Friday, December 10, 2010

"Yankee Stadium Parking Becoming Even Bigger Debacle" TSTC 12/9/10


Except, no.

Monday, November 01, 2010

"Firm plans to yank up parking prices at New York Yankees Stadium in hope of closing gap" Daily News 10/29/10

The owner of the financially troubled Yankee Stadium parking system plans to hike game-day rates by as much as 50% next year in a last-ditch effort to avert defaulting on millions in tax-exempt bonds.

Stadium self-parking prices will zoom from the current $23 to $35, while valet prices will go from $36 to $45. That's according to financial documents filed last month by garage owner Bronx Parking Development.

Even at those rates, the garages will still fall into a technical default unless two-thirds of bondholders agree to waive some requirements in the original construction bonds.

Bronx Parking barely managed to make a $6.8 million bond payment that was due Oct. 1 and will likely not have enough cash to make its next $6.8 million due in April. Without the waiver, the company warned, it will be forced to charge a minimum of $55 per car next year to avoid a default.

"The truth of the matter is, the whole thing's a mess," said one financial adviser to several bondholders. "If the city doesn't step in, there's no way Bronx Parking can pay back the money it took to build those garages."

The firm, which is independent of the Yankees, is a three-year-old subsidiary of a little-known Hudson County nonprofit, Community Initiatives Development Corp.

The city Economic Development Corp. selected Bronx Parking to build and run the parking system. In addition to getting the right to raise $237 million with tax-free bonds, the firm received $100 million from the city and state for the project. This generosity despite the fact that its parent firm had defaulted on two previous tax-exempt industrial development bonds in upstate New York.

Its chief executive, William Loewenstein, did not respond to a request for comment.

Somehow, Mayor Bloomberg's economic experts never envisioned when they arranged the new Yankee Stadium deal that so many fans would shun the new overpriced garages. More fans are taking the subway or Metro-North to the games or parking at the much cheaper Gateway Shopping Mall several blocks south of the stadium than anyone predicted.

The new rates will only accelerate that flight.

Remember, the Yankees reached the playoffs this year, yet only about 60% of the parking system was filled on an average day.

Things didn't even improve when the Boston Red Sox were in town. On Saturday, Aug. 7, for example, a capacity crowd was on hand to see the Sox, but only 5,600 paid for parking, according to a day-by-day revenue report the company filed.

Bronx Parking has already failed to pay more than $10 million in back rent and interest to the city for the garage system, which sits on city-owned land.

The bondholders have asked for more time to review the company's plans to avoid a total collapse.

But anyone who looks at the numbers will realize that this could be one of the most embarrassing defaults of a tax-exempt bond in decades for New York City.

For several weeks now, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has been urging City Hall to restructure the entire garage project and possibly arrange a sale of some of the sites for other development projects near Yankee Stadium.

"We don't need a wasteland of empty garages in this borough," said one Bronx official.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Yankee Stadium parking stalls out after developer shows signs that it may default on bonds" Daily News 9/10/11


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

"City celebrates opening of River Ave. pocket parks" River Avenue Blues 9/5/10

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Activsts Say Yankees Not Living Up to Their End of Agreement; Lawsuit May Follow" Bronx News Network 7/21/10

(Click the title above to read with hyperlinks, or below without)

Activsts Say Yankees Not Living Up to Their End of Agreement; Lawsuit May Follow

“We are here because there is a disconnect between the world we live in of the South Bronx and the world of justice and equality,” said Lydia Lebron (see video above), pastor of the Resurrection United Methodist Church in the South Bronx, at a rally outside of Yankee Stadium last week.

Representatives from the For the South Bronx Coalition (4DSBXCoalition), the Urban Justice Center, and the Freedom Party joined Lebron in demanding data from the Yankees baseball club that accounts for commitments the club made in signing a Community Benefits Agreement in 2006. The activists presented their demands to Yankees President Randy Levine in a seven-page letter. (BxNN friend and stadium expert Neil deMause wrote about this last week for the Village Voice's blog.)

The Community Benefits Agreement, signed by Levine, former Borough President Adolfo Carrion, and Council members Maria Baez (who is no longer in office), Joel Rivera and Maria Del Carmen Arroyo in April 2006, said the Yankees would give 25% of stadium construction contracts to Bronx businesses, make sure 25% of construction jobs went to Bronxites, and award 25% of post-construction jobs to Bronxites.

As part of the agreement, the Yankees also created a Community Benefits Fund, controlled by a volunteer board, that would give out $800,000 a year in grants to local community groups, $100,000 a year in equipment and merchandise, and 15,000 free game tickets.While some of these grants, merchandise and tickets have been distributed, activists at the rally said much of it remains unaccounted for.

“The purpose of the money is to offset the cost of the stadium and the traffic and pollution surrounding it,” said Harvey Epstein, director of the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center. Epstein, along with the coalition, is interested in seeing the designated money go to “local social services, local parks, local food pantries, and other local community centers.”

The Yankees did not immediately return calls and e-mails seeking comment and the Benefits Fund could not be reached by publication of this article.

According to the various groups in attendance, the team’s progress thus far has been dubious. “Not enough was done to ensure that they lived up to those promises,” said Robert Carrillo (pictured, speaking), Chair of the 4DSBxCoalition. “We need to get the data.”

Daniela Perez, who is on the Board of the 4DSBxCoalition, called past attempts to communicate with the Yankees “unsuccessful.” “We’ve been at this for a year. The South Bronx Coalition began to attack this issue that no one was looking at,” she said. “We’ve already sent several letters, there’s been no response. [In past demonstrations in front of the stadium] no one comes to see us, no one comes out.”

For Perez and others awaiting answers, the rally last week was the final straw. “Today is like, ‘Okay. This is it,’” Perez said.

Representatives of the coalition and the Urban Justice Center plan to file a lawsuit if the Yankees do not provide the data requested in their seven-page letter within 30 days.

Ramon Jimenez, one of the original founders of the Coalition, predicts that the action will indeed, “result in a lawsuit.”

“The Yankees are totally uncooperative," he said in an interview. "They are unwilling to sit at the table. They are unwilling to provide info.”

Later, when he addressed the crowd, Jimenez questioned the corporation’s motives. “If the Yankees weren’t lying, they would give us information,” he said.

Although the Yanks haven’t coughed up any answers yet, Epstein is confident that the data will come. “We are taking whatever necessary steps available,” he said after his demonstration. “In the end, it will be successful. It’s just a question of how long it takes.”

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"NYC unveils new park plans for old Yankees Stadium" ABC 6/29/10


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Parks near Yankee Stadium set to open, but critics say city is still shortchanging residents" Daily News 6/22/10

Everything discussed in the article is correct, except that the meeting is on TUESDAY, not Monday! That means this evening!

The article:

Things are finally on schedule.

That's the message that city Parks Department officials are expected to deliver Monday night at their quarterly update on the redevelopment of parkland around the new Yankee Stadium.

After years of delays and red tape, the city has opened several new parks around the Stadium, and says it has a firm sense of when it will complete the much anticipated Heritage Field.

Critics still charge that the city is shortchanging local residents, who saw the destruction of some 25 acres of parkland around Yankee Stadium when the Bombers built their new home.

Only about 22 acres are being redeveloped in the area directly around the Stadium, said Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates, a Parks Department watchdog group.

Department regulations require Parks to replace every acre of parkland that was destroyed when building the new Yankee Stadium.

Croft said the city is coming up at least 3 acres short in its current plans. City officials insist they are redeveloping not 22 - but more than 32 - acres around the Stadium. Croft calls this a "fabrication."

"It's a dog and pony show, and they basically shrug their shoulders and act like everything is okay," Croft said of the quarterly updates. "The thing is a mess. It's just a mess."

At Monday night's meeting, officials are expected to announce that the River Ave. skate park is completed, and set for a formal ribbon-cutting that will take place this month.

The River Ave. playground is expected to be completed by the end of June.

The city Economic Development Corporation, which is overseeing most of the redevelopment, will announce that Heritage Field - on the site of the now demolished House That Ruth Built - is expected to be completed by the fall of 2011. It will include three new baseball fields.

Last week, earthmovers and other construction vehicles were already being used there.

Monday night's meeting will take place at the Bronx district attorney's office, 198 E. 161st St., third floor, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The meeting is open to the public, and a question and answer session will follow the presentation.

Sentiment among area residents polled recently concerning the efforts at parkland redevelopment was mixed.

"They took away a lot," said Joseph Texeira, 39, of Jerome Ave. as he walked his dog through Macombs Dam Park. "The old jogging field was much better. The new one is all artificial turf and it feels fake. There's no trees. It's just not natural."

Michael Smith, 35, of 149th St., disagreed as he wrapped up a run around the new track, Joseph Yancy Track and Field, while a number of others jogged around it on a recent morning.

The facility also includes four basketball courts, eight handball courts and fitness equipment.

"This is beautiful," said Smith. "It's just beautiful. When I called my mother and told her about this, she was shocked because she remembered what the Bronx used to be like.

"I mean, this is a full-fledged field. They may have taken some away when they built the new stadium, but look at what they gave back."

"I'm not happy," said 10-year-old Jason Miller, as he played with friends in John Mullaly Park.

"They took our park away and the new one isn't finished yet. I've been coming here all my life and I didn't see why the Yankees needed a new stadium. The old one was fine."

The redevelopment project has been fraught with delays and controversy.

The skate park was originally set to open in 2007 and Joseph Yancy Track and Field, which opened in April, was initially scheduled for completion in 2009.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"New York Yankees' garage system owes city $8.7 million, two years behind on rent" Daily News 6/16/10

With larger revenues than projected, Bronx Parking's costs are outstripping income. Operating costs of FIVE MILLION DOLLARS? To run a self-parking garage, and don't valets mostly make tips?!

This is a sleazy sleazy deal for the city. Thanks Bloomberg!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Old Yankee Stadium is Going, Going, Soon-to-be Gone" NBC New York 4/9/10

And yet the old stadium still stands.

"A Park With a Different Sort of Opening Day" NY Times 4/9/10

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The new Yankee Stadium is built, but where are the promised ballfields for kids?¨ Daily News 2/17/10

The new Yankee Stadium is built, but where are the promised ballfields for kids?
Juan Gonzalez - News

Wednesday, February 17th 2010, 4:00 AM
One of the big questions Yankees manager Joe Girardi must decide before the end of spring training in Tampa Bay is whether Curtis Granderson or Brett Gardner will be the team's new centerfielder on Opening Day.

But in the snow-draped streets around Yankee Stadium Tuesday, South Bronx residents had a more pressing question: where are the ballfields for their kids?

Three and a half years after Mayor Bloomberg closed huge portions of Mullaly and Macombs Dam parks to make way for the Yankees new $1.5 billion stadium, the replacement ballfields the city promised are nowhere to be seen.

It has been nearly 18 months since the last game was played in the old stadium. Yet its concrete hulk still looms like a gray ghost across the street from the Yankees new palace.

Shea Stadium, in case anyone has forgotten, came tumbling down in fewer than eight months. It was leveled quickly because the Mets needed the land for parking.

But when it comes to the old Yankee Stadium, the demolition crews have taken their sweet time. Until the old stadium is razed, the city can't even begin construction of Heritage Field, a complex of three replacement ballfields for the community.

No one in authority seems to care about this huge delay. Not the bureaucrats in City Hall. Not the Parks Department. Not the Yankees. Not the local politicians.

Back in late 2006, when U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald rejected a challenge to the stadium plan by local residents, she noted that the city was replacing all parkland with new permanent park facilities.

"Nearly all [of those facilities] will be operational by the time the new Yankee Stadium opens in 2009," the judge said in her decision, "and the remaining three ballparks to be located on the existing Yankee Stadium fields will become accessible by 2010."

This was all a lie.

Virtually all of the replacement facilities are way behind schedule and dramatically over budget. A track and soccer field did open last spring on top of one of the Yankees parking garages, but not the basketball and handball courts that were supposed to accompany it.

Portions of a new park and outdoor tennis courts were inaugurated along the Harlem River in November - just in time for winter. But a huge new tennis clubhouse, cafe and community facility have not been finished. Nor has a toddler park, a skateboarding park, a full esplanade for the public, and a sand beach along the river - all of which were promised.

Many of these will open this spring, David Lombino, a spokesman for the city's Economic Development Corp. said Tuesday.

As for the baseball and little league fields, any work on them will have to wait until the old stadium comes down.

"Demolition should be finished by June," Lombino said, while the new community ballfields "should be ready sometime in late 2011."

If Lombino is right, those baseball fields will finally be replaced more than five years after the original ones were taken away from the youth of the community.

Somehow, Yankee Stadium was built on schedule. So were the huge parking garages around it. So was the new Metro-North station.

Only the replacement parks for the community have suffered these delays. As for the politicians in the Bronx, they must all be waiting for their Yankees tickets.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

"In the Shadow of Yankee Stadium, an Off Year" NY TImes 11/3/9

Area businesses have seen sales declines since the construction of the new stadium. Maybe they should begin catering to the neighborhood residents?

Click the title above to read the article.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

"Why Your Stadium Sucks: Yankee Stadium" Deadspin 10/30/9

Well, the analysis is in folks! (New) Yankee Stadium officially sucks! Click the the title above to read all the many many many ways over at Deadspin.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Yankees Claimed a Park; Children Got Bus Rides" NY Times 10/23/9

Yankees Claimed a Park; Children Got Bus Rides
Published: October 23, 2009

Here are the final days of October. The new Yankee Stadium rocks with thrilling games. The Bronx kids who lost their parks for that new stadium travel the city for places to play.

“The Yankees gave us a bus — actually, they gave us $37,500 for a bus,” said Paul Krebbs, the president of All Hallows High School, just up the block from the stadium. “So now we can travel to Staten Island for our home games.”

Yankee Stadium is a kind of marker of civic values, and the end of the season is a good time to measure how those values have evolved. But it won’t be easy. More than most sports, professional baseball is marinated in the cheap liquor of nostalgia. People get drunk on it and lose their judgment. So this history cannot walk a straight line.

As mayor, one of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s jobs was to serve as landlord for the Yankees. Mr. Giuliani, who made his name as a corruption buster, was able to buy four World Series rings from the Yankees for about $16,000 — which might well be less than a fifth of their retail value. Who knows if he has bells on his toes to go with the rings on his fingers, but Mr. Giuliani promised the team a sweet deal on a new ballpark.

Then Michael R. Bloomberg became mayor and canceled the Giuliani arrangements. “Everybody understands that given the lack of housing, given the lack of school space, given the deficit in the operating budget, it is just not practical this year to go and build stadiums,” Mr. Bloomberg said in 2002. “You have to set priorities, and the priorities this year do not allow for the construction of sporting stadiums.”

That moment passed. The Bloomberg administration proceeded to negotiate a new deal — turning over parkland for 40 years with no rent and no taxes, rebuilding streets and roads and a commuter rail station and letting the team use the city’s tax-free bonding capacity.

For a while, Mr. Bloomberg’s aides haggled with the Yankees to get a luxury suite for the city. Now, it should be noted that the luxury suite consisted of 12 seats, so to say that it was for “the city” falls a bit short of being strictly accurate. The suite would have been for someone, but not “the city,” if that in any way means ordinary citizens.

In exchange for the suite, “the city” — meaning, in this case, the public — would allow the team an additional 250 parking spaces and three new billboards.

This deal nearly fell apart when “the city” — well, Mr. Bloomberg’s aides — demanded that the luxury suite also be stocked with free food, like other suites, where the food is free as long as you pay the $600,000 annual rental.

The Yankees gnashed their teeth.

“It’s really ridiculous, but it sticks like a bone in everyone’s craw,” a Yankee negotiator wrote to the city economic development officials. “It’s a little unseemly to require ‘free’ food.”

What this meant, in plain Yiddish, was: Don’t shnorr the small stuff.

The shnorring — begging with chutzpah — took place in e-mail messages that were unearthed by Richard L. Brodsky, a Democratic assemblyman from Westchester. Once they were made public, the Bloomberg administration said it was changing its administrative mind.

It — meaning, presumably, Mr. Bloomberg, who could buy the entire stadium and team out of his pocket — did not really want the 12-seat luxury suite with the chicken wings. Instead, the Yankees should rent the suite on the commercial market, and the city should get the proceeds. Some of them, anyway: $100,000 is all that is guaranteed. The team is allowed to deduct marketing costs after paying that minimum.

It turns out that so far, not a penny in rentals from this season has been turned over for the city’s suite because it is not due until June, a spokesman for the mayor said Friday. So the actual value to the city is not yet known.

THERE are other, higher stakes. The new stadium sits on what had been city parkland that had been used by generations of schools, neighborhood teams and lone athletes.

The lost parks are being replaced by a group of handsome new ones, but that process is now expected to last until the end of 2011. This is no fault of the Department of Parks and Recreation, but the trailing consequence of decisions made by the city — that would be Mr. Bloomberg’s economic development team — to first shut down a public park so a profitable private company could build a stadium, and only then get around to replacing the lost park.

In the meantime, portions of the replacement parks are starting to open; they appear to be the first traces of what will be vibrant spaces, creatively designed.

When they are done, they will be a beautiful sight. But when they are done, the 14-year old kids who lost their parks in 2006 will be 19. That straight line doesn’t bend.


Sunday, October 18, 2009



Prepared by: Lukas Herbert, AICP August 23, 2009

Click the title above to read the full report

Thursday, October 08, 2009

"It's Not a Demolition" Bronx News Network 10/8/9

Click the title above to be taken to the Bronx News Network's rundown of last night's Parks Department briefing on the state of the Yankee Stadium demolition and the replacement parks.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Broken Promises At Yankee Stadium" BronxTalk with Gary Axelbank 8/24/9

This week, BronxTalk featured an expose about the broken promises that were made in the building of the new Yankee Stadium. Two representatives from the 4DSbx coalition spoke with host Gary Axelbank about the stipulations in the Community Benefits Agreement that have not been followed. There was also a presentation about how the original plans for parking garages have not been followed.

Click the title above to watch the segment over at Bronx News Network.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Macombs Park Turf Too Hot For Them To Handle! Critics Thermometer Hits 150 Degrees" NY Daily News 8/8/9

Click the title above to read the article at the Daily News site. It includes an admission by Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe that this is a problem, which is a switch from downplaying the issue which seems to have been Parks policy up to this point.

"Yankee Stadium Death Watch: Day 331" Village Voice 8/17/9

Yankee Stadium Death Watch: Day 331
By Neil deMause in Baseball, Bricks and Mortar, Featured, Politics, Stadium DevelopmentMonday, Aug. 17 2009 @ 1:34PM

​As anyone who's been to a game at Fake Yankee Stadium lately can attest, the old home of the Bronx Bombers across the street remains relatively intact, nearly a year after its final game. The last of the seats were sliced out in early June (taking care to preserve them for sale to any collectors willing to cough up $750 apiece), and demolition scaffolding went up later that month. Since then, though, all has been mostly quiet: Despite reports that the centerfield "black" seats would be carted off to Reggie Jackson's estate by now, they were still intact as of Friday, as were the foul poles; even the bat-shaped weathervane atop the flagpole is still in operation.

The seemingly placid state of affairs has led to some angry protests by neighborhood residents impatient for the new ballfields that are slated to replace the House That Ruth Built once the wrecking ball has finally finished its work. The latest came yesterday, when the newly organized For The South Bronx Coalition marched around the stadium (note: Español required, or at least Google Translate) to call for speedier demolition, among other promises they say the Yanks have broken.

"Shea Stadium was demolished in a couple of months, while Yankee Stadium is going to take a year and a half because they're selling it off brick by brick by brick," says coalition leader Ramon Jimenez.

While one new temporary park, atop a Yankees parking garage, opened this spring, another that had opened in 2007 north of the Macombs Dam Bridge approach was razed recently to prepare for construction of yet another garage. And according to Jimenez, the artificial surface at the garage-top park has proven less than ideal: "The kids start to play football there, and the temperatures reach 150 degrees."

David Lombino, a spokesperson for the NYC Economic Development Corporation, which is overseeing the demolition of the old stadium, says everything is proceeding according to schedule, with the grandstand to be completely razed by next June, and the new parks opening sometime in 2011. Current work is focused on "soft demolition," he says, such as removal of sheetrock and drop ceilings, with major demolition work starting "within two months" — conveniently or not, just in time to avoid forcing fans to walk by a half-gutted ballpark on their way to postseason games. (As for the report that work was being delayed so that Robby Benson can shoot a movie about Lou Gehrig, Thurman Munson, and a magic storeroom, Lombino says the filming has had no effect on the schedule.)

Jimenez, however, insists that according to his source within the Yankees organization, the slow pace has another cause: "The main thing is they're figuring out how to sell every little part in it."

The other demands put forward by the For The South Bronx Coalition include that the Yankees release figures showing whether the team has employed local residents as promised in the Community Benefits Agreement it signed in 2006; and the replacement of the scandal-plagued chief of the Yanks' community benefits fund, which the coalition claims has distributed only about $600,000 of the promised $2.4 million in community aid, much of it in other parts of the Bronx.

"Where I live, my community's not inconvenienced by the new stadium," says Jimenez, a Throgs Neck resident who runs a law office on 149th Street in the South Bronx. "I went to the last grant ceremony, and the Throgs Neck Little Leagues would get $7,500; the few South Bronx Little Leagues they got $1,000 or $1,500. The discrepancy was amazing."

Meanwhile, the push is on from another group of Yankee fans and historic preservationists to preserve Gate 2, the section of the original stadium that survived the 1970s renovations the most intact. While they have Bronx borough historian Lloyd Ultan on their side ("If you go to Rome, you can get some idea of what the Forum was like from the ruins"), the Parks Department insists there are "no current plans" to preserve the gate, something EDC has estimated would cost $10 million. And Jimenez says he wouldn't want to delaying the parks still further just to retain a symbolic piece of the old stadium: "We don't think it has that great significance." At least, not compared to a ballfield that won't cause second-degree burns.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Protest at Yankee Stadium

Bronx News Network has a report, with slide show, of a protest at Yankee Stadium. Click the title above to be taken to their site.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

"Yanks Don't Need to Give More Stadium Documents" NY Times 7/31/9

Yanks Don’t Need to Give More Stadium Documents

Published: July 31, 2009

An Albany judge has quashed a subpoena demanding that the Yankees provide two Assembly committees with far more documents about the financing of the new Yankee Stadium than the team has provided.

The subpoena was a central part of the contentious exchanges between Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky and Randy Levine, the Yankees’ president, over more than $1 billion in city-issued, tax-exempt financing for the stadium, and new jobs creation, ticket prices and the appraised value of the stadium’s real estate.

State Supreme Court Justice John C. Egan Jr. rejected the Yankees’ argument that Brodsky lacked the legislative authority to issue the subpoena. But in an opinion dated Wednesday, he wrote, “I do believe the Yankees have made a good-faith effort to comply with the subpoena, culling through and producing a great deal of documents for inspection by the Corporations Committee,” which Brodsky chairs.

Egan called it “unreasonable” for the Yankees to go through more than 2,000 boxes of documents and more than one million e-mails to comply with the “overly broad” subpoena.

“Subpoenas should not be used as fishing expeditions,” he wrote. He added that the more appropriate target of Brodsky’s investigation into public financing of stadiums for privately-owned businesses like the Yankees should be the city and not the team.

Jonathan D. Schiller, of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, who represented the Yankees, said: “Brodsky lost big time. His subpoena was quashed after an evidentiary hearing.”

“It would have been better had we gotten the documents,” Brodsky said from Montana.

Friday, July 31, 2009

"NY judge rejects Yankee Stadium funding subpoena" Newsday 7/30/9

NY judge rejects Yankee Stadium funding subpoena
July 30, 2009 By The Associated Press MICHAEL VIRTANEN (Associated Press Writer)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A judge has quashed a subpoena from lawmakers literally seeking a truckload of documents from the New York Yankees about construction and financing of the team's new Bronx stadium.

State Supreme Court Justice John Egan Jr. said the Yankees already have made a good faith effort to comply with the January subpoena from two Assembly committees, a request he ruled Thursday was unreasonably broad.

Democratic Assemblymen Richard Brodsky of Westchester and James Brennan of Brooklyn sued to have the court further enforce their legislative subpoena. They said questions remain about the return to taxpayers for public financing of the team's stadium project.

Brodsky wouldn't immediately say Thursday if he will appeal the ruling or revise his subpoena. "We remain committed to the conclusion of our investigation," he said.

Yankees' attorneys Jonathan Schiller and George Carpinello noted the judge's warning that subpoena power should not be used for harassment or as a fishing expedition. In a joint statement, they said millions of fans already have enjoyed the new stadium and the season is in full swing.

"It is time to move on," the statement said.

The Yankees had argued that meeting the subpoena's demands would be an unreasonable task involving millions of documents and e-mails. They said the roughly $1.5 billion stadium project has been fully vetted in 23 public hearings before various government agencies. Yankees executives appeared at Assembly committee hearings earlier this year.

Egan noted the growing national trend of using public money to help build sports stadiums for privately owned teams. He said the Yankees didn't invent the practice, and instead only joined a long line of teams to apply for publicly backed stadium financing.

"The propriety of using tax dollars for such purposes or granting 'tax breaks' is certainly debatable, and Mr. Brodsky is right to bring this issue to the floor of the Legislature for public debate," Egan wrote. But he said requiring the team to produce "hundreds of thousands of pages, load them literally into a tractor-trailer and deliver them to the Legislature is neither reasonable nor productive of this goal."

The New York City Economic Development Corp. has said the stadium cost $1.4 billion, and the agency issued $1.2 billion in mostly tax-exempt bonds. The Yankees write a monthly check to the investors who bought the bonds. They are payments in lieu of taxes.

The agency's analysis shows a $60 million net benefit to taxpayers over the 30-year life of the lease, which considered mortgage and sales tax forgiveness among other public costs. Another document cites the Yankees' projection of 1,000 new permanent jobs.

By Brodsky's accounting, the funding package is worth $4 billion to the Yankees, including the face value of the bonds, the interest offset by their in-lieu-of-tax payments, direct cash payments and mortgage and sales tax relief. Brodsky said Yankees' documents show a net increase of only 50 permanent jobs.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

"Replacement of parks in (slow) motion" NY Daily News 7/1/9

Replacement of parks in (slow) motion

Wednesday, July 1st 2009, 10:44 AM
Locals still waiting for the replacement parks promised when construction of the new Yankee Stadium destroyed the old ones got a dog-and-pony show last week, but not a lot of good news.

While the new Stadium was completed on schedule, locals are still waiting for completion of all the promised replacement parkland.

"The period keeps getting dragged out," certified city planner and stadium critic Lukas Herbert told city officials at a community briefing meeting on Wednesday.

"In the meantime, kids have no place to play."

Bronx Parks Commissioner Hector Aponte said the city was doing everything it could to complete the parks as soon as possible.

Aponte estimated the parks would be completed by either the fall or end of 2010.

He and officials from the city Economic Development Corp. presented slides showing what the finished green spaces would look like.

The New Macombs Dam Park, being built on the roof of a parking garage, is now partially open. A synthetic turf field has been laid down, along with a synthetic running track.

Aponte said the department hoped to have the planned tennis courts and permanent running track completed later this year.
The community has been eagerly awaiting the approximately 22 acres of new parks for the last three years.

In the city's original plans, most of the replacement parks were scheduled to be open by now. But construction has gone through several delays and none of the parks - most being built on the roofs of stadium parking garages - have been completed.

All the seats in the old Yankee Stadium have now been removed, and are being sold by the Yankees, Aponte said, while demolition is scheduled to begin soon on the side of the stadium running along 157th St.

The design for Heritage Field, to be built once the old stadium is plowed under, is now 50% completed.

To better feature the stadium's history, two pieces of the frieze - the decorative wooden grating that rings the House that Ruth Built - will be incorporated as a part of the future field's Little League ballfield.

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."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"A tale of two new Stadiums" 4/27/9

Click the title to read the article at the site.

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."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Is This Seat Taken? In Front Rows of New Ballparks, Not Yet" NY Times 4/21/9

Click the title for a nice helping of schadenfreude.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Displaced by the Yankees, Some Bronx Athletic Teams Go Homeless" NY Times 4/18/9

Displaced by the Yankees, Some Bronx Athletic Teams Go Homeless

Published: April 18, 2009

The roar of the fans could be heard for blocks on Saturday as the New York Yankees played their third regular season game in their new $1.5 billion stadium. Hours earlier, the junior varsity baseball squad from All Hallows High School sprinted onto the field for their fourth game of the season.

It was technically a home game for All Hallows, a Catholic school in the Bronx that is down the street from the new Yankee Stadium. But home no longer means home for the student athletes. Their game was played on Staten Island.

For years the home baseball field for the All Hallows Gaels was at Macombs Dam Park. But the field and the park were demolished to make way for the new stadium. Without a home field, coaches have held baseball practices in the cafeteria and the gym, and the school had to spend $75,000 to buy two buses and is planning to buy a third for $25,000 because of the increased travel to and from games.

Early in the game on Saturday, played on the home diamond of the opposing team, St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School, Luggi Batista, a sophomore at All Hallows, made a solid hit to give the team a 2-0 lead, but not a single All Hallows parent was in attendance to watch it happen. The team met at All Hallows at 9:15 a.m. and squeezed into a 15-seat bus for the one-hour trip to Staten Island, where they looked sharp in the familiar pinstripes of their major-league neighbors.

“That’s the ironic thing,” said the All Hallows principal, Sean Sullivan. “We’re wearing Yankee pinstripes, and they’re the ones that threw us off the field. And I’m a die-hard Yankee fan. And, boy, am I dying hard here.”

The official opening of the new Yankee Stadium last week was greeted by rave reviews from many fans. But some parks advocates, community leaders and neighborhood residents have been less enthusiastic, frustrated by the loss of ball fields as well as the construction delays and rising costs of replacement parks.

The new stadium was built across the street from the old one on Macombs Dam Park and a portion of John Mullaly Park. State and federal law dictates that parkland removed from public use must be replaced by parkland of equal or greater value. The city’s Parks and Recreation Department originally said seven of the eight replacement parks planned for the area would be completed in time for opening day at the new stadium. But the agency later pushed back the schedule for some of the parks, and a report in January by the city’s Independent Budget Office found that the cost to replace the two parks had climbed to nearly $195 million, up from a 2005 estimate of $116 million.

Shortly before the Yankees game against the Cleveland Indians on Saturday, several dozen men, women and children packed a small interim park at East 161st Street and Jerome Avenue in the shadow of the two stadiums. People jogged along a track as groups hit baseballs and threw footballs on a green synthetic turf.

About a dozen young men from a local youth sports organization, the Bronx Colts, practiced football pass patterns. A coach, Joey Allen, 28, and the group’s founder, Leroy Freeman Jr., 54, said the interim park was too small for a regulation game and too crowded for a smooth practice. A few weeks ago, a 7-year-old boy on a Bronx Colts team was hit in the face with a wayward baseball, Mr. Freeman and Mr. Allen said.

“It’s congested,” Mr. Freeman said. “It’s really unbearable. The replacement parks should have been built first.”

The new seven-acre Macombs Dam Park, with four handball courts and a soccer and football field, among other amenities, is under construction and scheduled for completion in the spring of 2010, although a portion of it will open later this month, said Adrian Benepe, the city’s parks commissioner. A nine-acre park called Heritage Field will be built on the site of the old stadium and is set to open in 2011. And a 10-acre park on the Harlem River waterfront will open in the winter of 2009-10, he said.

Mr. Benepe said he was sympathetic to All Hallows High School and others in the neighborhood who used the old Macombs Dam Park, but he described the situation as a natural consequence of rebuilding the parks. “By the time all of the construction is done, this neighborhood will have one of the finest collection of parks and sports facilities anywhere in the city,” he said, adding, “In a crowded city like New York, when you do public works, there’s always going to be inconvenience.”

The total acreage that will be replaced remains a point of dispute. The nonprofit group NYC Park Advocates issued a report last year saying that the neighborhood would lose nearly four acres of parkland when the eight replacement parks were completed, but Mr. Benepe said their calculations were wrong. The civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel said he was considering filing a lawsuit over the four-acre loss.

“There needs to be an apology to this community for the promises unkept,” Mr. Siegel said.

Last year, All Hallows applied for a $40,000 grant to purchase a bus from a community benefits fund financed by the Yankees as part of the new stadium deal. Paul Krebbs, the president of All Hallows, said the school was turned down. The Yankees gave All Hallows a pitching machine, but it is too big for the school’s facilities, and sits in storage in the gym, said Mr. Sullivan, the principal.

A Yankees spokeswoman said the team controlled neither the timing of replacement parks nor the distribution of grants, but added that it gave the city $10 million for parks. Brian Smith, senior vice president of corporate and community relations for the Yankees, said the team had been a good neighbor, with its nonprofit foundation giving nearly $1 million a year to Bronx community groups. He said the team pays for bus service for the baseball and other athletic teams at Cardinal Hayes High School, and it was interested in working with All Hallows but had not received a request for transportation assistance.

“We would love to help our neighbor,” Mr. Smith said. “The only thing we need is a request from the organization.”

On Staten Island, in the dugout at the All Hallows home game, Roger Ramos, 16, a third baseman and sophomore, said he did not like to make excuses, but he thought the team would be better if it had a home field. All Hallows lost, 8-4. The Yankees did too, 22-4.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"The Yankees' Field Of Screams" The Huffington Post 4/16/9

The Yankees' Field Of Screams
Thomas B. Edsall

"Wall Street bankers supposedly back the Yankees; Smith College girls approve of them. God, Brooks Brothers, and United States Steel are believed to be solidly in the Yankees' corner... but, as they say, who can fall in love with U.S. Steel?"
- Gay Talese in "There Are Fans... And Yankee Fans"

On Thursday afternoon, some 48,271 New York Yankees fans took a break from the drumbeat of lost jobs and looming tax hikes to take in the season opener, forking over anywhere from $95 to $2,625 for a seat with a view.

As these good folks tried to get relief from endangered paychecks and rising property assessments, at least a few suffered envy and anger as they thought about the millions, perhaps even $1 billion-plus, in public subsidies that went into building the brand-new stadium.

The beneficiary of all that cash is one of the most lucrative sports operations in the country, Yankee Global Enterprises LLC, the franchise George Steinbrenner bought for $8.7 million in 1973 and turned into an empire with a value pegged, last year, at $1.2 billion.

Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg did not blink at this transfer of money to the deserving rich - George Steinbrenner and his two sons, Hal and Hugh.

Not everyone shares the Giuliani-Bloomberg view of how to spend taxpayer dollars.

Westchester County Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, the Don Quixote of sports politics, has been conducting a one-man assault on the financing of Yankee Stadium, but, so far, has little or nothing beyond few headlines to show for it.

In a series of lengthy, detailed and footnoted reports, Brodsky has tried to prove that the construction of the new stadium is, as he told the Huffington Post in characteristically moderate New York language, "the most outrageous and dishonest a deal as has ever existed," engineered by Yankee executives who are nothing more than "bullies and thugs."

Brodsky, chair of the NY Assembly Committee on Corporations, Commissions and Authorities, found that "inappropriate and secretive lobbying by highly paid and politically connected procurement lobbyists, inappropriate hiring of politically connected former government officials, disposition of public property for less than its true value, [and] interference with investigations of such behavior" produced a deal with a "total cost to taxpayers and savings to the Yankees [of] between $585 million and $826 million."

The Mayor's office, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the NY City Industrial Agency (IDA) dispute Brodsky's calculations, and, using different accounting methods - method some challenge -- argue that the city emerges from the deal a net $59.7 million ahead.

In fact, as the baseball season starts in earnest and the basketball and hockey seasons wind down, New York got what might be described as one of the "least bad" deals in negotiating who will pick up how much of the tab for new facilities -- in the face of team owners armed with a single trump card: the threat to leave town.

Smith College economist Andrew Zimbalist, a critic of most public spending on stadiums and other sports facilities, wrote a January 22, 2006, New York Times op-ed in which he declared, "the crucial public policy question here is whether there will be a net benefit for residents of the Bronx and the other boroughs. The answer is yes."

Neil deMause, author of "Field of Schemes," a book which weighs in against sport arena financing, strongly opposes the Yankee Stadium plan. On his Website, deMause calculates that the new stadium will cost the city $691 million, NY state $115 million, the NY Metropolitan Transit Authority $53 million, and the federal government $327 million -- for a combined taxpayer bill of $1.19 billion, nearly double the $671 million cost to the team.

"The Yankees deal actually manages to be both the largest team expense on a stadium in history, and the largest public expense on a stadium in history, somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 billion," deMause told the Huffington Post. "The city gets no part of the new revenues the Yankees will reap from the stadium; the jobs created are virtually all part-time, and largely cannibalized from other stores and restaurants in the surrounding area; Bronx residents lost their only large neighborhood park [until the old Yankee stadium is demolished and replaced by a park], for at least five years; and fans got more expensive seats with a lousier view of the field. All this, so that the Yankees wouldn't move out of New York - something that was never going to happen anyway, since the entire value of the Yankees franchise is wrapped up in where they play. I'd call that a pretty lousy deal."

The New York Times, in turn, has become increasingly skeptical of the deal: "Seats for $1,500 a game? Suites fit for the royal family? A scoreboard fit for the Big Board? A fabulous steakhouse and granite ramps (no ordinary cement for this crowd)? This $1 billion-plus pavilion and park financed with a lot of taxpayer help is beginning to sound like something fit for the Wizard of Oz," the paper editorialized on January 14 .

"Mayor Bloomberg has - rightly - had to cut city budgets and increase property taxes and explain to residents how times are bad and how we all will have to share the pain. It is time for Mr. Bloomberg to make that same pitch to the Yankees. If the Yankees can sign megamillion-dollar contracts (C. C. Sabathia just landed one for $161 million over seven years), they should be flush enough to contribute more toward their new stadium and to the parks for people living nearby."

The political facts of life, however, dictate that the stadium is a done deal. Property taxes are going up, jobs are down the chute, and the Yankees will play in their new palace. If the team wants to retain support in brutal economic times, their performance Thursday afternoon is not going to help.

The Cleveland Indians crushed the richest team in baseball 10-2.

Monday, April 13, 2009

"Yankee Stadium Is Opening but Not the Parks" Gotham Gazette 4/9

Click the title above to read this excellent report, including maps and hyperlinks.