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

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.