Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
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.