The New and Controversial Yankee Stadium

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The New and Controversial Yankee Stadium

For 85 years, the Pinstripe Crew has called Yankee Stadium their home.  In this time, countless greats have graced its field and 26 World Series titles have been won.  That's a championship every three and quarter seasons (including the '94 season causes a negligible change in this number). 

This ten-acre gem in the South Bronx was the first professional sports venue to boast three-tier seating and was the first to be called a stadium.  The $2.5 million originally used to build it is equivalent to only $31.2 million in today's dollars.  That's about how much they pay A-Rod this season. 

Tradition and money aside, it's time for this franchise to find a new pair of shoes.

Across 161st from the current stadium, a $1.3 billion behemoth is being built.  The new stadium is due for completion by the beginning of the 2009 season and will feature larger seats for ever-growing Americans.  This will result in a decrease of just over 4500 seats. 

Additionally, a 3600-space parking garage costing $320 million is in the works.  $70 million of that will come from the taxpayers of New York.  A Metro-North station and rail system, are also planned, adding $91 million to the total cost.

There are a number of traditionalists who do not want to see the current stadium demolished.  But this is only scratching the surface in discussing the complexities of the new stadium.

Community input would have likely been ignored if it even had a chance to be expressed.  The transfer of the 22-acre park lands was approved by the state legislature less than a week after the plans were unveiled, without any consent from the public.  Other parks are planned to replace it, including ten acres on top of artificial surfaces above parking garages.  This will cost another $150 million.

The new stadium will officially be property of the City of New York, but the Yankees will not have to pay any rent or property taxes.  Somehow, using public money to build such a structure is inconsistent with minimizing the tax revenue generated from it.  This gives even more of a financial advantage to the Yanks, who already boast the highest annual revenues and payroll.

The buck does not stop there, my friends.  A number of federal legislators contend that much wrong doing was involved in the planning.  Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat in the House and head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, argues that the value of the property was intentionally misrepresented in order to receive special tax breaks.  He added that architects of the new stadium found strong evidence to support the case for fraud.

When all is said and done, the stadium could cost nearly $2 billion to construct and about half of that will be funded by taxpayer dollars.  The goings-on of the project indicate that the significant financial obligations will be relieved from the Yankees.  Additionally, it seems that very little public revenue will be generated and very much of it will be used.

Ethically, this seems wrong to me.  But if this sets a precedent for Los Angeles to get a new football stadium, I might be inclined to look the other way.

What do you think?

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