Under the team's rental agreement, the Yankees pay the city a percentage of all revenue from tickets, parking and cable television, officials said.

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During that three-year period, the team took in more than $1 billion and paid the city $17 million.

But according to the audit, the Yankees improperly deducted costs above and beyond the $5 million permitted for planning for the new stadium.

More than $9 million was improperly deducted for stadium planning in 2006.

The team also low-balled its gross revenue during the three years, costing the city another $2 million, the audit states.

The Yankees have already paid $7.3 million plus $635,132 in interest, team officials said.

The remaining sum of $4 million plus interest will be paid on March 10, 2009 - prior to the start of next season.

"The Yankees have cooperated fully, and we have come to an understanding with the comptroller," team spokesman Howard Rubenstein said.

"We have paid the majority of the money already, and we will pay it all with interest," he said.

The audit also found $1,021,157 in duplicate payments related to the planning of the new stadium, and $626,015 in planning costs that were improperly deducted. These included bonuses for the stadium's developer and travel expenses.

The city's current rental agreement with the Bombers, which expires at the end of this year, gives the Yanks the right to sell tickets and provide food, parking and souvenirs, as well as revenue from 19 luxury suites and 15 "Hall-of-Fame" suites.

The agreement for the new stadium will go into effect early next year.

The city and the team have come under fire for the terms of the deal for the new stadium, which enabled the Yankees to obtain $942 million in tax-exempt bonds.

These bonds will save the team $181 million in borrowing costs down the line.

The Yankees have asked for an additional $366 million in these tax-exempt bonds to complete the stadium.

The team played its final game at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 21, but will hold a closing ceremony tomorrow in which players and a group of students will bring home plate to the new ballpark across the street.


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