Brodsky: Yankee subsidies hit taxpayers

September 16, 2008 3:54:08 PM PDT
Taxpayers and ticket buyers are the losers in plans to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies to build the new Yankee Stadium, New York Assemblyman Richard Brodsky said Tuesday.The Westchester Democrat said the commitment of $550 million to $850 million in taxpayer money was based on an unsubstantiated threat that the Yankees would leave New York. He said in a new report that the team predicted the public investment would generate 1,000 new permanent jobs, but the actual total would be 15.

Brodsky also criticized the deal for not making affordable tickets available to lower income New Yorkers.

The Yankees and city Industrial Development Agency dispute Brodsky's accusations and plan statements responding to his report.

"This stadium is being built by the people of the city and the state of New York and in return they are getting almost nothing," Brodsky said at the Bronx construction site a couple of blocks from Yankee Stadium.

"This deal does not serve the peoples' interest," he said. "It serves the Yankees' interest."

His criticism strikes at tensions felt nationwide as governments increasingly support stadiums for profitable pro sports teams with multimillion dollar payrolls.

"When it comes to professional sports, we become socialists. With everybody else, we're capitalists," he said.

He said the concerns about subsidies for private businesses without direct benefit to the public could also apply to proposals to help the New York Mets build a new stadium and for a Nets basketball arena in Brooklyn.

Brodsky's criticisms, based on city, IRS and Yankees documents, include: - The city manipulated the assessed value of the stadium to meet requirements for an IRS tax exemption. That included using comparable land values in Manhattan rather than the Bronx to come up with the value for the new property.

- The Yankees plan to increase ticket prices, but won't offer more moderately priced tickets to New Yorkers whose taxes will help pay for the stadium.

- City officials didn't disclose their purchase of a luxury box and extra game tickets and apparently there is no city policy on their use.

- The $366 million in additional funding sought by the Yankees to complete the stadium would be for a large video screen, not structural costs.

"Critics on both the left and right have decried these taxpayer subsidies as socialism, wasteful, corrupt, anti-free enterprise, and unfair to the average citizen," Brodsky's report stated. "Yet the phrases `economic development,' `job creation,' `growth,' etc.

retain enormous political clout. A real analysis of these subsidies has yet to be done."