Is Yankee Stadium’s Rough Start Bad Karma?

Today’s Wall Street Journal takes an intense look at the new Yankee Stadium with an article entitled, “Yankee Stadium’s Ugly Start : Cheap Home Runs, Empty Seats and Lopsided Losses Have Some Asking, ‘Can a Stadium Fail?‘” It’s a well done piece which looks closely at what (overall) make a stadium succeed. However, the article does not mention the destruction of one and a half Parks in the green-space challenged South Bronx or the axing of the 400 trees in the creation of the new Yankee Stadium. Or the fact that the team could have just played elsewhere for a year and then rebuilt on the site of the former Stadium (as had been done in the past) but that would not happen in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New York because corporations are not supposed to encounter any difficulty or inconvenience. Just every day people.

From the article:

The new Yankee Stadium has seemed cursed from the beginning, as if Babe Ruth disapproved of the abandonment of the house he built. That it opened during a recession, with a major-league-high $72.97 average price for a nonpremium ticket (up 76% over 2008, according to Team Marketing Report) has created contempt among fans who otherwise love the team. “They don’t have a good enough team to charge those prices,” says 35-year-old fan Jeff Burrows of Brooklyn, who toured the park recently with his father. “They’ve made almost every mistake you can make,” says Roger Noll, a professor of economics emeritus at Stanford. “There’s nothing that’s been as unpopular as this.”

And then… who pops up at the end of the article? NYU President John Sexton, no stranger to destruction of old, charming and neighborhood-oriented New York.

Some Yankee fans are optimistic. John Sexton, president of New York University and a longtime season-ticket holder, says the park isn’t perfect — he wishes Monument Park weren’t so hidden from view. Still, he says, “In five years we may be looking back on this and saying we’re glad we did it.”

Previous WSP Blog Entry: Play Ball: How New York City Destroyed Two Bronx Parks

Privatized Stadium in Public Parks – On Yankee Stadium, the Bloomberg Administration and that Luxury Suite

the sign for the former macombs dam parkThe Bloomberg Administration agreed to obliterate one and a half parks (and 400 trees) in the green space-challenged South Bronx with the City’s highest asthma rates in order to provide the Yankee Corporation the land for a new stadium. More and more details about this “deal” keep being revealed and it’s just as murky as you might expect.

The Bloomberg Administration aggressively pursued a bigger luxury suite and gave the Yankees 250 parking spots and three advertising billboards in their push to wrangle this. This is on top of already having given them city (park) land to put their stadium on and allocated taxpayer funds for the questionable rebuilding of the two parks.

The New York Times reported on this Sunday 11/30 in “City Pressed Hard for Use of Yankee Luxury Suite:”

The city’s push for the perks has been known, at least broadly speaking, since Mr. [Richard] Brodsky [New York State Assemblyman] began raising questions earlier this year about the stadium deals for the Yankees and Mets, from whom the city also secured a luxury box. But the e-mail messages offer a revealing snapshot of the behavior and marching orders of the people involved in the deal for the construction of the billion-dollar Yankee Stadium.

Also:

“There’s this ‘Alice in Wonderland’ quality to the question of, what is the public interest here and who’s protecting it?” said Mr. Brodsky, who conducted a hearing on the issue of public financing of sports stadiums this summer. “We can’t find the money for the M.T.A., or schools, or hospitals, and these folks are used to the perks and good things of life, and expect them.”

It’s an interesting read and is quite revealing about the methods of the Bloomberg Administration. At the same time, the city gave so much to the Yankees. It would have been great if they had fought so hard to keep our two Bronx city parks in place. It’s just another example of how arrogant and out of touch Mayor Michael Bloomberg is, always ready to put the wishes of private developers and corporations over people and their communities.

Previous entry: Play Ball: How New York City Destroyed Two Bronx Parks

In the News: “Green Thievery in the South Bronx”

the sign for the former macombs dam parkIt continues to astound me that New York City and the Yankees Corporation got away with destroying TWO parks in the South Bronx to construct a new Yankee stadium.

Imagine Yankees management years ago looking across the way from the current stadium at those pesky parks, Macombs Dam and John Mullaly. These two parks comprised 20 acres, including 377 trees, grass, tracks, a pool and fields – all in the way of a new stadium.

Envision that call being placed to someone in the Giuliani administration(when the idea was first floated). Yankees official states: “Hey the Yankees corporation needs a new stadium and we’ve found a perfect location which will enable us to play in the old stadium and then move into the new one seamlessly.” The city official asks where? Yankee management says, “Those two parks across the street.”

It’s hard to imagine someone not just laughing at this notion. Alas, they did not and this proposal was pushed through under the tenuous idea that the Bronx would get more parkland. And then there was the destruction of the trees. We know how important trees are in a city, particularly mature trees. They help clean the air. Trees provide homes for wildlife and are an important part of the ecosystem.

Isn’t our Parks Department supposed to be stewards for the existing trees and parkland?

Do Parks Commissioners take any kind of oath or is Commissioner Benepe really just a privatizing businessman under Mayor Bloomberg?

The New York Times reported on the status of that parkland in a weekend Editorial, “Green Thievery in the South Bronx:”

“Many promises were made two years ago when the New York Yankees grabbed prime parkland in the South Bronx to build a new stadium. …

The Yankees took more than 20 acres of contiguous parkland – from Macombs Dam and John Mullaly Parks – to build a stadium adjacent to the original one. Hundreds of mature trees were felled, and even though thousands of new ones have been planted, the area feels like the construction zone it is. … the city, which is paying for the new green spaces, is moving too slowly.”

That the Yankees “took” the Parks isn’t quite accurate. They were given this space. The city is paying for the replacement parkland, NOT the team. They are also getting “hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies” and are asking for more.

The article relays that while the Yankees are ready to open their new stadium on schedule next year; the parks are delayed and will open two years later than promised. The New York Times, always ready to laud Mayor Bloomberg, leaves his name out of this critical piece, as well as any mention of Parks Commissioner Benepe, referring to those responsible for the delay under the vague title “the city.”

As the editorial continues, “The Yankees are the richest team in baseball. Their neighbors are among the poorest in the nation. The city should move faster to provide substitutes for the healthy green spaces that have been taken away.”

You think? They should have never have “been taken away” to begin with.

Previous entries on this here.

NY Times: Time and Cost Rise for Yankee Stadium Parks (in the Bronx)

Today’s New York Times has an article by Timothy Williams which covers the delay and increase in cost in rebuilding parkland that was sacrificed for the Yankees’ new stadium in the Bronx.

The Bronx lost part of John Mullaly Park (18.5 acres) and ALL of Macombs Dam Park(28.4 acres). Yes. ALL. of. this. park. (and part of another) was given away in the Bronx so that the Yankees, a private corporation, could build their new stadium there. It tells you something about the climate in our city under CEO Mayor Bloomberg that this idea was initiated – and achieved.

As the article notes, “The stadium is being financed by the Yankees with city subsidies, while the eight new parks for the South Bronx, which range in size from .24 acre to 8.9 acres, are being paid for by the city.” (We give away 2 parks to a private corporation and the City pays to rebuild them.) The cost is now projected to be $174 million; the original estimate was $95.5 million.

Williams writes: “Some residents have been critical of the trade-off. While Macombs Dam and Mullaly Parks were almost contiguous stretches of grass and trees amid the concrete topography of the South Bronx, the replacement parks are small parcels scattered around the area. The sites include sports fields atop a planned stadium parking garage and a park along the Harlem River, which is on the opposite side of the Major Deegan Expressway.”

The original parks housed tennis and basketball courts, a running track, baseball and soccer fields as well as 400 trees – all eliminated for the Yankees Corporation. Yankee Stadium is scheduled to open on time in April 2009. The parks, which were supposed to be up and accessible at the same time, will not be ready for close to a year later.

Bronx resident Anita Antonetty told the Times, “We’ve lost our biggest park, and what we’ve been reduced to is this parking lot. … We’ve lost hundreds of trees that were 80 years old, and now there’s this monstrosity of cement across the street from where people live.”

NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe was not available for comment for the Times’ article.