Yankees’ Subsidy Deal Gets Stranger and Stranger

The Yankee Stadium subsidy package is the gift that keeps on giving. If you’re the Yankees.

Following up on his tour of the smelly swath of plastic turf the Yankees installed in the South Bronx after turning actual park land into a stadium construction site, Neil deMause reports in the Village Voice that a yanksbill.jpgclause in the Yanks’ lease agreement with the city — initiated by Mayor Rudy Giuliani and extended by Mayor Bloomberg — allows reimbursements for stadium "planning" expenses. As of 2005, deductions include apparent write-offs for food, alcohol, and thousands of dollars in schwag, like caps and souvenir crystal baseballs.

Seems the Yankees haven’t been spending enough on stadium "planning" to take full advantage of the rent break, so to justify additional deductions, the club began handing over loads of receipts to the Parks Department.

[W]hereas the earlier receipts were limited to stadium-related expenses — although questionable ones, like the $700-an-hour lobbyist bills and restaurant tabs for engineering consultants — by late 2005, the files had begun to look like those of an organization hastily trying to spend down its account by billing the public for everything but the kitchen sink.

Here’s a sample itemized list, courtesy Good Jobs New York:

  • $31,364 in food and bar tabs at Yankee Stadium for two nights of the 2005 post season
  • $1,978 for a dozen crystal baseballs
  • $8,600 in "rivalry" wool caps for home games against Boston and Toronto
  • $1037 for 550 logo baseballs for an annual sales meeting
  • $2,037 in gifts for corporate clients like Sony, Ford and Continental Airlines
  • $25,000 for office space near Newark Airport
  • $10,145 for press room rental
  • $1,948 for party for Verizon
  • $78 to ship batting helmets from Yankee Stadium to Tropicana Field

Images of actual receipts are here, here and here.

GJNY has issued a media release calling for an audit by City Comptroller (and potential mayoral candidate) William Thompson — something the city has not done since 2004, when it examined the Yankees’ stadium planning costs from 2001 and 2002.

"Considering the impact the new Yankee Stadium has had on the taxpayers and the neighborhood," reads the GJNY statement, "Good Jobs New York calls on Comptroller William Thompson to bring up to date all audits of the team to ensure no improper expenditures were in fact borne by the taxpayers."

  • Real New Yorker

    Brad Aaron you must not be from here. Real New Yorkers (not you pathetic Mets fans) would happily give a big pile of our taxes to the Yankees. They give us real value. The city spends billions on crap that doesn’t provide any happiness to hardworking tax payers. The Yankees are true heroes. Go Yankees!

  • Brad’s southern accent aside, Real New Yorker touches on an interesting point that I’ve been thinking about a lot since returning from Bogota, Colombia. What are the things that make us proud of our city? What makes us identify as New Yorkers? What sort of subsidies help strengthen a citizen’s attachment to his or her city?

    Bogota, they told us, was sort of the Cleveland of South America for a lot of years — a kind of down and out city with not much going for it.

    Then Enrique Penalosa came in as Mayor with a focus on the urban environment. He cranked up the Ciclovia event in which Bogotans open their streets every Sunday to cyclists, skaters, joggers, vendors and even dance classes. Ciclovia has emerged as a defining event for the city. This reclamation and celebration of public space, of the city itself, is Bogota to a lot of people. People really identify with it and revel in it.

    Likewise, Bogotans convey a strong sense of pride for their Trans Milenio bus system and the network of bike lanes and parks that they’ve built throughout the city. These things define the vision that Bogota has for itself and in a more practical sense bring Bogota residents together across all kinds of class and race lines.

    When I was trying to think of what we’ve got in NYC that defines us and brings us together in a similar celebratory way to Ciclovia, the first thing that came to mind was the Yankees.

    Yet, personally, I find rooting for the Yankees about as appealing as cheering on Microsoft or Chase Manhattan. And handing over millions in subsidies to the Yankees Corporation as a reward to “hard-working tax payers” is nothing sort of insane. To my mind, Bogota has definitely got the right idea. In that much poorer city, they subsidize physical improvements that have direct and tangible benefits to every citizen every time he or she steps outside. Lots of businesses and private interests benefit from these subsidies too.

  • nobody

    Real New Yorker – so, what you’re saying is, that the the owners of the Yankees can defraud the taxpayer?

  • lee

    c’mon we’ve all spent enough time on the tubez to know that “real new york” means a place that is dirty, crime ridden, and “tough” and just accepting that everyone, especially those with power do as they please and everyone else should accept it because that’s just the way it is.
    “Phony new York” is populated by intellectually elitist outsiders who want to change things, (ooh change is scary!)

  • I may not have been born here, but I’ve been paying taxes in New York City since 1983, and the Yankees do nothing to improve my quality of life. Real New Yorkers don’t allow themselves to get mugged by a bunch of multi-millionaires!

  • Eric

    Yeah, RNY’er, you’re right on. If we didn’t hand overall that money that could be going to schools or mass transit or better healthcare or countless other unimportant non-sports things, why, the Yankees might just pack up and move someplace where the value of their franchise would be one-third of what it is because they play in NYC.

    Good thing we don’t make MSG pay any property taxes, or they might leave too.

    And good thing we’re giving away the farm to lure Bruce Ratner’s Nets to Brooklyn, ’cause they’d surely want to stay in New Jersey where they’re losing $40 million a year if we didn’t bend over to give them an arena where they’ll turn a $60 million or $70 million a year profit – and kicking taxpaying property owners off their land to give it tax free to Ratner, too.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I’m from here, and the Yankees have never brought me any happiness. Neither have the Mets. On the other hand, I did get a kick out of watching Pete Sampras at the US Open in 2003. Not enough to want them to get that much of my tax money, though.

    This is corruption, pure and simple. Fifty years from now anyone (“Real New Yorker” or not) who looks back on it will see right away what a dumb idea it was.

    Responding to Aaron’s comment about what unites us and makes us proud of our city, I always think of the subway, the Brooklyn Bridge, Greenwich Village and Central Park. Then when I read about some politician who thinks they’re too good for the subway, I wonder “Do we really live in the same city?”

    In the same vein as Aaron’s comment, see this New York Magazine article about the Dodgers (linked from this Atlantic Yards Report post).

  • b

    I’m not sure I get the value (or profitability for that matter) in the Yankee organisation if they have have to count on the playoffs to cover their operating costs and HUGE payroll. Having that further covered by subsidies (i.e. your tax dollars at work) deflates any value they could possibly bring to the hood. At least the Mets new stadium will only eat away the Iron Triangle in Queens and not public parkland. Mets still rule and SALY, while I am still still bitter, the Yanks will still be the BIGGEST choke artists since losing 4 in a row after going 3 up to the Sawx. God bless them.

  • Ace

    The tip should have been an even $100.

  • b

    Yankees Suck!


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