Life after death for Yankees garages?

Those privately run, publicly subsidized New York Yankees parking garages may be headed for bankruptcy by next April, but apparently they’re not totally worthless: Hedge funds are reportedly buying up the garage debt in hopes of seizing the garages once they go into default and turning them around.

“This facility seems meaningfully impaired, but there are some potential fixes,” said Laurence Gottlieb, chief executive officer of Fundamental Advisors LP, a private-equity firm in New York that buys municipal debt. “Costs can be reduced and it could be repositioned for commuter parking.”

That seems pretty optimistic, given that Yankees fans have much cheaper parking options nearby, and that any commuters parking there would face a long subway ride to Midtown once they parked. (The Metro-North commuter rail line would be faster, but if you’re going to ride Metro-North, there are already other park-and-ride options.) Of course, the Bloomberg News article doesn’t say how much the hedge funds are paying for the garage debt — if it’s pennies on the dollar, then suddenly even half-empty garages look a lot more profitable.

Either way, if the current garage owner goes under, city taxpayers presumably lose the $43 million in future rent payments they were supposed to be getting from them. But after $700 million in city subsidies, what’s another $43 million among friends?

Stadium demolition porn alert: “House of Steinbrenner” airs Sept. 21

For those who haven’t gotten enough of images of the demolition of Yankee Stadium, Barbara Kopple’s documentary “The House of Steinbrenner” debuts Tuesday, Sept. 21 on ESPN, and promises previously unseen footage of this spring’s carnage. Writes Richard Sandomir in the New York Times:

Kopple said that she received access from the city to film the stadium’s destruction, which the rest of the news media had to observe from rooftops and the subway platform.

She shot the upper deck being torn down, the seats being removed and Derek Jeter’s locker being taken apart — and the emotion of longtime team employees like Debbie Nicolosi as a beloved stadium died to give life to one that cost more than a billion dollars to build.

According to Sandomir, these are the only parts of the film worth watching. If you like, you know, that sort of thing.

Internets Celebrities debut “Stadium Status”

The fine folks at Internets Celebrities have released their latest video, titled “Stadium Status,” and I can say without hesitation that it’s the finest (and funniest) web video ever made on the subject of stadium scams.

Featured are myself (in the role of talking-head stadium expert) and Killian Jordan (as the angry Bronx resident), plus IC hosts Rafi Kam and Dallas Penn providing an 18-minute tour of the machinations behind the new Yankees and Mets stadiums and Nets arena. Find out why the the New York Times called them a cross between Michael Moore and Dave Chappelle! (Not that Moore has been funny in years. Or Chappelle, for that matter. Hey, wait, was the Times actually dissing them?)

Seriously, it’s a great video, and you couldn’t ask for a better primer on the ill effects of new stadiums on both our cities and sports fandom. At least, not until I finally get permission to upload video of the Shoddy Puppet Company’s shadow puppet play based on Field of Schemes. It’s hard to beat shadow puppets.

Yankee Stadium Gate 2 balconies saved, headed somewhere

Yankee Stadium’s Gate 2 may be rubble, but the campaign to save it did have one lasting effect: The New York City Parks Department has salvaged three vintage balconies and plans to display them somewhere, possibly in the public park that is supposed to open on the old stadium site late next year.

Apparently, Parks has planned on trying to save the balconies (which are not from the stadium’s “1923 opening” as the Daily News claims; the left-field grandstand wasn’t built until 1928) all along, but didn’t announce it, Parks planning official Josh Laird wrote to preservationist Michael Hagan, “because it was unclear if the balconies would survive the [demolition] process and we did not wish to raise false hopes.”

So there will be at least one fragment of the original Yankee Stadium that the public will be able to see and touch. That is, without going to Derek Jeter’s house.

Last of Yankee Stadium seating bowl demolished

The last section of the Yankee Stadium upper deck, the only remaining part of the seating bowl, was demolished on Thursday.

More photos here and here and here.

All that remains now is the exterior wall (and some scraps of interior concourse), including Gate 2, which some preservationists are trying to save as the most intact fragment of the original 1923-era stadium. The Save the Yankee Gate 2 Committee Committee to Commemorate Old Yankee Stadium this week asked the city Landmarks Preservation Commission for an emergency injunction against the destruction of the gate, citing a mayor’s office official who last month testified that the gate was an original 1923 structure. No word yet on any response from the commission. (The group says it’s also offered to pay for removal and preservation of the 1920s terra cotta medallions and balconies that are part of Gate 2; no word on the fate of that proposal, either.)

Gate 2 organizer Michael Hagan, meanwhile, passed along the city’s latest plans for memorializing Yankee Stadium, which include outlining the field dimensions in dark green grass (the original home plate site would be second base in a new public ballfield), keeping the smokestack “bat” and two pieces of the concrete frieze that ran atop the scoreboard in the renovated stadium, and installing “historical moments” embedded in the sidewalk and viewfinders in the park showing “photographic slides.”

It all sounds a lot like this.

More Yankee Stadium demolition porn

More photos of Yankee Stadium demolition, courtesy of FoS reader Cary Goodman, and a video, courtesy of some guy who sent it to CNN. The CNN “iReporter” says that “accoring to officials” the entire upper deck will be demolished in 3 weeks — I’ll see if I can confirm that.

[UPDATE: David Lombino of the NYC Economic Development Corporation confirms to me that the upper deck will be gone in three weeks. This means that all that will be left once fans arrive for Opening Day on April 13 will be a few exterior walls, which for better or for worse should spare them this kind of scene.]

Yankee Stadium demolition picks up pace

I dropped by Yankee Stadium yesterday, where the pace of demolition is picking up as the June completion date nears. (Not to mention, cynics might note, opening day, by when the Yankees might like to have the picked-apart corpse of the House That Ruth Built out of sight as much as possible.) The left-field grandstand has a large hole in it now, and several deep gashes where work crews are preparing to take down more sections.

There’s also a growing crowd of people on the nearby #4 elevated train platform, snapping a few photos but mostly watching the demolition in grim silence. Yesterday I met an off-duty policeman who said the scene was “sad,” and that he’d worked the final game at the old stadium; he also pointed out the old Yankee logo etched into the exterior outfield wall, now exposed for the first time in decades by the demolition crews. (See more photos below the jump, click to enlarge).

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