Andrew Zimbalist on the Skanks proposed stadium
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| By eyleenn on Sunday, January 22, 2006 - 01:20 pm:|
From today's NY Times:
January 22, 2006
By ANDREW ZIMBALIST
PLANS to build a new Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx have kicked up a small storm of local protest. Many people who live near Mullaly and Macombs Dam Parks, where the new stadium will be built, are concerned about what it will mean for their neighborhood, and rightfully so. But the crucial public policy question here is whether there will be a net benefit for residents of the Bronx and the other boroughs. The answer is yes.
Those who want no disruption and the maintenance of the status quo need to think again. The existing stadium was built in 1923 and grows more unsafe and expensive to maintain with each year. The Yankees have been spending nearly $10 million a year on maintenance at Yankee Stadium - money that their lease allows them to deduct from the rent they pay the city. Engineering studies say it's time to build a new stadium.
The Yankees are proposing a fair financial deal to the city. Nationally, during the last 15 years, the public share in stadium development costs (that is, the stadium plus roads, utilities and so forth) for professional sports has averaged around 75 percent. The Yankees are planning to spend $800 million of their own money on the new stadium (no major league baseball team has spent more than $300 million on their own playing field). The city and state together will spend about $210 million for improvements in the neighborhood. By this reckoning, the public share is only about 21 percent.
Yet most of this public spending will be of direct benefit to the community, and a significant share will come back to the state and city. As part of the $210 million, the city will spend a projected $130 million to replace and upgrade the parks and their athletic facilities. According to the plan, there will be 10 percent more park space, more ball fields, an upgrade to the existing running track and soccer field and the addition of basketball, handball and tennis courts.
Contrary to some reports, these fields will be at ground level. Other than the new tennis center, which will be on the river (part of a 5.5-acre riverfront park with esplanade and bubble for winter use), the fields and open space are linked, and adjacent to the new stadium. Together with the development of surrounding commercial space and the prospect for a new Metro-North platform, the project will be a major facelift for the area and help gentrify the South Bronx.
Also part of the $210 million is the state's investment of $70 million into new parking garages. Under the proposal, all parking revenue would go back to the state and more than pay off the investment. The city and state would each contribute $5 million toward other improvements.
Further, the city will be able to sell off all the seats and other memorabilia from the present Yankee Stadium, lowering its net cost on the project. The Yankees are also agreeing to cover any cost overruns on the new stadium.
Naysayers will object that the Yankees contemplate getting a substantial part of the construction financing from tax-exempt bonds issued by a new local development corporation. Debt service on these bonds will be covered by the Yankees via payments in lieu of taxes to the corporation. The critics will argue that if the Yankees cover the debt service instead of paying taxes, then, in effect, the public treasury is paying for the bonds and the stadium through forfeited tax collections.
This objection was valid in the case of the vetoed West Side stadium for the Jets, but it applies only to a small degree to the Yankees project. The Bronx is already in a tax abatement zone - commercial developers in the borough don't pay real estate taxes on new projects for 15 years.
So while it could be argued that in net terms, the Yankees are contributing only $756 million to the new stadium and not $800 million, the team is still paying 75 percent of the total project costs.
All major investment projects, no matter how positive they may be for a community, disrupt the life of somebody. Undoubtedly, some residents will be made worse off. But as an investment, the Yankees' stadium plan is a winner for the Bronx and all of New York.
Andrew Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College, is the author of the forthcoming "In the Best Interests of Baseball? The Revolutionary Reign of Bud Selig."
Is this guy Selig's publicist?
| By eyleenn on Monday, January 23, 2006 - 01:26 pm:|
Reviews of "In the Best Interests of Baseball" from amazon.com:
"Andrew Zimbalist has done a very credible, eminently readable and engaging job describing MLB's commissioners, particularly Bud Selig, who easily has become the most significant figure in baseball in decades. While Selig will not necessarily share all of Zimbalist's views about the game, In the Best Interests of Baseball has thoughtfully, and perhaps uniquely, tracked many of the thorny issues that Selig confronted during baseball's new golden era."- John Moores, owner of the Padres and member of MLB's Executive Council
"Baseball books, like the game itself, are often replete with errors. But Andrew Zimbalist has written a carefully researched yet lively review of the record of the nine commissioners that is both fair and accurate. It is long overdue and a superb read."- Fay Vincent, former commissioner of baseball
"I always thought Yogi Berra was the wisest source on baseball, but Zimbalist has hit a grand slam here."- Tom Werner, owner of the Red Sox, former owner of the Padres
"Tremendously enjoyable and a must read for baseball fans. Guaranteed to raise the level of discourse on sports-talk radio."- Jim Bouton, former 20-game winning pitcher for the Yankees and author of Ball Four
"By looking at baseball from the perspective of the commissioner's office and its many challenges, Professor Zimbalist has been able to use his scholar's eye and his fan's heart to see the game as an ongoing enterprise that needs refreshment. The fair but unsparing portrait of Bud Selig he paints is of a man who is nobody's fool, and nobody's tool--and now, those of us who love the game need him to start the rally that will restore baseball in America's esteem." - Scott Simon, host of NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday and author of Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball and Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan
"Once again, Andy Zimbalist proves that no one understands the mysterious inner workings of the best game on earth better than he does. With energy, thoughtfulness and passion, he has parsed the complicated world of baseball and shown how important its business side is to its soul -- and its survival."- Ken Burns
A penetrating look at the governance of baseball under Bud Selig
As the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, Bud Selig faced tremendous opposition and conflict of interest when he became acting commissioner of baseball. Could a team owner serve the teams, the owners, the fans, and the sport with complete fairness and objectivity? A longtime critic and observer of Selig, Andrew Zimbalist takes a balanced, insightful look at the governance of baseball before and during Selig’s tumultuous reign, revealing how Selig redefined the role of commissioner and shepherded the transformation of the baseball industry into a business. He observes how Selig brought the owners together as partners, analyzes the fairness and failings of revenue sharing, examines whether the best interests of the sport have truly been served, and points the way to confronting the challenges ahead.