New York Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez has a long piece today detailing new revelations about the three new parking garages taxpayers are helping build for the Yankees, focusing primarily on how team players and officials will get an estimated $2 million a year worth of free valet parking at the team-only garage attached to their new stadium.
Possibly even bigger news, though, is that the price tag on the project is now at an estimated $340 million, up from $288 million at last report. The extra cost is supposed to be picked up by the private non-profit shell corporation that’s financing the bulk of the deal (the state is kicking in $70 million). However, since the city only gets its $3.2 million in annual rent payments on the new garages if there’s “excess cash flow” from garage revenues after the construction bonds are paid off, higher bond payments mean an increased likelihood that the garage builders won’t have anything left to pay rent with – effectively leaving the city holding the bag. (The city told Gonzalez that unpaid rent “will accrue interest at a compound annual rate … until paid in full,” but if the garages never turn a profit, interest will just accrue forever.)
So far, most other news outlets have focused solely on how the documents Gonzalez uncovered show that fan parking could cost double at the new stadium what it did at the old, though that cat’s been out of the bag for two years now. WNYC-FM did ask Mayor Mike Bloomberg what he thought of the Yankees getting 600 free parking spaces as part of their stadium deal, to which the mayor replied helpfully, “I suppose some argument for handful of free parking spaces. That does sound like a large number, but I’m not familiar with actual details.”
In related news, the Yankees fan site River Avenue Blues, meanwhile, includes a slideshow of photos of the stadium construction site, including one of the former ballfields and basketball courts immediately adjacent to Yankee Stadium, currently a muddy pit in preparation for becoming … you guessed it, a parking garage.