When the New York city council abruptly canceled a public hearing on the $1.2 billion Yankees stadium project earlier this month, some observers – okay, me – wondered if this presaged an October Surprise before the council vote. Conspiracy theorists, take note: Yesterday the Yankees (or someone) leaked to the press details of a “community benefits” plan wherein the team would provide $28 million over 40 years (present value: $10.5 million) for a community “trust fund,” plus $100,000 a year for parks maintenance and another $100,000 for “equipment and promotional merchandise” for schools and youth groups (present value: $3 million), in exchange for approval of its plan to build a new stadium on public parkland with the aid of about $420 million in public subsidies.
Critics of the plan were notably not won over by this new promise of Yankeebucks – the Bronx group Save Our Parks is rallying in opposition at City Hall as I type this – noting that the trust fund would be administered by the same Bronx officials who have backed the plan in the first place. “It would be like the fox guarding the henhouse,” city councilmember Helen Diane Foster told the New York Times, while community board member Lukas Herbert called it a “slush fund” for the Bronx political machine. Herbert also noted that his community board, which represents the stadium site, had never been consulted about this new agreement – which, to say the least, goes against the whole point of community benefits agreements.
LATE NOTE: Metro NY reports:
[Bronx Borough President Adolfo] Carrion seemed especially proud of a community benefits program that would give out $900,000 annually over the team’s 40-year lease. “If you look at the investment in the community every year over 40 years, you’re talking about in excess of $50 million.”
Anyone who can recreate Carrion’s math in multiplying $900,000 by 40 and getting “in excess of $50 million,” please contact the Nobel Prize committee immediately.