Yankee Stadium and Mets' Citifield

January, 2014

(updated, 2014) The Bloomberg Administration has awarded substantial subsidies and land use variances to both of New York’s major league baseball teams. The majority of our research is below is on the $1.2 billion in subsidies for the development of a new Yankee Stadium that is also having a negative impact on residents mostly due to the removal of over 24 arcres of park land for the new stadium and accompanying parking garages. The replacement of Shea Stadium with Citifield like Yankee Stadium, was heavily subsidized, but the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods was limited in comparison as the Mets chose to build its new stadium in an existing parking lot.

The New York Yankees persuaded city and state officials to covertly seize, for free and with no public hearing, more than 24 acres of public parkland across the street from the old stadium to serve as the site for the new ballpark that opened in 2009. In addition to free land and no rent payments, the Yankees received over $1 billion in tax-exempt financing and $500 million in city and state tax breaks. City taxpayers also bore the cost of demolishing the original stadium, replacing the lost parkland and other necessary infrastructure. The total public cost is estimated at $1.2 billion

South Bronx residents formed “Save Our Parks” and took the city and the Yankees to court to stop the plan, but lost. An on-going dilemma is the subsidies for parking garages for Yankee Stadium - especially the $237 million in civic-facility bonds that, due to fewer than expected customers (thanks to cheaper parking at a nearby mall, fewer seats at the new stadium and the opening of suburban-line train stop near the stadium), the bonds are in default. There is also controversy regarding the replacement parklands: park advocates report the development of the replacement parks are behind schedule and many will have artificial-turf playgrounds and some are located atop stadium parking garages.

Good Jobs New York has kept a close watch on the developments at Yankee Stadium and Mets' Citifield.  Click on the category to see a complete list of our research and analysis.

 

General Overview of the Yankee Stadium Project

Download Good Jobs New York's complete investigation on the abuse of public subsidies and disregard for community interest by the Yankees in these two reports:

 

September 2008 - PBS' Bill Moyers Journal covers the new Yankee Stadium Project  

The project passed through the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.  View project's Environmental Impact Statement and status of replacement parks.


Benchmarks of the project deal

The following chronicles the major legislative actions that cleared the way for approving land use and public financing for construction of the new stadium. Good Jobs New York was an active community advocate throughout the process.

In June 2005, the city's Economic Development Corporation, the Empire State Development Corporation, and the Yankees signed a Memorandum of Understanding detailing the subsidy and land-use commitments relating to building a new stadium, construction staging for the duration of the building phase, and parking garages.

The stadium and parking garages would be located on frequently used public parkland.  The New York State legislature quietly seized these parks in June, 2005, allowing the city to dispose of these properties to be used for the stadium and parking garages.

In March 2006-The board of the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) gave preliminary approval for the use of tax-exempt bonds, sales tax breaks, mortgage recording tax breaks, and a payment in-lieu-of taxes arrangement for the Yankee Stadium project.  View the project materials, including the cost-benefit analysis.  Read GJNY's testimony from the public hearing.

That same month, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) approved the allocation of $70 million for parking garages to be built on public parkland adjacent to Yankee Stadium.  ESDC also approved a $4.7 grant to the Yankees for future maintenance costs.  Read ESDC's General Project Plan.

4/5/2006-The City Council approved the land-use plan for the new Yankee Stadium.

4/10/2006-The City Council's Finance Committee held a public hearing regarding the use of PILOTs to pay back the stadium debt.  Read GJNY's testimony from the hearing.

4/19/2006-Members of the region's environmental, planning, and fiscal policy community request that the MTA amend its Capital Plan to ensure that a new Yankee Stadium Metro North station be built, but not at the expense of other transit projects.  The letter suggests that the $70 million approved by the state for construction of parking garages should be directed to pay for the new train station.

The New York Times had previously called on the Yankees to help finance the new train station, which "could diminish the need for expensive parking garages, and reduce air pollution and congestion, making for happier fans and healthier neighbors." Read the editorial.

4/25/2006-GJNY calls on Council Member David Weprin to postpone Wednesday's City Council Finance Committee vote on the stadium financing structure until it receives approval from the Internal Revenue Service.  Read the letter.

4/26/2006-The City Council approved the financing plan for the new stadium. See how each Council Member voted.

4/2006-A "Participation and Labor Force Mitigation and Community Benefits Program Related to the Construction of the New Yankee Stadium" was signed by Yankee President Randy Levine, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, and three members of the City Council's Bronx delegation. Click here to view the deal.

8/10/2006 - Manhattan State Supreme Court Judge Herman Kahn heard arguments from representatives of the New York Yankees and Save Our Parks, a community group suing the Yankees and the City to stop the project.  The lawyers for the Yankees argued that a delay in stadium construction would result in a$33 million in rent and $80 million in additional construction costs.  

The Internal Revenue Service issued a private letter ruling which determined that PILOTs qualify as "Generally Applicable Taxes," despite the fact that these funds are not collected at a uniform rate and would not be remitted to the city treasury.  It is also worth noting that the Bloomberg administration argued before the City Council Finance Committee in Spring of 2005 that PILOT payments are not "the equivalent of tax money."

The City Council approved the use of payments in-lieu-of taxes (PILOTs) collected from the Yankees to pay back the tax-exempt bonds issued for the stadium.  PILOTs are normally a way to reimburse the city for revenue lost due to a property tax exemption.  In the case of the new Yankee Stadium, these PILOTs would instead be used to service the debt on the tax-exempt bonds issued for the project in order to satisfy a federal requirement that these bonds be repaid with city tax revenue.

Both the land-use plan and the public financing for the Yankee Stadium project were approved.

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Subsidies continue, (2007-2011)

After successfully harvesting $1 billion in tax-payer subsidies and benefits to pay for a new stadium, in 2008 the Yankees requested a second round of financing, up to an additional $259,000,000 in city, state and federal tax-free financing and $111,900,000 in federally taxable (but city and state tax-exempt) bonds, along with $60,000,000 in tax-exempt refunding bonds. In addition, the team requested additional sales tax breaks for construction materials and an additional mortgage recording tax break. The IDA's cost/benefit analysis does not separate the costs of these additional tax breaks from the entire project, but author Neil deMause reported in January 2009 that the IDA estimated the additional sales tax subsidies will cost the city $5.1 million (which means it will cost the state an extra $7 million), the additional mortgage recording tax break will cost the city $6 million, and the city cost of the income taxes lost on the tax-free bonds will be $5.2 million. The state and federal costs of the tax-free bonds will be much higher. All of these costs are in addition to the more than $1 billion in taxpayer funds the Yankees have already received for their stadium.

View the IDA's 2009 cost/benefit analysis of additional bond for Yankee Stadium

On January 16, 2009 in a rushed vote, the IDA Board approved Yankees' and Mets' Request for additional tax-free financing. While most board members voted in favor of additional financing for the Yankees, John Graham, the alternate for Comptroller Thompson, voted against the proposal. In explaining his vote, he cited numerous concerns regarding previously unknown cost increases and questions about the project left unanswered by the IDA. 

In addition, Bernard Haber, the Queens Borough President’s appointee to the board, abstained from the Yankees vote. Mr. Haber questioned the hundreds of millions in cost increases for the Yankees project since the IDA board initially approved it in 2006.  The total vote was 11 in favor, one in opposition, and one abstention.

All members voted in favor of the additional financing for the Mets.

Read Good Jobs New York's testimony from the January 2009 public hearing, and view our factsheet evaluating the city's claim of project benefits.
 
Read more testimonies by us and our allies.

View Good Jobs New York's analysis of taxpayer costs of the new Yankee Stadium.

View an inventory of tax-payer subsidies for Yankee Stadium and its parking garages

* Rent Subsidy: Before the new stadium was built, the Yankees paid rent to the city and were permitted to deduct stadium maintenance costs. Under the current lease agreement, the Yankees no longer pay rent and the city no longer is responsible for maintenance costs.  GJNY argued that this may amount to a net loss of revenue for this city.  EDC officials responded:

"...the old stadium cost the City over $30 million to maintain in the past five years alone."
                                                --EDC Spokeswoman Janel Patterson in the New York Sun, February 8, 2006.
GJNY: These maintenance charges have not exceeded the Yankees rent payments. Between 2000 and 2004, the Yankees paid the city $26.43 million in rent after deducting maintenance costs.

Read Good Jobs New York's December 23, 2008 press release regarding the Industrial Development Agency's rushed vote on more tax-free financing for the Yankees and Mets.

Inflated Property Values

Meanwhile, Brooklyn reporter Norman Oder examines the “comparable” property the city used to value the land under Yankee Stadium, specifically disputing the notion that a vacant parcel in Alphabet City can be compared to one in the South Bronx. Read more about the controversy over the stadium property assessments.

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Audit by the New York City Comptroller Finds The Yankees Owe New York More Than $11 Million

November 7, 2008. A year after Good Jobs New York called attention to questionable receipts the New York Yankees submitted to the city as "planning costs" for their new stadium, the Office of NYC Comptroller William Thompson issued an audit examining the team's payments under their lease agreement with the city (which has allowed the team to deduct $5 million per year in planning costs for their new stadium from 2001-2008). The audit, which covers the three year period from January 2003 - December 2006, found that the Yankees claimed $11,388,155 in ineligible credits. The Yankees agreed to pay the total sum and have already paid the city over $7,000,000 million plus interest.

View the Comptroller's Audit

View the press release by Good Jobs New York

Read the New York Daily News story on the audit

As part of the audit, the Yankees submitted tens of thousands of dollars in receipts for crystal baseballs, Yankee merchandise, bar bills and other questionable items to the City as “planning expenses” for rent reductions.

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Parking Garages

On October 9, 2007, the New York City Industrial Development Agency (IDA) approved a proposal to offer subsidies for the construction of the three new garages and the renovation of existing garages and surface lots in the area. The IDA agreed to issue $225 million in triple tax-exempt bonds (up from an earlier proposed amount of $190 million) to the Bronx Parking Development Corporation to finance the development of the parking facilities. The city estimates this will mean over $2.5 million in forgone city taxes (in addition, there will be approximately $5 million and $51 million in forgone taxes at the state and federal level, respectively). As of August 2012, Bronx Parking Development is in default on over $240 million in bond obligations. In July 2013 Bronx Parking Development issued Request for Proposals to sublease and redevelop the lots.

See also GJNY's news and resources related to the proposed soccer arena to be built on failed Yankee parking garages.

Recent News:

2013 IBO: Operator of Yankee Stadium Parking System Strikes Out: With Bonds in Default and Growing Debt to the City, Company Issued Request for Proposals to Redevelop Two Lots [related media] and Reuters reports that the IRS is investigating the bond deal

2012 Notice of Default  [read selections of media coverage of the default of the bonds that paid for Yankees Parking Garages]

2012 Budget and Waiver of Default

 

View September 6 IDA public hearing project materials.
Read GJNY's testimony from the September 6th IDA hearing
Read the testimony of Joyce Hogi, a resident of the South Bronx.
Read New Yorker's for Park's testimony.
Read the testimony of parks advocate and Bronx resident Elizabeth Cooke Levy.

View April 5 IDA hearing project materials.
Read GJNY's testimony from the April 5th IDA hearing.
Read the testimony of Joyce Hogi, a resident of the South Bronx.
Read Tri-State Transportation Campaign's testimony.
Read Sustainable South Bronx's testimony.
Read Straphanger Campaign's testimony.

On March 24, 2006, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) also approved the allocation of $70 million for the parking garages, which are expected to cost approximately $239 million to construct (not including the $32 million cost to the city of building public parks on top of the garages). 

View Modifications to ESDC's General Project Plan regarding the parking garages. See GJNY's testimony at a March 2, 2006 ESDC hearing.

News articles on Yankees parking garages:

New York City Independent Budget Office, Operator of Yankee Stadium Parking System Strikes Out: With Bonds in Default and Growing Debt to the City, Company Issued Request for Proposals to Redevelop Two Lots, July 11, 2013

New York Daily News, Beleaguered firm begins reviewing proposals to sublease empty parking lots near Yankee Stadium, July 12, 2013

Crains New York Business, Fate of big Bronx parking company unclear, July 12, 2013

Transportation Nation, Yankee Stadium Parking Company Defaults on Its Bonds, October 11, 2012

Reuters, NY Yankees garage bondholders should take haircut--advisor, June 26, 2012

WNBC, I-Team: Bronx Garage Near Yankee Stadium Nearly Empty on Home Opener, April 17, 2012

WNYC, On opening day, Yankee parking garages limp toward possible default, April 12, 2012

Daily News, Lots of money lost on Yankee Stadium Parking, February 3, 2012

Streetsblog, The House That EDC Built: A 9,000-Car Complex With 8,930 Empty Spaces, February 3, 2012

Transportation Nation, After Hundreds of Millions of Dollars of Public Subsidies, Barely Used Yankees Parking Garages Face Financial Collapse, May 19 2011

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Parkland alienation

The new Yankee stadium project also included the construction of three nearby parking garages containing almost 5,000 spaces.  The stadium and parking lots were  developed on frequently used public parkland, including portions of Macomb's Dam and John Mullaly Parks.

The New York State legislature quietly seized these parks in June, 2005, allowing the city to dispose of these properties to be used for the stadium and parking garages. 

GJNY's Legislative Timeline of Parkland Grab: Charting the eight days it took for the City and State to seize the parks being used for the stadium and garages.

June 15-June 23, 2005

June 15, 2005: An Agreement is Made
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the city and its Economic Development Corporation, and the Yankees.  In the MOU:

  • The city and ESDC agree to make a “collaborative effort to seek State legislation  as quickly as possible” authorizing the construction of the new stadium and parking garages on public parklands;
  • The city, ESDC, and the Yankees agree to cooperate in preparing draft legislation in seeking a Home Rule message from the New York City Council*, and the Yankees “have the primary responsibility for gathering” the support of local elected officials.

 
June 18, 2005-June 19, 2005 (Saturday and Sunday)

The State Legislature Takes Action
Over the course of this weekend, two bills were introduced in the state legislature to authorize the use of public parkland for a stadium and parking garages.

  • A Senate bill (S5818), sponsored by Queens State Senator Frank Padavan, was referred to the Senate Rules Committee;
  • The following day, an Assembly bill (A8932), sponsored by Assembly Member Carmen E. Arroyo and cosponsored by other members of the Bronx delegation, was initially referred to the Cities Committee.

June 20, 2005: City Council Grants Approval

A Home Rule message cosponsored by Bronx Council Members Joel Rivera (Chair of the committee) and Helen Foster**, was introduced before the New York City Council Committee on State and Federal Legislation authorizing the state to move forward.

  • The accompanying Fiscal Impact Statement indicated that there would be no costs;
  • Minutes from the committee meeting indicate that the Home Rule message was not discussed;
  • Minutes from the Stated Council meeting that afternoon indicate that the Home Rule message was “coupled on the General Order Calendar” to be voted on with about a dozen other items;
  • The bill passed unanimously with one abstention.

June 23, 2005: Final Approval from the State

A day after the bill was passed in the Senate, the Assembly voted unanimously for the bill, which was signed into law by Governor Pataki on July 19, 2005.

*    A City Council “Home Rule message” is a formal request for specific state legislation.  Parks may not be taken from the public without authorization from the state.
** Council Member Foster has since voiced her opposition to the project.        

 


Replacement Parks

NYC Council Committee on Parks and Recreation held a hearing on June 24, 2008 regarding cost overruns and construction delays on the parks that are being built to replace those torn down for the new Yankee stadium

Read GJNY's testimony

Read testimony by New Yorkers for Parks

Read testimony by community resident Joyce Hogi

Read testimony by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

NYC Council Committee on Parks and Recreation held a follow up hearing on April 29, 2009 regarding the status of the Yankee Stadium Replacement Parks

Read GJNY's testimony

Read testimony by New Yorkers for Parks

Read testimony by community resident Joyce Hogi

Read testimony by community resident William Casari

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Community Benefits Agreement

A "Participation and Labor Force Mitigation and Community Benefits Program Related to the Construction of the New Yankee Stadium" was signed by Yankee President Randy Levine, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, and three members of the City Council's Bronx delegation. Click here to view the deal.

Read GJNY's rebuttal to the city's claim of community benefits from the new Yankee Stadium project. (New York Daily News December 3, 2008).

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Congressional oversight of the project costs

The New York Daily News reports congress is investigating whether NYC officials inflated land values for the new Yankee Stadium. (July 27, 2008).

Democracy Now! clip on the Congressional investigation, hosted by Daily News reporter Juan Gonzalez, with Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Field of Schemes author Neil deMause, and Good Jobs New York's Bettina Damiani. (July 30, 2008)

Congress holds a hearing on the Yankee Stadium deal titled Gaming the Tax Code: Public Subsidies, Private Profits, and Big League Sports in New York (September 18, 2008).

Assembly Member Brodsky releases a report on the Yankee Stadium subsidy deal titled The House that You Built (September 16, 2008).

Good government, park advocacy and community groups send an open letter to New York City Congressional Members demanding they deny federal subsidies for sports facilities (June 17, 2008).

The Congressional subcommittee on Domestic Policy, of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, held a hearing on October 10, 2007 titled "Professional Sport Stadiums: Do They Divert Public Funds From Critical Public Infrastructure?" Good Jobs NY testified on the Yankee Stadium subsidy deal as part of this hearing.

  • Read the testimony of Bettina Damiani, Project Director of Good Jobs New York.
  • View a map showing subsidized baseball stadiums against deficient bridges in NYC.
  • View a map showing subsidized professional sports stadiums against structurally deficient bridges across the country.

 

A Congressional subcommittee held a hearing on March 30, 2007 to examine the issue of publicly subsidized sports facilities, convention centers, and hotels, and dedicated much of the hearing to the Yankee Stadium project. At the city's request, the Internal Revenue Service issued a "private letter ruling" last year that enabled the Yankees to receive tax exempt financing for the construction of the new stadium. Later, the IRS modified its regulations to permit future stadium projects to take advantage of the same loophole in federal law that permits tax-exempt financing for certain sports facilities.

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The Yankees and the IRS

On October 22, 2008, the IRS issued a long-awaited ruling that will make it harder, if not impossible, to finance the construction of future sports facilities with triple tax-exempt bonds, but the ruling grandfathers in financing for existing projects. Because the new restrictions don’t apply to projects that were “substantially in progress” as of October 19, 2006, this means that the Yankees and Mets will be able to secure millions in additional tax-free bonds for their new stadiums. Whether or not the proposed Nets Arena at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards was “substantially in progress” as of that date, and whether it will be eligible for the same financing scheme as the Mets and Yankees stadium, is debatable.

View the IRS Ruling

View GJNY's 2007 comments to the IRS on its proposal and our recent letter to New York City's Congressional delegation on the subject

View news links from the New York Daily News, The New York Times, and Atlantic Yards Report

View a statement by Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn on whether the new IRS restrictions apply to the Nets Arena

Email exchanges between City Hall and Yankees show luxury boxes a priority for Bloomberg Administration. 

Assembly Member Richard Brodsky, chair of the New York State Assembly Committee on Corporations, Commissions and Authorities, recently released emails he obtained between New York City officials and the Yankees. The emails detail negotiations around city luxury suites in the new stadium. One leverage point involved the city’s request to the IRS for tax exempt bonds for the project.

Read coverage by the Daily News, which includes links to the emails.

Read copies of the emails, courtesy of the Daily News:


Read news coverage by the New York Times, the New York Post and the Village Voice.

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Insider Baseball Online Appendices

Yankee Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost's affidavit from Save Our Parks et al. v. Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary, United States Department of the Interior et al. Exhibits A and C contain a list of companies that the Yankees have or will retain to perform work vital to the new stadium.

In 2001 Mayor Rudolph Giuliani authorized the Yankees to deduct up to $5 million a year of "stadium planning expenses" from their rent payments to the city.

  • Read official documents summarizing which Yankee expenses were subsidized by taxpayers in 2001, 2002, and 2004 . Expenses include lobbyists such as Powers, Crane & Co. and portions of the salaries of Yankee owner George Steinbrenner's children, Hal and Hank.

Read detailed billing documents of various firms hired by the Yankees at the taxpayers' expense:

New York City Conflicts of Interest Board's 1997 decision permitting Randy Levine to consult for Major League Baseball while serving as Deputy Mayor.

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Mets Citifield

The New York City Industrial Development Agency (IDA) approved the use of tax-exempt bonds and other subsidies for this project in 2006 and 2009, at the same time as the cross-town rival, Yankees.  For details on subsidies for Citifield, see Field of Schemes subsidy chart. The new Citifield Stadium garnered much less controversy than the New York Yankees not because the Mets got substantially fewer subsidies than the other. The line in the sand was the Yankee's successful in convicing officials to let them build the new stadium on heavily used park land, not on exisiting parking lots, where the new Citifiled was built for the Mets.

Relevant dates in Citifield's subsidy deal:

January 2009:

  • The Industrial Development Agency's cost/benefit analysis for Citifield (aka Queens Ballpark Company)

  • April 2006:

    • GJNY calls on Council Member David Weprin to postpone Wednesday's City Council Finance Committee vote on the stadium financing structure until it receives approval from the Internal Revenue Service. Read the letter.
    • The New York City Independent Budget Office released an analysis of the fiscal implications of the Mets Stadium project. 

     

    March 2006:

    • The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) approved the allocation of $70 million for infrastructure projects related to the new stadium.  ESDC also approved a $4.7 grant to the Mets for future maintenance costs.  Read ESDC's General Project Plan.
  • The Industrial Development Agency's cost/benefit analysis for a new Mets Stadium (aka Queens Ballpark Company)