As everyone has probably heard by now (it was the lead item on Google News last I checked, beating out BP’s latest attempt to cap the oil spill), New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died this morning of a heart attack. Most of the coverage so far has talked about the seven championships the Yankees won during his tenure and his “bluster“; less attention has been given to his role in the debacle that is New Yankee Stadium.
I’ve posted some of my own favorite memories of Steinbrenner’s Yankee tenure elsewhere. Meanwhile, to honor The Boss’s 30-year campaign to get public stadium cash, let’s take a trip down memory lane with some choice quotes from June 1998, when Steinbrenner absolutely, positively had to have a new stadium in Manhattan, or else:
George Steinbrenner last night blasted City Council Speaker Peter Vallone and ominously hinted that the Yankees would consider a New Jersey home if they don’t get what they want in New York.
The Boss attacked Vallone’s bid for a voter referendum on a Bombers’ stadium, saying it is “bringing us dangerously close” to leaving town. …
“Politics has driven more teams from New York City than any of us care to remember, most recently the football Giants and Jets to New Jersey,” Steinbrenner said. …
“I do not want to move the Yankees from New York,” Steinbrenner said, “but I must warn: He [Vallone] is bringing us dangerously close.”
To recap: Vallone’s referendum got knocked off the ballot, but the city council refused to fund the Manhattan stadium plan, which swiftly died. The Yankees somehow managed to keep from moving to New Jersey, and it took another decade, and another mayor, before Steinbrenner got his new building.
Steinbrenner is survived by his children Hank, Hal, Jessica, and Jennifer, $1.2 billion in public subsidies for his new stadium, and a big hole in the ground where promised parks were supposed to be by now.