Wednesday, July 02, 2008

"Hot dog clause in financing of new stadium gives taxpayers heartburn" Daily News 7/2/8

Hot dog clause in financing of new stadium gives taxpayers heartburn
Wednesday, July 2nd 2008, 12:56 AM

Call it the secret Hot Dog Giveaway.

The Yankees could be allowed to operate up to 25 vendor pushcarts outside the new stadium as part of a secret provision the team negotiated with the city and state for parking garages being built with public financing.

The "hot dog" clause - never made public until now - would kick in if the Yankees don't get 600 free year-round parking spaces.

That little goodie is just one ofseveral revelations buried in thousands of pages of documents and e-mails about the stadium project that city officials recently gave Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester).

Brodsky, who heads the assembly committee that oversees public authorities, demanded the documents after learning last month that the city's Industrial Development Agency was backing a Yankee request for $366 million in additional tax-exempt financing to complete the Bronx project.

The new request comes on top of the $942 million in taxexempt bonds the Yankees have received.

Brodsky has scheduled a public hearing today on the entire project. It islikely to be the toughest public review the $1.3 billion stadium has received.

"The more you see of authorities like the IDA, the more you realize they act like old-style Soviet commissars," Brodsky said. "No one has elected them, they're not accountable to anyone, and they operate in secrecy."

The assemblyman was furious when he learned that City Hall and state economic development officials have quietly urged the Internal Revenue Service to change its regulations to allow the Yankees and other city teams to pile up more tax-exempt debt simply to finance what are essentially private projects.

According to other documents IDA released to Brodsky, Mayor Bloomberg and former Gov. George Pataki greatly exaggerated the number of permanent jobs the new Yankee stadium will produce.

At the groundbreaking in August 2006, Bloomberg announced that the new stadium would "result in about 1,000 permanent jobs."

The actual job figures the Yankees submitted in their application to the IDA told a far different story.

They show the Yankees had only 104 full-time permanent employees in 2005. Included in that total were all team executives, ballplayers, office workers and maintenance personnel. Barely half were city residents.

The number of full-time permanent jobs, the Yankees projected, would increase to 140 by 2009, the year the new stadium will open. That's a gain of just 36 permanent jobs.

The big increase was expected to come in seasonal workers. The team predicted their number will jump from 440 in 2005 to 950 by the time the stadium opens - an increase of 510 part-time jobs.

In the team's newest application for more money, submitted by Yankees Vice President Lon Trost in March, the Yankees reported 879 part-timers on the payroll.

Amazingly, more than 700 of those part-timers live outside the five boroughs. So even the part-time jobs are barely benefitting city residents or the team's Bronx neighbors.

So why, we might be expected to ask, is City Hall backing hundreds of millions more in tax-exempt financing for a private business that barely employs city residents?

"At a time when we can't find enough money for the MTA and other public needs, who is making the decision to put these public resources in the hands of private parties?" Brodsky wants to know.

Well, the bureaucrats over at the IDA will finally get to explain today why they keep falling over themselves to give the richest team in American sports more public subsidies.


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