Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Group's study blasts city for park construction lags" NY Daily News 5/19/9

Group's study blasts city for park construction lags
Tuesday, May 19th 2009, 4:00 AM

While the Yankees scoop teaspoonfuls of dirt from their old stadium to sell for upwards of $80 each, the community that lost its parks to the new stadium are still waiting for a ballfield of their own.

With the demolition of the House that Ruth Built expected to take nearly a year and a half, it will be late 2010 before work can even begin on Heritage Field, the park to replace most of the ballfields swallowed up three years ago to make way for the $1.5 billion new Yankee Stadium.

None of the replacement parks have yet been completed, despite city promises most would be done by now.

A new report from NYC Park Advocates blasts the city as putting the interests of the wealthiest team in sports before the needs of one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country.

"This administration did everything possible to service the Yankees, including ignoring the law and treating the community's replacement parks as an afterthought," said Geoff Croft, head of NYC Park Advocates.

The Parks Department countered that the replacement parks are being built as quickly as laws and regulations allow.
Most of the replacement parkland is being built atop new parking garages still not completed.

New Macombs Dam Park, being built on a garage still under construction, was supposed to be finished before Opening Day, according to the stadium project's Final Environmental Impact Study. It now will not be completed until next year.

Even parks that didn't have to wait for garages to be built or a stadium to be torn down are years behind schedule.

In May 2008, Community Board 4 was told construction would begin that June on two small replacement parks across River Ave. from the old stadium, and would be complete by this spring.

But in February, the Parks Department revealed it had found a large fuel tank under one of the park sites - a former gas station. The removal will delay the start of work until the fall.

Croft blames the flawed impact study and cites testimony by Assistant Commissioner Liam Kavanagh at a City Council hearing last June: "The project was not funded or approved, and we didn't have resources to do that kind of in-depth investigation analysis testing that one would do for a fully funded project."Parks responded that the testimony was "referring to Yankee park projects, not specifically to River Ave. parks."


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Bidder Up: Yankees and City Reach Deal to Sell Stadium Memorabilia" NY Times 5/11/9

Bidder Up: Yankees and City Reach Deal to Sell Stadium Memorabilia

Published: May 11, 2009

A brick is a brick is a brick, unless it came from Monument Park at the old Yankee Stadium. That is the pitch the Yankees are going to make to their fans when they start selling off every removable scrap from their old home in the Bronx.

The Yankees said Monday that they would pay New York City $11.5 million for the right to sell the city-owned memorabilia from the stadium, which closed last season. The money will go into the city’s general fund, providing a financial shot in the arm.

“I’m glad the city’s agreement with the Yankees will generate much-needed revenue for the city and offer fans a chance to own some of the famed Yankee Stadium history,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in a release. Yankees-Steiner Collectibles, which markets team memorabilia, will try to recoup that money and then some by removing and then selling seats, bleachers, the foul poles, player lockers and the iconic frieze around the upper deck.

“The closing of the original Yankee Stadium marked the end of an era at an iconic American sports landmark,” said Brandon Steiner, the founder and chief executive of Steiner Sports. “The original Yankee Stadium can now live on in each fan’s household in a very unique way.”

Last August, the city struck a similar deal with the Mets, who sold memorabilia from the now-demolished Shea Stadium. The city received 70 percent of the net revenue from the sales, and the team received the remainder, which it donated to various charities.

So far, the city has received $3.5 million from the sale of Shea Stadium memorabilia. The Mets are still auctioning pieces of Shea.

Bidding for the locker used by Jerry Grote and Howard Johnson is up to $500. A sign that shows Mr. Met telling fans not to smoke cigarettes received at least 10 bids.

The sale of Yankee Stadium memorabilia is likely to generate far more money, given the popularity and history of the team.

For instance, when the Mets sold sets of two seats from Shea Stadium, they charged $869 (and shipping and handling), a number that reflected the two years the team won the World Series. The Yankees are selling pairs of seats for $1,923, a nod to the year the original Yankee Stadium opened.

The list of complaints about the new Yankee Stadium — the obstructed-view seats, the higher ticket prices, the increase in security — may also boost sales.

“There’s particularly a lot of value for the Yankees, especially with what’s happening at the new stadium, which doesn’t have the character or sentiment of the old one,” said Bob Dorfman, who writes The Sports Marketers’ Scouting Report, which analyzes athletic endorsement deals. “You can’t relive the past, but you can own a piece of it.”

Some critics say the Yankees got off cheap and that the city should try to sell the memorabilia itself.

“The carcass of Yankee Stadium is city property and it’s clearly worth more than $11.5 million,” Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky said. “I know no good reason why taxpayers, having built the new stadium, should not benefit more from the sale.”

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

"Yankees in Albany courtroom to fight stadium subpoena" Times Union 5/5/9

Yankees in Albany courtroom to fight stadium subpoena
Assemblyman wants detailed documents about project's cost, ticket prices

By ROBERT GAVIN, Staff writer
Last updated: 1:43 p.m., Tuesday, May 5, 2009

ALBANY -- An Albany judge may decide whether the New York Yankees must release thousands of documents about their new $1.5 billion, taxpayer-subsidized stadium.

Today, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky of Westchester wants to use a subpoena to review documents detailing the construction of the Yankees new home, arguing the team has refused to provide documents he has requested.

But George Carpinello, a lawyer for the Yankees, dismissed Brodsky's request, calling the project the "most transparent project probably in the history of the state of New York or anywhere else." Brodsky told state Supreme Court Justice John Egan that he began reviewing documents about the stadium and the Mets new Citifield a year ago, but said he discovered the Yankees' cost was "markedly different and over twice as much."

Joined by fellow Assemblyman Democrat James Brennan of Brooklyn, Brodsky said he sent letters to the Yankees and made requests into what he said is a project involving $4 billion in public money. He also mentioned the failure of accessible ticket prices and what he called an admitted violation of law in the tax assessment for the stadium grounds, which used to be a city park.

He questioned why Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office received a luxury suite at the stadium and how the city ended up helping the team obtain $1.5 billion in tax-free borrowing.

He said there was a "misstatement of facts by the Yankees" about the amount of jobs the stadium would create and the public benefit of the project.

Carpinello told Egan that Brodsky's subpoena was illegal, noting a law inspired by the McCarthy era that bars chairs of legislative committees from issuing subpoenas for no legislative purpose. He called Brodsky's request a sham.

As for the ticket prices, he said, "God knows he can read the newspaper to find out the price of tickets at a Yankees game."

Egan asked if both sides would be willing to work out a settlement in the jury room. If not, Egan said he would decide the matter.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

"Ballpark figures; From coast to coast, expensive new baseball stadiums stand empty, monuments to an era of corporate wealth now gone" Guardian 5/2/9

This article may interest you. If so, click the title to read it in full. Here's a taste:

"On opening day, clueless commissioner Bud Selig pronounced every seat in (Yankee) stadium "affordable". In the heyday of Wall Street profits and corporate spending, perhaps. Not now. The PR nightmare and the loss of expected revenue has already forced the Yankees to bow to pressure and lower prices. Nevertheless, the stadium is an instant dinosaur, a monument to an era of wealth now wrenchingly gone."