Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Judge pressures Yankees to show stadium documents" 4/22/9 NY Newsday

Judge pressures Yankees to show stadium documents

By MICHAEL GORMLEY | Associated Press Writer
April 22, 2009
ALBANY, N.Y. - A New York judge is ordering the Yankees to give him a catalog of financial records sought by state lawmakers investigating the use of public funds to help build the team's new stadium, or prove the data should remain private.

Two Assembly committees subpoenaed the records in January in the escalating fight with the team, but the Yankees withheld some key documents involving ticket prices and why some city officials received luxury box tickets.

The Yankees will seek to continue to deny those records to the Assembly members, the team's attorney, Jonathan D. Schiller, said Wednesday

Schiller said the deal to attract private purchases of bonds to build the stadium has been thoroughly reviewed by governments and their agencies, including the state Legislature. He said further release of records to Assemblyman Richard Brodsky is unnecessary and a waste of money when the state government and Brodsky should be dealing with a fiscal crisis.

Schiller contends Brodsky was denied much of what he sought from the judge, including a request to produce all the documents and to find the club in a contempt of court and ordered to pay costs of the proceeding if the team doesn't comply. Schiller noted those were among the requests struck out by the judge's order.

"Brodsky is grandstanding and using Yankee Stadium to get himself in headlines," Schiller said.

State Supreme Court Justice John Egan Jr. says the Yankees must produce "a catalog of all documents and materials" sought in the subpoena within a week unless he's persuaded they shouldn't be released. After his review, the judge could order the documents turned over to the Westchester assemblyman and James Brennan of Brooklyn.

"In the end, people will wonder why they can't afford to go to a stadium that their tax dollars built," Brodsky said.

His affidavit to the judge stated the total public subsidy to the Yankees is approaching $4 billion, when schools, hospitals and mass transit lack enough funding. He also claims that few jobs will be created by the public subsidy, ticket prices will still be "well beyond the reach of average taxpayers," and the club participated in an illegal manipulation of property tax assessments.

Brodsky and Brennan also seek data on luxury box tickets given to elected city officials involved in the public funding deal.

Brodsky said forcing the issue into court, where the Yankees could be held in contempt of court, is a "sad necessity."

"We've been patient," Brodsky said. "This has been going on for well over six months."


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