Report: Soccer Deal Could Mean Yankees Garages In Arrears Until 2056

Monday, January 06, 2014 - 11:13 AM

Bottom right corner shows part of parking garage that would be torn down to make way for a soccer stadium. It sits next to the old Yankee Stadium, which has been demolished. (Moonstruck Video and Photo/flickr)

A proposed deal to bring a soccer stadium to the Bronx would bail out the bondholders of a set of failed parking garages and delay payments to the New York City until 2056, according to an analysis released by the Independent Budget Office. The controversial garages, which paved over a park, have already cost taxpayers millions.

When the Yankees built their new stadium, the organization insisted on the new garages, which would up the number of parking spaces by some 2,000 spots. Despite widespread warnings that a new Metro-North station would alleviate the need for the garages, the Yankees -- with the support of former Mayor Bloomberg and former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn -- insisted on pressing forward with the project, which received $39 million in direct subsidies and $238 million in tax-exempt bonds. Another $70 million came from the state. 

But as Transportation Nation has been reporting, the garages have been a failure. At upwards of $35 per spot, they're more expensive than other parking options in the area. And since the introduction of the new rail station, transit ridership to games has swelled.

Now, under a plan developed by the Bloomberg administration, the city wouldn't receive any rent payments until 2056 -- fifty years after the subsidies were issues. (As New York Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez puts it: "That’s right, no rent for the next 42 years!") Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to say where he stands on it, though on Monday his spokesman, Phil Walzak emailed:

"Mayor de Blasio has real doubts about investing scarce public resources and foregoing revenue to support the creation of an arena for a team co-owned by one of the world's wealthiest individuals."

According to the IBO analysis: "The New York City Football Club, a partnership of the Yankees and the Manchester City Football Club (a British Premiere League team), would pay the Bronx Parking Development Company $25 million for its part of the proposed stadium site. Under the terms of the so-called forbearance agreement between bondholders and the Bronx parking company, three new series of bonds would be issued to replace the originals as part of the restructuring of the company’s debt. No provisions are made for money owed to the city."

Although details aren't fully clear, the new soccer stadium would also receive taxpayer subsidies.

Oh, and by the way: the Yankees are the richest baseball franchise in the nation -- and are located in the poorest congressional district in the nation.


Comments [5]

JNYC from New York, NY

Something that always is missing from these reports is what the City Environmental Quality Review process required at that time. The CEQR process dictates the numbers of parking spaces, mitigating impacts, etc. that must be included for a project to win approval. This is overseen by the Departments of City Planning and Transportation in carrying out the statutes that are required. This isn't just political maneuvering, this is a Zoning code and compliance issue that needs to be changed. Setting maximum rather than minimum parking requirements is an important step, as well as the CEQR process and approvals allowing more "credits" for things like train stations and pedestrian access. That isn't nearly as exciting a news story, but it's part of the real process that resulted in these parking overages.

Jan. 08 2014 11:10 AM

I'm very curious about this last line: "located in the poorest congressional district in the nation." Can you provide a source for this? Thanks!

Jan. 07 2014 03:15 PM
Mark Shapp

I wish I had signed in as "Brooklyn Dodgers fan". To AG, do I detect someone who refers to NPR, as a late friend of mine used to, as "National Liberal Radio"? Yes, I suppose that epithet has a certain amount of legitimacy.

But aside from the issue of whether the neighborhood get replacement parks I don't see a "slant" except that the reporting of this unfolding story uncovers the usual glad-handing between elected officials and the powerful, the connected, and the money-soaked interests who have no use for government except when they want a handout. Bloomburg and Quinn should have told the Yankee management that if they wanted parking garages they can build them on their nickel and not the city's. That they didn't and Quinn's statements that transit could not play the dominant role should forever stain their legacies.

I must add, however, that the city's efforts to encourage transit as the major method of bringing fans to Yankee Stadium is most commendable. I'm really, really pleased that Metro North and the two subway lines drove the garages into bankruptcy. The marvelously choreographed Metro North operation to/from Yankees/153rd Street Station on game days/nights, and the use of the wye connection at 149th Street that allows Harlem and New Haven Line trains access is poetry in motion. It's not often that transit gets this kind of victory. It sure didn't when "car guy" Prince Andrew told all those pressing him for a rail transit component for the new Tappan Zee Bridge, ready to open at the same time as the new roadway, to drop dead.

I agree with you that now something has to be done about the derelict garages. But please, no more bailouts. The Yankee and Manchester City organisations have buckets of cash and THEY are the ones who should take responsibility for cleaning up the mess they've made. I don't understand why the Stadium cannot be re-purposed for soccer in the off-season for baseball. But if that's really impractical then let the teams take responsibility for funding their own infrastructure. We are after all, supposed to have a capitalist economy.

I cannot help but feel that what the Yankees are trying to pull has a similarity to the brass-knuckled, and apparently successful, strategy to get what they want that Boeing pulled off a continent away.

Jan. 07 2014 09:04 AM

Mark - bonds were issued which the Yankees have to pay back. The Yankees own and are responsible for the stadium.
The parking garages are a separate entity. basically there is no other good choice... either let it be developed or let the whole thing go bankrupt and sit there with nothing going on. There is so not enough demand for the parking.

Not sure why this talks about the park that was paved over for the garage. There were several parks built to replace that parkland... Not sure why the reporting is so slanted... then again - yes I do know why.

Jan. 06 2014 07:25 PM
Mark Shapp from Berkshire County, MA

Does anyone at WNYC or readers of TN remember how the new Yankee Stadium was financed? It hasn't been reported in this article or the one that preceded it, but are the Yankees threatening to leave town if they don't get their way on this soccer stadium/parking garage proposal? If the city largely or entirely paid for the new Yankee Stadium, the team wouldn't be walking away from an investment.

The original parking garage deal certainly should be a huge blot on Bloomburg's record as mayor. As for what Mayor de Blasio will do? He'll make noises on what a bad deal this is. But he'll be leaned on and then some by all the money-soaked, influential heavyweights and in the end, I'm sorry to say, he'll fold just like they all do.

Jan. 06 2014 02:00 PM

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