Yankees, Mets get more bonds for parks

January 16, 2009 6:00:41 PM PST
The Yankees and Mets both won big Friday after a city panel voted to give them additional public bonds that will save the teams hundreds of millions of dollars on their new stadiums. The Industrial Development Agency approved both new funding requests for the teams, which were already given hundreds of millions in tax-exempt bonds in 2006. But the teams sought additional help as costs increased on the new ballparks, which are both scheduled to open with exhibition games on April 3.

"If this financing mechanism wasn't passed, and I thank you for doing it, there would be no Yankee stadium, there wouldn't," Yankees president Randy Levine said at Friday's vote.

The Yankees were granted another $259 million in tax-exempt bonds and $111 million in taxable bonds, on top of $940 million in tax-exempt bonds and $25 million in taxable bonds already granted for its $1.5 billion Bronx stadium.

The Mets got an additional $83 million, after the $615 million already approved for their $800 million Queens park.

The vote Friday by the 14-member board followed two contentious hearings this week. Critics of the financing plan said the original deals were made without enough taxpayers input, and argued the city cannot afford to help sports teams with their stadiums during an economic slowdown.

Comptroller Bill Thompson, who initially supported the stadium deals, voted against the additional funding for the Yankees on Friday. He supported the smaller amount for the Mets.

Thompson, a Democrat running for mayor this year, said he voted no partly because the city had messed up the Yankees deal by underestimating costs for infrastructure and parkland.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has maintained that the arrangement costs the city very little when compared with the hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and other benefits to the community.

The city's Independent Budget Office estimated the Yankees deal would save the team $787 million over 40 years, and cost the city $362 million, including the money the city put into infrastructure at the Bronx site.

The Mets, under their deal, save $513 million and cost the city $138 million.