Surprising to nobody, really, sports stadiums are one of the biggest swindles of the 21st century.
New York Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, D-Westchester, released a report Tuesday that said the city of New York played games with the assessed value of the new Yankee Stadium to get tax breaks for the team.
A legislative report says the public is paying up and getting nothing in return but higher ticket prices. City and team: It’s not true
The report, by the Assembly Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee, which Brodsky chairs, also says the city promised the stadium project would create 1,000 permanent new jobs in order to win approval for massive public subsidies, and that the actual number of permanent new jobs being created is 15.
The report says the taxpayer price tag for building the stadium is somewhere between $550 million and $850 million. In exchange, Brodsky points out, the Yankees have raised ticket prices by orders of magnitude, something the city has made no effort to stop.
“The price of tickets to the new Yankee Stadium is a matter of legitimate public concern, given the enormous public subsidies involved,” Brodsky wrote.
The swindle works so well because there is always a second-string city somewhere who can be used as leverage (like when the Seattle Sonics got moved to BFE Oklahoma ). If city governments stood strong, the owners of the teams would end up financing the stadiums: the owners want to own a team, owners shouldn’t depend upon taxpayer largesse to fund the team’s building.
In this case, Mayor Bloomberg (and Rudy 9-11 before him) and the Yankees made all sorts of grandiose claims that the stadium would be a boon to the economy, and of course, it isn’t, and won’t be much different than the previous stadium, other than making more money for the owners.
[Sin Will Find You Out, somewhere near 54th Street, Hells Kitchen, who really remembers anymore. Scanned 35mm print, circa 1995]
I like this quote too:
Denny Hocking, who was an all-talk, no-hit utility infielder for the Minnesota Twins in 2002 when Forbes magazine published a report calling into question the claims of commissioner Bud Selig that Major League Baseball was losing money hand over fist.
“Gee,” Hocking said, “should I believe a magazine that spends 365 days a year researching finances, or a guy who has zero credibility?”
Some of the principals have changed in this case, but the principle is the same.