Two new baseball stadiums for New York!
December 27, 2001 7:57 PM   Subscribe

Two new baseball stadiums for New York! At a time when NYC seems to be barreling towards huge debts, public workers aren't getting raises and the city needs to be rebuilt, the Yankees and the Mets -- two of the richest teams with the highest attendence -- are getting brand new stadiums courtesy of the city budget. Giuliani wants the deal finished as he leaves office.
posted by argybarg (42 comments total)
Just to add a few voices, notice how positive the New York Daily News' spin is on the same story. And the good folks at Baseball Primer have already fired up their debate over this issue.

And, yes, Yankee Stadium would be demolished.
posted by argybarg at 8:01 PM on December 27, 2001

I saw this in the paper this morning and had the same thoughts. The Mets and Yanks have both spent a TON of money signing free agents, and the Mets may spend more on juan gonzalez, if they haven't already. Yet, Giuliani wants the city to help pay for a lot of it, plus the city construction cost of roads, etc. Sounds like a load of crap to me, but then again, I'm not the biggest baseball fan, so what do i know?
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:16 PM on December 27, 2001

From the article:

But final word on the plan belongs to incoming mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said the stadium package is a good one because New York is a ``first-class city,'' that deserves ``first-class facilities.''

I've been to New York and let me tell you that the people who provide adult favors there are not first class.
posted by ( . )( . ) at 8:18 PM on December 27, 2001

This will probably happen because the Yankees seem to always get what they want and Rudy doesn't have much more tiime to spend his political capital as Mayor. I just hope in modernizing that they don't build a swimming pool in the outfield. The idea of having to watch George in a swimsuit is too horrifying to contemplate.
posted by colt45 at 9:10 PM on December 27, 2001

I saw no mention of this in either of the linked articles, but in most cities, when politicians decide that the taxpayers should foot the bill for a new stadium for the millionaires to play in, there's a public vote. That seems fair. It'd be fun, during the campaign for such a vote, to hear the owners of the Yankees and Mets crying poverty.

Using public money to pay for a pro-sports stadium seems like a terrible idea, especially in New York, where I'm guessing there might be more worthy uses for the money.
posted by diddlegnome at 9:31 PM on December 27, 2001

I suppose we're all supposed to ignore the huge amount of money teams such as these bring into the city by just being there - amounts which will MORE than offset the amount of money being put out by taxpayers in the long run.
posted by RevGreg at 9:38 PM on December 27, 2001

Love the Yankess or hate them, if you think they should play anywhere other than Yankee Stadium, you probably deserve to be bitch slapped.
posted by mrbula at 9:42 PM on December 27, 2001

No, RevGreg, we shouldn't, but the owners of these teams ought to have to prove their case -- in other words, prove what you're asserting -- before the taxpayers have to shell out this kind of money.
posted by diddlegnome at 9:45 PM on December 27, 2001

"we shouldn't ignore the teams' contributions," I should have said.
posted by diddlegnome at 9:48 PM on December 27, 2001

During the heated debate over government subsidies for new baseball and football stadiums in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I remember hearing an economics guru talk about a city paying for stadiums is a false economy. The premise was that people who spend disposable income on sporting events will simply spend that money elsewhere if the sporting events are not available.

Oh, and yes, Pittsburgh did get those new stadiums.
posted by sexymofo at 9:51 PM on December 27, 2001

I'm reminded of the Red Sox buyout that just took place, and I can't help but feel that, especially in this day and age, sports teams are nothing more than corporations. Corporate entertainers, like nothing more than any major TV conglomerate, Movie Theatre chain, or amusement park. The question that should be asked is, would the city of New York give as much leeway and funding for a six flags in central park? Should corporations get this handout, i.e. is it a fair handout? This leads into so many questions as far as baseball's struggles. I.E. you have this story with the yanks and mets vs. the white sox venturing to sell the name of Comisky Park.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:13 PM on December 27, 2001

The City Of NY Independent Budget Office's report - Double Play: The Economics And Financing Of Stadiums For The Yankees And Mets seems to indicate that this would not have a great positive impact on the city economically. While researching this, I came across The Ten Dumbest Reasons To Build a New Stadium . Number One is classic.
posted by colt45 at 10:22 PM on December 27, 2001

I can't help but feel that, especially in this day and age, sports teams are nothing more than corporations.

Were they ever more than corporations? Maybe it's just because I have never been a sports fan, but professional sports have always seemed like another arm of the entertainment industry.

Seattle just did something pretty similar to this. There are now two big stadiums (one football, one baseball) where the Kingdome used to sit. The way I heard it explained, the city of Seattle chipped in on the expenses, but Paul Allen gets to keep all the profits.

posted by Mars Saxman at 10:26 PM on December 27, 2001

I think the "money stadiums will bring in to the city" argument is total bunk. When they stick the stadium in an impoverished section of town, there is little to no residual effect beyond people charging exorbitant parking fees to put your car on their lawn. Otherwise people go to the stadium/arena, watch their event and get the hell out of town (who can blame them?). I've personally seen this at the Miami Arena and Staples Center (LA). The "halo" effect basically extends to the fence around the parking lot and no further.

The ones making money are the same suspects: the owners.

In the NFL, both Jack Kent Cooke and Bob Kraft built their stadiums with their own darn money and in the case of the Redskins, they are one of the most cashflow-positive teams in the league. (the only concessions I can assume both teams got from their hometowns were zoning changes, much more preferable than outright extortion I would think)
posted by owillis at 10:27 PM on December 27, 2001

Number One is classic.

Hoo! It sure is. The others ain't bad, either. Nice one, colt45.
posted by diddlegnome at 10:30 PM on December 27, 2001

Ay, Colt45, Instead of finding #1 as classic, i find that sad and disturbing as hell. Even more disturbing is that I have no idea who "Marty Cordova" is. I had no idea that this many stadiums were getting public funding. Even at a vote, I find it pretty horrific. The money could be so much better spent than helping millionaire whiners have nicer locker rooms.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:36 PM on December 27, 2001

According to Giuliani on his last appearance as mayor on Letterman tonight, the cost of the construction of the stadia themselves will be split 50/50 with the teams, and New York state will pick up the tab for the necessary infrastructure changes and improvements. Given that the city owns both the highly rundown Yankees and the crumbling-foundationed Shea, and good money is being thrown after bad by providing maintenance and repairs on the two antiquated buildings, the taxpayers may actually come out ahead on this deal.

And the citizens of NYC will certainly not be screwed anywhere near as hard as the folks in Pittsburgh who paid 100% for two new, ugly stadia in the same run down, unimproved part of town as the old ugly one, even after we said that we didn't want to.
posted by Dreama at 10:39 PM on December 27, 2001

revgreg, I'm not sure how they bring in money. There is a fixed amount of disposable income at any given time, it has to go somewhere. It is just an entertainment dollar. Does the city subsidize movie theaters or broadway shows?
posted by chrismc at 10:45 PM on December 27, 2001

New York is such a big market that it would certainly be possible to find entrepreneurs willing to put up the capital for one or even two new stadiums. It would just be harder to raise a lot of private money than simply get the easy tax break from the government, so they don't do it.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:14 PM on December 27, 2001

the cost of the construction of the stadia themselves will be split 50/50 with the teams

The Yankees just got paid $49 million for radio rights, and gave Jason Giambi $120 million. I really think Mr. Steinbrenner could build his own stadium. I don't know why towns let these owners do this to them, especially since unlike a lot of the teams out there there's no way the Yankees could threaten to move out of New York.
posted by owillis at 11:19 PM on December 27, 2001

when politicians decide that the taxpayers should foot the bill for a new stadium for the millionaires to play in, there's a public vote

not the case in new york city - when Giuliani used tax money to build two minor league stadiums in New York (in Coney Island and Staten Island), it didn't go up for a public vote. When he was asked about why there wasn't a referendum, he said that New Yorkers would never let it happen.
posted by panopticon at 11:27 PM on December 27, 2001

Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit

If I ever live in LA, I'll be damn proud there's no pro football team in the metro area, assuming that's still the case.
posted by mlinksva at 11:43 PM on December 27, 2001

there's no way the Yankees could threaten to move out of New York

In 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants moved to the West Coast, and a lot of New Yorkers were ready to string up the people responsible. Some of them are probably still pissed off about it. Think a travesty like that couldn't happen again? I wouldn't bet on it.
posted by diddlegnome at 12:21 AM on December 28, 2001

I won't be surprised if somehow 9/11 makes its way into the debate to increase backing for this undertaking. I can already see it: "What better way to fight terrorism than to upgrade America's favorite pastime? If we fail to rebuild these stadiums, then the terrorists have already won."

But since I won't be paying for it, I say more power to 'em. Besides, it's not like the city's taxing its citizens; the money would only otherwise be going toward other programs that would have as little an impact on a New Yorker as two new stadiums.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em: embrace both teams and call yourself a Mankees or Yets fan. Don't worry yourself about the silly name either; no one outside of New York gives a shit anyhow. I'll tell ya, that Subway Series last year had about the appeal of watching someone play chess against himself.

To the fans: The amount a team can spend on itself is a handicap. Where's the honor in cheering for a team that has the advantage? While you're at it, go cheer for the golfers who tee off at the women's tee or use multiple mulligans, the sprinter who gets a second headstart, or the basketball team with able-bodied players competing against wheel-chair-ridden opponents. Where's the honor?

As far as tradition is concerned, who cares! The only people who'll really care are those with fond memories. Sorry gramps, there never was integrity in the game (albeit some examples, even modern [sic] ones), and the quality of the game will only decline like capitalism intends. What about the tradition of the Native American soil on which you reside? Yeah, gramps, you sure are silent now....go strap on another pair of Oops-I-Crapped-My-Pants. My generation bucks tradition in the name of creating our own legacies for future generations to buck themselves.
posted by Mach3avelli at 12:33 AM on December 28, 2001

Think a travesty like that couldn't happen again? I wouldn't bet on it.

Point. But with baseball's terrible decade, I'm willing to bet no team leaves New York for at least 10 years.

Mach3avelli - good post. Death to the old! Shouldn't they be soylent green by now?
posted by owillis at 1:04 AM on December 28, 2001

Ay, Colt45, Instead of finding #1 as classic, i find that sad and disturbing as hell. Even more disturbing is that I have no idea who "Marty Cordova" is.

UfezJones - That's why I said it was a classic without saying what kind of classic it was. It is either classically sad or classically funny, depending on your mood or sense of humor. My response was mixed. Either way, it is a classic example of the owner's willingness to find no level too low to which to stoop when it comes to money. Marty Cordova. There is no reason to be disturbed if you don't know him.

Somehow I foresee a twist on the Marty Cordova ploy that UfezJones was disturbed by fitting in well with 9.11, Mach3avelli.

Thanks, diddlegnome.
posted by colt45 at 1:34 AM on December 28, 2001

revgreg, I'm not sure how they bring in money. There is a fixed amount of disposable income at any given time, it has to go somewhere.

Yes, but the fixed disposable income is NOT necessarily disposed of in NYC. Not everybody lives in the city - believe it or not, many sports fans actually travel to see games. Hell, I drove 175 miles in 15 inches of snow last year just to go to a hockey game at Nassau Coliseum and my one friend's family is driving well over 900 miles to go see a football game next fall. The money for food, lodging, gas, souveniers, etc. certainly would not have been spent where it was had those facilities not been there and like it or not those dollars mean jobs and tax revenue that would otherwise not exist. Yeah, it's a tangled web and yeah, player salaries are out of freakin' control but the fans aren't saying no...
posted by RevGreg at 1:53 AM on December 28, 2001

The major-league team where I live has a few dozen buses parked outside the venue every game. People come on tour deals from a few hundred miles around, and stay in local hotels and eat in local restaurants, and often do a bit of shopping before heading home. I doubt that the cash they spend offsets the millions that the players who are from other places take out of this city, but there are a good number of players on other teams that are from here that will wind up spending their post-playing careers here investing the millions they've made. So in the long term it balances out.

I, too, have a reflexive distaste for subsidizing guys who make money faster than I could shovel bundles of hundreds, but if it it's any consolation to all you "WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?!?!?!" types, the cities that have lost sports franchises have failed to become worker's paradises. Hm. Probably not much consolation after all.

What it finally comes down to is that the pro-sports voter block is much too powerful for any politician to ignore. As a person who could happily spend my entire remaining life without seeing, hearing about, and most importantly paying for anything remotely athletic, (other than playing fetch with my dog) I am always bemused by people who spend two days pay to spend 3 hours watching a bunch of millionaires jostle each other, but I bow to the will of the majority. I suspect that all too many fans, deprived of their local teams, would re-direct their entertainment dollars to way more beer than would be good for them, and I would rather endure mildly lubricated spectators than seriously pissed bar flies.
posted by BGM at 3:07 AM on December 28, 2001

I'm sorry but I am definitely against this. I think there are a plethora of far more worthy ways of spending that taxpayer money. Especially at a time like this, with the current financial and political atmosphere, I am sure that other ways of spending that money will prove to be far more beneficial to that city.

Maybe I am a bit biased, since I have always found it very irritating how cities are willing to shell out all that money for a sport team (and the fact that I don't like baseball). Here in Florida they are going through the same or at least were a month ago, not sure where that stands right now. But last I heard it didn't go through. Some people and political figures wanted to subsidize the building for a new stadium for the Marlins. And I could guarantee you that within 3-4 years of something like that happening, there would once again be the cries of poverty from the owners.

I feel that if a sports team (being how they are pretty much a corporation) aren't able to maintain themselves, we need to evaluate if they really should be there to begin with.
posted by oneiros at 4:18 AM on December 28, 2001

We can only speculate on the nature of the kind of currency coming in as a direct result of a new stadium so saying it will offset the initial cost is naive.

Secondly, the #1 reason not to build a new stadium is indeed sad, but as I speak now some young person is very ill of cancer but we just never hear of it. Imagine the kind of cash that family received for allowing that "Public Announcement" to air. Oh and Marty was pretty big four of five years ago.
posted by ( . )( . ) at 5:06 AM on December 28, 2001

There has never been an independant study which supports the claim that taxpayer-funded sports arenas pay for themselves. Considering traffic jams, police overtime, and other infrastructure tie-ups, public-financing of sports arenas is essentially just another way of socializing the risk and privatizing the profits.

I love the Yankees, always have. But it turns my stomach when these multi-millionaires come begging.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:33 AM on December 28, 2001

Studies have shown that publicly financed stadiums do not have economic benefits (except to the owners, of course). You can make the "quality of life" argument, since that's hard to quantify.

At least the New York owners are kicking in something. Here, we're paying for a new stadium for the Detroit Lions. (Pause for snickers.) Evidently the Ford family just doesn't have enough money to pay for their own stadium, although their car company does have the money to pay for the naming rights.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:03 AM on December 28, 2001

As others have stated, virtually every economist who has ever studied the issue has determined that the financial benefits of a new sports facility are minimal.

As far as I'm concerned, the public financing of stadiums is a travesty. The government subsidizes billionaire owners and millionaire players by paying for these stadiums. Many fans and sportswriters complain about prices going up at the ballpark because of higher player salaries, which is nonsense, but clearly citizens do pay for owner and player benefits with their taxes.

However, the fact that some ballclubs have gotten free new ballparks puts other ballclubs who haven't gotten free new ballparks at a disadvantage. For that reason, teams like the Marlins really do need public help in building a new stadium to be competitive. Once you've started a bad trend like public financing of stadiums, it's hard to stop.

The Yankees, however, are clearly not a team that needs a free new ballpark to be competitive.
posted by gspira at 9:22 AM on December 28, 2001

"Sports, Jobs and Taxes: Are New Stadiums Worth the Cost?" by Roger G. Noll (professor of economics at Stanford University) and Andrew Zimbalist (professor of economics at Smith College) "Building a stadium is good for the local economy only if a stadium is the most productive way to make capital investments and use its workers... A new sports facility has an extremely small (perhaps even negative) effect on overall economic activity and employment. No recent facility appears to have earned anything approaching a reasonable return on investment. No recent facility has been self-financing in terms of its impact on net tax revenues. Regardless of whether the unit of analysis is a local neighborhood, a city, or an entire metropolitan area, the economic benefits of sports facilities are de minimus."

I think the people's money should be spent for public works like schools and hospitals, and not on playgrounds for professional sports and their fans.
posted by Carol Anne at 10:14 AM on December 28, 2001

as someone who hates the yankees, i didnt think i could hate them more, but if they demolished the house that Ruth built i could only hope that they get the Bambino's curse for the next hundred years or so.
posted by tsarfan at 10:52 AM on December 28, 2001

As long as Joe Six-Pack gets his sports fix why should he care about schools?

Just to pick one insultingly sneering sentence out of an entire post that drips with condescension. You know, it's crazy, but true: one can be a sports fan and care about schools and public funds allocations and all sorts of high-minded pointy-headed stuff! But why should Percy Highbrow care about what a sports fan would think? It's just easier to pick up the widest brush possible and tar away. I suppose we should also make sure to publicly defund "playgrounds" such as NPR stations and opera houses too.
posted by Skot at 10:56 AM on December 28, 2001

New York state will pick up the tab for the necessary infrastructure changes and improvements.

As a resident of the state of NY, though not the city, I'd just like to remind my fellow-citizens that this is the same bunch of political hooligans who couldn't even pass a friggin' budget last year & who are now telling schools & hospitals, especially upstate, that, "Well, you know, with terrorism and all, not to mention the recession, we just can't be handing out money to anyone who asks."
posted by barkingterrier at 10:59 AM on December 28, 2001

I've been to New York and let me tell you that the people who provide adult favors there are not first class.

Good point, ass pimples!
posted by frykitty at 11:21 AM on December 28, 2001

Hey, our current President made his fortune out of screwing taxpayers for a new stadium! I'd hate to think that anyone here is suggesting that our COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF made his money dishonestly...would we? (take notes, file reports at Justice Dept.)

Just remember: if the Yankees don't get their new stadium, then the terrorists have already won.
posted by solistrato at 11:58 AM on December 28, 2001

where will the obsessed and infantile fans do when the Cubs run off to Tampa because the mayor there will be offering a sweeter sweetheart deal?

Well, see, now you're talking about a team that actually matters. Totally different situation, especially when you consider that Wrigley Field will last forever, so why would the Cubbies ever need a new stadium? (As an infantile but usually not obsessed fan of the team, I also believe the Cubs will someday win the World Series, which seems every bit as realistic.)
posted by diddlegnome at 4:57 PM on December 28, 2001

I, for one, would rather see the money go to tax breaks for the wealthy. Then all wealthy New Yorker's would benefit, rather than just baseball-related wealthy New Yorkers.
posted by electro at 6:51 PM on December 28, 2001

"If the Yankees don't get a new stadium, then the terrorists...."

*runs away....*
posted by adampsyche at 7:26 PM on December 28, 2001

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