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June 24, 2005

NYS legislature greenlights Mets, Yanks stadiums

In what must be a speed record, the New York state legislature has passed authorizing legislation for new Yankees and Mets stadiums, less than two weeks after they were first proposed. While there's some confusion over the exact provisions of the bill, the Associated Press reports that it included $75 million in state bonds for each team, plus another $75 million for unrelated projects upstate - presumably to placate state senate majority leader Joe Bruno, who has been insisting on getting equal subsidies for his upstate constituents in any stadium deal. The New York Post also reports that the bill "authorizes the transfer of Macombs Dam Park, across from the current stadium, to the team for building a new stadium. The city is also permitted to take other land for new parks."

While state approval doesn't make the stadiums a done deal - they still must receive hundreds of millions of dollars more from the New York city council, as well as likely going through a land-use approval process that could take a year or more - it is one major hurdle down. That the legislature managed to accomplish this on such short notice is a tribute to the teams' political machinations - though the fact that it was done with no public hearings and almost no public notice is less of a tribute to New York's alleged democratic process.

LATE NOTE: Further review reveals that the same legislative session that approved $150 million in state stadium funding also passed $150 million in tax breaks for state assembly speaker Sheldon Silver's lower Manhattan district. This just can't be a coincidence.


What's going to be both funny and sad is if the city loses the Olympic bid. Bloomberg's mad dash to build stadiums before the bid is even awarded to the city has put taxpayers on the line for hundreds of millions in public subsidies. The Mets and Yankees have very shrewdly taken advantage of the situation. They've played their hand well; I'll give them credit for that. For Bloomberg to commit to spending this money before we know if the City actually will be the Games host is just insane. It's completely ass backwards. You can bet Bloomberg wouldn't do something similar if he were back in the private sector. And the Jets are still pushing to close the deal on the West Side, at least for all outward appearances. So, at the end of the day, it's still completely possible that NYC will lose the bid and end up with three new stadiums, none of which are desperately needed, all of which are getting large infusions of taxpayer cash at a time when the city does not have money to burn and struggles to fund basic services and departments. What a screwed up situation this has become. Hizzoner and Doctoroff have taken advantage of the potential CHANCE of the city hosting the Games and used it as a rationale to push forward land use projects that, removed from the hype of the Olympics, would have much more difficulty being sold to the public on their own merits. This is a classic Tammany Hall-type situation being played out in the 21st century.

Posted by Guy B. Jones on June 26, 2005 07:21 AM

Of course he'd push for four stadiums (don't forget the Nets) now while not in the private sector -- it's not his money. Let's hope reality hits the two i-bankers playing public servant like a ton of bricks once the calendar reaches July 6.

And it would be nice if we downstaters had gotten something in return when they redid the Bills' stadium. Must be nice for Bruno to cry poor while renaming publicly renovated stadiums after megalomaniacal team owners.

Posted by Mike on June 26, 2005 08:46 PM

How much are the owners, players and employees of the teams putting up for the construction of new stadiums? Why should there be any public financing if the owners, players and employees are not sharing these costs? It would seem fair to require owners to put up 2 dollars for every dollar put up by their employees, players and fans who wish to contribute. Also require that public financing contribute no more than 50% of the total cost. For that 50% investment, half of all profits from ticket sales at all events should go into the general fund. If owners don't want to share the profits, let them build stadiums with their own money.

Posted by michael spurek on June 28, 2005 04:07 PM

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