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New York Yankees Must Sell Naming Rights

Jeff KalafaAnalyst IIIApril 24, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 17:  A view of Yankee Stadium from center field during the New York Yankees game against the Cleveland Indians on April 17, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Many of the high priced seats behind home plate remained empty during the game.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The New York Yankees must join the rest of the sporting world and sell naming rights to their new stadium. If they can't do it today, because of the economy, they must take care of it as soon as they can. 

The Dallas Cowboys, the world's wealthiest sports franchise, is currently negotiating a naming rights deal, the Washington Redskins play in a stadium named "Fed Ex" and the storied Manchester United Soccer team plays in Old Trafford—not "Manchester United Stadium."

Why should the Yankees do the unthinkable?  It's simple!  If they have to ask the public for just $1, then it's the Yankees responsibility to find other ways to raise the funds, and save the New York taxpayer, as much as they can.

To make matters worse, the Yankees raised ticket prices 76 percent from last year and are now charging over $76 for an average ticket, $25 higher than any other team.

Nobody seems to be really clear as to how much the public contributed to this project.  New York's mayor Bloomberg said "We've put next to nothing into these two stadiums" but doesn't make mention of the infra-structure costs involved.

I've heard estimates that, in the end, it will cost the public about $450 million for Yankee Stadium and about $200 million for the Mets' Citi Field.

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The Mets had the sense to sell naming rights to their stadium.  They also had the decency to charge about $40 less than the Yankees, for an average ticket this year,

And what about the tax free bonds?  Didn't the Yankees benefit from doing most of the financing with tax free bonds?

The situation is getting a little sticky.  On Tuesday of this week, a New York judge ordered the Yankees to give him a catalog of financial records sought by state lawmakers investigating the use of public funds to help build the stadium, or is asking the Yankees to prove the records should remain private.

People are starting to question the Yankees use of public money.  Johnathon Schiller, the Yankees Attorney, said it's "grandstanding" by politicians, but the increase in ticket prices have inflamed the average citizen.

And what about the premium seating?  $2600 for a seat!  The Yankees are displaying an elitism that only they can justify and people are fed up.

Mayor Bloomberg can keep reminding New Yorker's that "these are great additions to the skyline" but how about reminding your constituents about the money they could have saved, if the Yankees broke down and sold naming rights?

I emailed sports columnists from  New York Newsday, the NY Daily News and the New Jersey Star ledger to ask them why the Yankees didn't sell naming rights to the  stadium.

One of the columnists emailed me back and wrote "doing it now is a grand idea."  Another wrote  "I agree with you, It would have made sense".

Of course it makes sense!  What doesn't make sense is the public footing any bill that has anything to do with this stadium—the building or the infra-structure—when the Yankees could have raised a huge amount of funding, if they sold the name.

Some people say that selling the naming rights is a bad idea because Citi (formerly Citicorp) was bailed out to the tune of $45 billion by the federal government and it is the American taxpayer, that bought the name of the Mets new stadium.

That may be true, but if the Yankees can't work a deal now, even though the Cowboys are in the process of a naming rights deal, if the economy perks up—they can do it then.

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