New council speaker could be formidable foe for Bronx soccer stadium

The proposed NYC F.C. soccer stadium adjacent to new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx already was facing “real concerns” from new mayor Bill de Blasio, demands for community benefits from local residents, and a rising subsidy price tag, but it just hit what could be an even more formidable obstacle: Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito, the current frontrunner to be city council speaker, just saw her district lines redrawn to include the proposed stadium site, and is not happy with the current form of the deal, according to Capital New York’s Dana Rubinstein:

[Mark-Viverito] believes the incentives reportedly negotiated as part of a possible deal between the Bloomberg administration and the New York City Football Club are too generous, according to two sources familiar with her thinking.

It’s worth noting that in addition to being co-chair of the council’s Progressive Caucus, Mark-Viverito also has a record of skepticism about stadium subsidies: During the council’s rubber-stamping of the Yankees‘ own stadium plan in 2006, she was one of the few members to ask tough questions about the deal, and was one of only two members to vote against the team’s now-collapsing garage financing plan (though she voted for the stadium itself). While it’s unlikely she’d oppose an NYC F.C. stadium on ideological grounds — especially if local community leaders end up backing it — she’s certainly likely to drive a hard bargain.

Of course, it’s still possible that Mark-Viverito’s speaker campaign will fall apart: Already this week she’s been charged with failing to report income from apartments she owns on city disclosure forms, accused of having her allies threaten councilmembers with retribution if they didn’t vote for her, and sued for having a santeria chicken head painted on a rival’s building. (Her rival Daniel Garodnick just has the real estate industry casting aspersions on his behalf.) Even if she’s not speaker, though, as local council representative for the stadium site, she’ll have huge pull in deciding what happens to the project. And suffice to say she’s not likely to be a Maria del Carmen Arroyo.

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2 comments on “New council speaker could be formidable foe for Bronx soccer stadium

  1. She sounds like one those politicos that scream loud in order to get a big under the table payoff. Ask hard questions but vote for it anyway, just like the mayor. Hey why not build it at Willets point or on those city owned parking lots the Mets control. Now that tennis and soccer are out of the way, watch the mets do whatever they want on parkland with the mayors blessing.

  2. I don’t know her well enough to say whether she has a price for selling out, but to be fair, during that vote in 2006 she had just been subjected to an hour-long tirade from then-speaker Chris Quinn about how she’d be hung from the highest yardarm if she voted against the project. There were plenty of other councilmembers who spoke out against the deal during the hearing, then voted for it anyway because they knew they couldn’t defeat it.

    One of the big questions if MMV becomes speaker is whether she’ll carry on with the reforms to council procedure that she’d backed as head of the Progressive Caucus, but which would significantly reduce her power to punish councilmembers for not doing her bidding as speaker. Gonna be very interesting.

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