Thursday, November 13, 2008

Yankee Stadium Populism UPDATE

Following up on this morning's post about New Yankee Stadium, I did some searching and I found exactly one piece in Newsday critical of the cost of the place and the pricing out of the common fan, and that was a Wallace Matthews column from August 16, 2006 called "The House that Greed Will Build." It ran the day ground was broken on the place and slammed the project as wasteful of public dollars and insensitive to the interests of non-rich Yankees fans.

What I could not find, however, was a single critical article, editorial, or column between June of 2005 -- when the Yankees unveiled their plans for the joint -- and the first turning of dirt, when the horse was already out of the barn. I did, however, find many stories that, while purporting to simply pass along ballpark news, kind of read like press releases from the Steinbrenners, Mayor Bloomberg, and HOK. Which is fine, because by all accounts the new place is going to be quite nice, and reasonable people can disagree on the desirability of the project.

It just strikes me, however, that anyone who now wishes to decry the excesses of New Yankee Stadium like Newsday did this morning had better have been against the thing back when being against it could have meant something.


Pete Toms said...

There are NYC journalists who have long been critical of the Yankee Stadium project.

Foremost is Village Voice reporter Neal deMause. As well as his work in The Voice, he has been reporting on and criticizing the public dollars for private stadiums scam for years on his great blog Field of Schemes and book of the same name ( I regularly read the blog, I've not read the book ). deMause was recently featured on an ESPN segment critical of the YS project ( Between the Lines? Inside the lines? I don't get the show, I watched the segment on the web ). I thought it was interesting that deMause, who has been writing about these scams for years, is now getting mainstream attention. This is a sign that there is more awareness around this issue.

John Gonzalez - don't recall which NYC paper he writes for - has also been a vocal opponent of the YS project.

The pendulem has been slowly moving on this subject. The Jets & Giants didn't get any public $$$ - one of the reasons ( credit markets another ) that they are selling PSLs ( another big story in NYC ). The Jets also failed in their attempt to construct a stadium in " the city ". Bruce Ratner's mega project in Brooklyn - which a new arena for the Nets is a key component - is also in doubt and has met a lot of grassroots opposition.

How's the mood there Jason? Maury had a piece yesterday that the Yanks are having difficulty leasing all their new suites?

Interesting times...

Ken Dynamo said...

typical yankee arrogance. such a shameless, pusillanimous franchise. duplicitous corporations like them must be destroyed. i will personally volunteer the services of my chainsaw for the purpose of the yankees' destruction.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Feel the same way about Citi Field, Ken? ;-)

Jason @ IIATMS said...

Can someone translate Ken's rant into English for me?

Locally speaking, this is no surprise. This was getting shoehorned thru the politicos no matter what.

Also, we're so used to overpaying for everything that this is just another example. My taxes are astronomical. The cost of living is ridiculous. And no, I don't anticipate making it to many games next year (or the next few years) unless my Wall Street buddies get some freebies to toss my way.

And most yankee fans simply take the added costs as the the price we pay to have a team that has a shot at winning almost every year.

Sure there are those, like Ken, who love to rail on the team and the organization and I understand why. But at the same time, it's this engine that feeds so much of the MLB machine. Every league needs a behemoth to drive interest (and by proxy, revenues). See also: Dallas Cowboys, LA Lakers, etc.

Just ask the owners of other teams, namely small market ones how they feel about the Yanks. Sure there's probably a hint (understatement alert) of jealousy with the amount they spend, but at the same time, when the Yanks Circus rolls into town, attendance skyrockets and the dollars roll.

Ask those same owners about their revenue sharing checks they get every year.

Once Mike Hampton's abortion of a contract was being paid by 3 clubs at once. Well, the Yanks are helping 28 other clubs (Sox pay revenue sharing, too, I think) pay their bills.

Ken, is it just the Yanks you hate or is it every big market team? Are the Mets, Sox, Dodgers, Cubs also included in your venom-spewing? Or is it only because the ownership are a bunch of loudmouths? I'm just trying to understand. Hey, I can't stand Hank any more than you can, but you can't dispute the fact that ownership values WINNING over making a profit.

Take that charge to the Marlins, Padres, etc. and see what they're doing.

Lastly, railing against the "corporations" is silly. The corps have had their hands in the cake for generations. This is a business, not a hobby or charity.

The Yanks are family-owned. Ask the Cubs and Braves fans if they like being corp-owned or would they rather be family-owned? Betchya CC wouldn't mind seeing Ted back in the front row.

/end rant

aarif said...

It could have something to do with the fact that Newsday is a Long Island paper, and since their readership is wealthier, the wastefulness of the new stadia (Yankee & Citi) didn't really become an issue until this economic downturn.

JE said...

Jason, forget the other teams and revenue sharing. What makes the Yankee Stadium construction an absolute shanda is that the House that Oscar Gamble Built could have remained afloat for another 30 years. Yes, it is all about the money, or more specifically, the luxury boxes. And who pays the freight? Every single taxpayer, regardless of whether they are a Yankees fan, Mets follower, or simply care far more about providing for their family than about baseball.

This has nothing to do with how many games a Yankee fan can afford to see during the season.

rob said...

Funny, I seem to remember reading a recent article in the New York Times about adding tolls to the East River bridges to fill a budget shortfall.

aarif said...

East River bridge tolls = backdoor congestion pricing. Which is a good thing. They already charge for the tunnels, anyway, as well as Hudson River bridges & the Triboro.

Pete Toms said...

Jason, you're preachin to the choir!

The return of the Yankees to the top of the heap during the Torre glory years was one of the key factors in the overall growth in popularity of MLB. And everybody kvetches but you're right, TB according to the WSJ this postseason pocketed $60 million in rev sharing / central fund gelt before they sold a ticket. A whack of that has to come from NYC.

As for corporate ownership, we Jays fans have had different experiences. When the Jays were #1 in payroll, the owner was Labatts - a beer company. They were engaged in a battle with Molsons for market share and saw a lot of value in the Jays as a marketing vehicle. Their #1 brand and the national drink of Canada, is Labatts Blue. Labatts sold to a Belgian brewrey, Interbrew and they saw the Jays differently and slashed payroll. The present owner, Rogers Communications, is barely aware that they own the Jays. I think the only value they see in them is as cheap programming for their sportsnet. The super wealthy guy ( ok, by Cdn standards anyway ) who owns it, Ted Rogers, could care less about championships.

I'll ask Craig the same question, how do you like being a fan of a team owned by Liberty Media? I'd take a Steinbrenner instead, thanks.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Liberty is better than AOL/Time-Warner was, but each pales compared to Ted Turner. That said, I came in right around the time Turner decided to become sane for a while (1985-86), so I missed the stunts (Ted as manager!) and sadness (trading for Len Barker and a bunch of other zeros) that came before. I can totally see that a Braves fan from the mid 70s to the early 80s would have craved corporate ownership.

Ultimately, I would hope that any team I rooted for would have ownership that understood that the real value of owning a team was asset appreciation as opposed to year-to-year cashflow, and spent was necessary to grow the value of the asset as opposed to finish any given year in the black.

Jason @ IIATMS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason @ IIATMS said...

"absolute shanda", "kvetch", "gelt"

The Yiddish is priceless. It's giving me schpilkes

Pete Toms said...

Tad, before you correct me, I just notice that I typed " could care less " again. I've been saying it incorrectly for so long that I think it is incorrectable. I'm gonna stick with it.

JE said...

Uh, Jason, "absolute" is not a Yiddish word. ;-)

tadthebad said...

Pete, you're not argumentative or in a pissy mood today... as such, less fun identifying any grammar mistakes. I can only be so anal.

When Fenway has to be replaced, it will be interesting to see if this state will be so casual with using public funds to support a new park. Not that the will of the people will be followed as the MA state legislature has a history of ignoring public referendums.

Jason, yep Sox pay revenue sharing too, as did several other teams this year since the Sox had about the 4th highest payroll in 2008.

tadthebad said...

Something to consider: the Krafts built Gillette Stadium (opened for business in 2002) with their own money. Hopefully that shames Henry et al. into using their own money for a new park, whenever that happens.

Pete Toms said...

Jerry Jones is building his own too. Read yesterday that he has to scare up about another $350 million - cost overruns don't you know. Good luck with that! What happened to the G3?