Winning Teams
August 26th, 2008

Whatever happens in their key series this week ( Mets vs. Phillies; Yankees vs. Red Sox), the teams’ front offices have clearly figured out what it takes to win in New York.

Season prices at Citi Field, the new home of the Mets, will nearly double from this year’s prices at Shea. The average price of a good seat (purchased on a season ticket) next year — Citi Field’s debut season — works out to about $495 a game, up from $276 this year. Comparable prices for Yankee games will soar even higher from $1,000 this year to $2,500 in the new Yankee Stadium in 2009. And prices are as up for the city’s (well New Jersey’s actually) pro football teams.

Discussing the price hikes, John Mara, co-owner of the Giants told the Times, “It’s impossible to build a stadium of this magnitude without public funding unless you do something significant with ticket prices or [seat licenses].”

We don’t presume to speak about what happens in the Meadowlands, but “without public funding”? That’s not quite the case here in New York City.

The Yankees and the Mets both got tax-exempt bonds for construction: $567 million for the Mets, $866 million for the Yankees. The Independent Budget Office estimated that would save the Yankees $144 million and the Mets $72 million. The saving for them means less tax revenues for programs for the rest of us.

When the deals for the new stadiums were announced in 2006, the city was excepted to contribute $164 million for infrastructure improvements such as new parks, sewer lines and roads around the new Yankee Stadium while the state would provide $74.7 million, most of it for new parking. The city’s costs for infrastructure improvements around the Mets stadium were pegged at $91 million, the state’s at $74 million.

The city also gave the Yankees 20.8 acres of public parkland in the Bronx on which to build their new pleasure palace. To make the community whole, the city promised to provide 24.5 acres of new recreational facilities and open space. Many residents have objected to their contribution to the wealthy sports franchise: They say the city and the Yankees took a large, open space surrounded by mature trees and will plan to replace its with sports fields and courts scattered in several locations farther from where people live, including on top of a parking garage.

The taxpayers — not the Yankees — pay for the new parks. And the costs keep going up. In August, 2006, the city put the price of the replacement parks at $95.5 million. In May, the Times reported the parks department now had upped the estimate to $174 million — and still rising. The new parks are way behind schedule as well.

“In a secretive, undemocratic process that climaxed in a lightning series of events in June 2005, … past and present officials helped the Yankees seize 22 acres of heavily used public parks and win development subsidies exceeding half a billion dollars,” a report from Good Jobs New York concluded.

The city’s largesse comes, even though, as Theresa Devine of the Independent Budget Office told City Council earlier this year, “There is broad consensus within the economics field that government subsidies for sports facilities are not an effective use of scarce public resources. There is little evidence that substantial subsidies to a sports facility generate sufficient economic activity that would not have occurred in the absence of the subsidy.”

By on August 26, 2008, 3:11 pm
In category: Gotham City,Parks,Public Finance | Comments Off on Winning Teams

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