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January 14, 2009
NYC baseball stadium subsidies: Do I hear $1.8B?
Following today's release of the latest stadium subsidy estimates from the New York City Independent Budget Office, I've updated my Yankees and Mets stadium cost spreadsheet to update, at the end of the day, who's paying for what. New features include a shift to 2009 present value, and, for the first time, itemized sources for all the data listed therein. There will likely be further updates to this chart - a couple of items aren't converted to 2009 dollars, for example - but the big picture is starting to come into focus.
Note that these figures do include the teams' complete exemption from property taxes as a cost to the city (and benefit to the teams), a matter of huge controversy at today's hearing. (After the IBO counted the property-tax break in the "team savings" column but not the "city costs" column, Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber shot off an e-mail to reporters that this "shows that the allegation that the City is forgoing hundreds of millions of dollars in property tax revenue as a result of the deal is utter fiction.") The logic here is that if not for a complex sub-leasing deal for the land under their new stadiums, the Mets and Yankees would normally be required to start paying property taxes after about 20 years in their new homes, so being given a pass on that is effectively the same as the city stuffing wads of future benjamins into their waistbands.
With no further ado, some of the highlights of the revised charts:
- The Yankees' new stadium is now the most expensive ever even imagined, coming in at a staggering $2.3 billion. That includes its attendant parking garages and replacement parkland, but even the stadium construction budget alone is incredible, now standing at $1.56 billion.
- Of that, the public - city, state, and federal taxpayers - are now covering just shy of $1.2 billion, by far the largest stadium subsidy ever. In fact, even discounting the $417 million in property-tax breaks (if you're inclined to agree with Lieber), it's still the largest stadium subsidy ever. The Yankees, meanwhile, would be on the hook for just $670 million, after counting property-tax breaks.
- The Mets project is comparatively thrifty: a mere $830 million, though even that shatters the old record for priciest baseball park. Because it's cheaper, though, and the Mets demanded many of the same tax breaks as the Yankees, the team's total cost at the end of the day is astonishingly low: just $135 million, thanks to a panoply of givebacks that include property-tax breaks, parking-fee rebates, and revenue-sharing deductions courtesy of MLB. The rest is paid predominantly by - you guessed it - you the taxpayer, providing you're a taxpayer somewhere in the U.S. of A.
- Add 'em together and what do you got? Taxpayers will be paying $1.8 billion toward the new stadiums, while the teams will combine for just $805 million in costs. But it's not like the teams could afford to pay more or anything.
All this, of course, is assuming the city's Industrial Development Agency votes on Friday to approve $453 million in new bonds for the two stadiums. If the unthinkable happens and the IDA votes no, look for yet another revised chart over the weekend.