New York City has a new mayor, and contrary to expectations Bill de Blasio does not have a ticking time bomb of a soccer stadium deal to rule on in the first month or two of his administration, as NYC F.C. and outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg failed to agree on a memorandum of understanding for the project before the end of the year.
In retrospect, this actually makes a fair bit of sense for team owners Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the New York Yankees: Setting a deadline wasn’t going to be much of a threat (“Approve our stadium money or else we won’t ask for it!”), and was only likely to upset the local elected officials and community members who right now seem to be collectively taking a “we wouldn’t mind a stadium, we just want one that has something in it for us” approach to the whole deal. So brinksmanship is apparently off the table for the moment, and haggling is in.
The bigger question now is if NYC F.C. does succeed in placating local interests by, say, ensuring that schoolkids can use the facility, will de Blasio sign off on the tax breaks that Bloomberg offered for the project, which could end up costing the city more than $150 million? Or does his expression of “real concerns” mean he’ll renegotiate that as well? Somewhat controversially, De Blasio did retain Bloomberg’s Economic Development Corporation chief, but he’s also perfectly capable of giving him new marching orders if he wants to. With a deadline now off the table, this may take several more months to play out, but it’s going to be extremely interesting to watch.