The New York Yankees are headed to the playoffs. But the company running Yankee Stadium's parking garages remains mired in a slump. With the baseball season just about over, the numbers are in: paying customers have filled only 45 percent of the stadium's 9,000 parking spots on game days this season.
Now development officials say they are looking to tear down one of the garages and replace it with a first class hotel and conference center. The idea is that development will bring in extra revenue and make the remaining parking spots more valuable.
The Yankees had initially argued, when seeking city council approval, that its new stadium would require more parking. But the opposite happened.
Many fans who drive to see the Yankees have been shunning the $35 spots for cheaper ones in the neighborhood. Even more fans have been taking the subway or Metro-North trains.
The Bronx Parking Development Company, which owns the eleven garages and surface lots that serve the new Yankee Stadium, built thousands of extra spots. One garage was erected on parkland that New York City gave to the company, over many residents' objections.
The city has worked since then to create an equal amount of parkland in the area, but progress has been slow: the All Hallows High School baseball team, just four blocks from the stadium, has been without a home field for five years.
Heritage Field, a set of regulation-sized baseball diamonds on the lot where the old Yankee Stadium stood, was recently finished. But they still can't be used. Another month is needed for the sod to take hold. For now, they sit lushly — and idly — under the sun.
The new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009. Its extensive parking system has underperformed from the start. Now the Bronx Parking Development Company is struggling to pay back the $237 million dollars it owes in tax-exempt bonds.
The company's next bond payment is November 1. Company Vice President Chuck Lesnick said he didn't know whether the company would need to dip into its cash reserves to meet the obligation, a sign that the enterprise could be teetering on default.
Lesnick said in an interview that he'd even be open to selling off surface parking lots around the stadium to raise extra money.