The Bronx Is Burning Over Subsidized Stadium Parking

The people of the South Bronx will organize against the subsidized construction of parking garages for the new Yankee Stadium, one resident said yesterday.

17275060_8968f775f9_o.jpgAt a sparsely attended public hearing in Lower Manhattan, Margaret Collins of Save Our Parks told the New York City Industrial Development Agency (IDA) that a "barely contained rage" is simmering over the traffic the new stadium is expected to bring to the area. Surveys show that lack of recreational space and pollution are the top concerns in South Bronx neighborhoods, Collins said — problems that were exacerbated when the Yankees seized public park land for its stadium complex, and which could yet worsen once its proposed 9,000 parking spaces are put to use.

Though the new facility will have 5,000 fewer seats, and will be served by a new Metro-North station, current plans call for it to have 2,500 more parking spots than the existing stadium. Three new parking garages (of four originally planned) will be financed through $225 million in triple tax exempt bonds, if the IDA approves such action, at a public cost of some $8,000 per space. A vote could come as early as next Tuesday, September 11. The IDA board votes in closed session.

Noting the low turnout for the hearing, Collins — herself testifying with sleeping infant in tow — pointed out that most affected residents can not make it downtown for a meeting in the middle of a workday. She warned that lack of public attendance should not be confused with lack of public engagement. 

"The community is not sleeping on this question," Collins said.

Speaking after an unusual plea for access was presented to the IDA on behalf of Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr., Collins bristled that politicians had signed on to the stadium project without knowing what they were agreeing to. Carrion, a vocal stadium proponent, has been denied what his office termed "vital information" regarding its financing, even though he, like all borough presidents, has an appointee who serves on the IDA board.

The IDA is the financing arm of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. The IDA board is made up of 15 members and alternates, including City Planning Director Amanda Burden and Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff.

While she was outnumbered by IDA board members and staff, Collins was not alone in testifying against the project. Joyce Hogi, who has lived in the vicinity of Yankee Stadium for 30 years, objected to the "snarling traffic" that "consumes" the area, and said the new garages would amount to "induced demand" for otherwise unneeded parking, "providing an incentive to drive into an already overburdened neighborhood." Of the new Metro-North station, Hogi asked, "We spend millions on public transportation and now we plan to spend millions to encourage them not to take it?"

Hogi suggested public moneys would be better spent on upgrades to the Melrose Metro-North and 161st Street subway stations, which would benefit surrounding neighborhoods year-round.

Bettina Damiani, director of Good Jobs New York, said that the parking subsidy, if approved, would bring the public commitment to the new stadium to a total of approximately $795 million.

Photo: Michael Dietsch/Flickr

  • vnm

    Bravo Ms. Collins!

    The easiest, and by far the most fun, way to go to Yankee games that I have found is via the ferry, which goes to New Jersey and to various points in Manhattan before stopping at the stadium.

    All the induced parking would be expected to hurt the revenue of N.Y. Waterway and also Metro-North, right? Why were execs. from those organizations not standing side by side with Ms. Collins?

  • Eric

    It’s time for government to get out of the sports-subsidization business. It’s nothing but a colossal taxpayer rip-off. Enough is enough.

    If we need sports teams in order to feel pride in our city and boroughs, then we’re already in pretty big trouble, no?

    [Please don’t mistake me for an anti-sports snob. I have season tickets to two New York-area pro teams.]

  • John Hunka

    I feel like firing off a letter opposing the subsidy and the construction of the garages. Who should I contact?

  • Well… Dan Doctoroff in charge of both the EDC and the Long-Term Sustainability Office. Subsidizing traffic congestion with one hand and trying to reduce it with the other.

  • Larry Littlefield

    It appears that after two decades of threatening to move the Yankees to New Jersey, Steinbrenner has succeeded in forcing NYC to move New Jersey to the Bronx.

    I was rooting for NJ to get the Yankees so we wouldn’t have to pay. I’m a Met fan anyway, and a large share of the Yankee fans are from NJ. But NJ was smart enough not to pay.

  • mfs

    If the public gets to subsidize the Yanks, then we should also get to vote on the starting line-up. Seriously though, Carrion is just positioning himself for a mayoral run by trying to innoculate himself against the charge that he will build any project at any price, not the right project at the right price.

  • Christine Berthet

    This is outrageous!!!
    How many affordable appartements could be built for that kind of money?

    But that goes along the accepted concept that to make more money , Stadium owners reduce the number of low cost seats and increase the number of boxes . Boxes are used by rich people and according to the city’s definition of “need” rich people need more cars….

    By the way same logic on the far west side: Expensive appartements are bought by rich people and rich people “need” more parking…

    The public loses twice

  • ddartley

    Also, Hunka, try writing to your Borough President (and the other BPs too, why not?) Doctoroff’s boss Bloomberg, Amanda Burden, and all your friends who might also want to fire off a letter.

  • The IDA board meeting is open to the public. Anyone wanting to submit a comment on the Yankee parking garages I’d suggest sending it via e-mail ASAP to dshelley@nycedc.com, (and to GJNY if you’d like).

    The IDA Board is scheduled to vote on the proposed financing for the project this Tuesday, September 11th at 9:00am at 110 William Street in Lower Manhattan.

  • FYI on the stadium: It will have just 2000 fewer seats than the old stadium. Current plans call for a 53,000-seat facility with 1000 admitted for standing room. That’s 54,000 a game. Currently, Yankee Stadium holds around 56-57,000 depending upon the game. But your overall point still stands.

  • Benjamin, does the 54,000 total include the people in the luxury boxes?

  • By the way, I was listening to the game the other day on the radio and the announcers were going on and on about how the Yanks sell out every game they play at home and isn’t that amazing. Attendance couldn’t be higher, and hasn’t been higher. But parking is reduced this year because of the construction of the new stadium, and it doesn’t seem to be having any impact at all.

  • Allison Lack

    For the record, overall, the new stadium will have over 4,500 fewer seats than the current one. The current stadium has a seating capacity of 57,545 while the new one will have only 53,000 seats.

  • Jonathan

    What will be the schedule for the new Yankees Stadium Metro-North station trains? Will fans be forced to wait until 30-45 minutes after last pitch before MN trains depart?

    I suspect this alone will discourage many from taking MN when there is already superior and more frequent subway service.

  • Aaron,

    It’s a great point. If the current, larger Yankee Stadium sells out with less parking (substantially less during construction), where’s the need for more parking?

    Unfortunately, baseball attendance is somewhat dependent on team performance. The Yankees may have some leaner years where the availability of parking is necessary to draw fans to late season series against lamer teams.

    And, clearly, the Yankees are thinking not only about attendance totals, but also attendance makeup. They want fans from New Jersey.

    Contrast the situation with football, where the Giants have something like a 2,000 year waiting list for season tickets. There’s absolutely no reason to supply so many parking spaces for Giants stadium. If you lost a few people not willing to come by mass transit, you’d make them up with eager fans on the waiting list.

  • just sayin

    The new stadium has to have a lot parking because otherwise it’s not fair to all the rich people who want to attend but don’t like cities.

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