Brother, can you spare another $259 million? The Yankees
come calling for more tax-free bonds after languishing $423.5
million in free agent contracts this off-season.
As the story (myth?) goes, new stadiums are one of the great equalizers for Major League Baseball. From the time Orioles Park at Camden Yards opened in 1992, 18 new ballparks have opened, with Nationals Park being the last. The majority of these stadiums were part of what I like to call the "Selig Reclamation Project", a call for large sums of public money to help fund ballparks across the nation.
The cry has been that without new stadiums, small-to-mid market clubs would not be able pull in the necessary revenues to compete with the likes of the New York Yankees, a sports juggernaut recognized as the greatest brand in MLB, and one of the biggest in all of sports.
So, what are we to make of the Yankees asking for a handout?
A vote has been scheduled for Friday to see whether the Yankees will be granted $259 million in additional tax-exempt bonds, and $111 million in taxable bonds for the new Yankee Stadium. This on top of $940 million in tax-exempt bonds and $25 million in taxable bonds that were issued in 2006.
As the economy wreaks havoc on the country, enough, apparently, isn’t enough for the Bronx Bombers.
Yes, the Yankees have shown this off-season that you can’t really rub enough salt into the wound. The signings of Mark Teixeira ($180 million), C.C. Sabathia ($161 million), A.J. Burnett ($82.5 million) account for $423.5 million. And that doesn’t include the $5 million/1-year extension given to starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang.
There is enough culpability to go around on this matter. Certainly, there has been a buddy-buddy relationship with leading politicians in New York starting with former mayor Rudy Giuliani to current mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Now, state lawmakers have subpoenaed Yankee officials, including club president Randy Levine, in an emergency session to ask just why the Yankees should be granted the public handout. To add to that, New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. has gone on the attack, challenging the Bloomberg administration of mismanagement in the matter.
The stadium will be built (it’s nearly done). The season will open. The Yankees will have spent beyond measure this off-season to make it back into the playoffs. Time to stop the insanity. For once, let the richest of the rich pick up part of the tab; they already have bilked the public plenty. As much as the Yankees hate to lose, this is one game where they should count their blessings and move on from.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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