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.”


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