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WNYC News

Superstar Pastor Returns to the Mound at Yankee Stadium

Friday, June 06, 2014

WNYC

Joel Osteen brings his popular annual event America’s Night of Hope back to New York Saturday night.

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WNYC News

Weekend Staff Picks: Kids, Cats & Cappuccinos

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A pop-up shop where you can enjoy a cappuccino while playing with a cat is among the picks suggested by our colleagues at WNYC.

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Transportation Nation

Mayor Bloomberg Is "Trying To Help" Nearly Bankrupt Yankee Stadium Parking Company

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"How'd you get to the game?" For most Yankees fans, the answer is not driving and parking in a stadium garage but riding mass transit. (photo by Flickr / wallyg)

(New York, NY - WNYC) With the company that owns the Yankee Stadium parking system staring down bankruptcy, Mayor Bloomberg called the situation "sad," and said his administration is "trying to help them."

Speaking during a press conference Q & A, the mayor addressed the issue of the stadium's foundering garages and lots, which have been only 42 percent full this season, according to this latest report.

"There just wasn't the business there that the owners, who made the investment, thought that there was going to be," the mayor said in answer to a question posed by a WNYC reporter. "If the owners of the parking garage can't make money, that's sad. We've got to find a way to help them."

The Bloomberg administration has already tried to help the company by having the city's Economic Development Corporation attempt to broker a deal with a real estate developer to build affordable housing and stores on some of the underused lots near an existing retail mall. But those talks have ended without a deal.

NYC EDC spokesman Kyle Sklerov wouldn't give specifics on the failed negotiations. Nor would he comment on an idea by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. to have the Bronx Parking Development Company build a hotel atop an empty garage. Sklerov would only say:“New options to develop the site will be considered moving forward as part of a larger effort by the BPDC board to get back on sound financial footing."

The scramble to find new revenue for the BPDC was set off by the company's long slide into default on $237 million in tax-free bonds. The NYC EDC acted as the conduit for those bonds, not the seller, so taxpayers aren't holding the debt.

Still, the default is a blow to the agency's reputation. Before the Yankees' new stadium was opened in 2009, Bronx residents and some civic groups tried to warn the city and the team that 9,000 parking spots spread across eleven lots and garages weren't needed. Their concerns went unheeded and the EDC facilitated the tax-free bonds that created a parking system sized to suit the Yankees' misguided desire.

The lots and garages have been underused--even during seasons, like this one, when the Yankees make the playoffs--and the BPDC is now in financial free fall.

Perhaps Mayor Bloomberg said it best when first asked at the press conference about the stadium parking: "Not everything works."

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Schoolbook

That Batboy Job With the Yankees? It's a Bronx School Perk

Sunday, July 01, 2012

It used to be -- for the most part, anyway -- that batboy aspirants or their parents knew somebody with an insider connection to the Yankee organization. Or they knew somebody who knew somebody. But once the Yankees announced their new stadium plans, in 2005, they also began reaching out to schools in the surrounding Bronx community to fill a number of their batboy slots. And this year, Edwin Tavarez, who just graduated from the Urban Assembly School for Careers in Sports, and Bryan Jimenez, a new graduate of the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, can be found wearing pinstripes and catching fly balls on the Yankee Stadium field. See the video report, too.

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Transportation Nation

On Opening Day, NY Yankees Parking Garages Limp Toward Default

Thursday, April 12, 2012

 

 

Yankee parking garage that was closed due to lack of customers. (Photo by Jim O'Grady)

The Yankees hold their first home game in the Bronx on Friday afternoon, but the company that owns their stadium's parking garages may be on its last legs.

The Bronx Parking Development Corporation is struggling to make payments on the $237 million in tax exempt bonds used to build the garages, placing the company in danger of default

As TN reported, the eleven garages were a little more than one-third full on game days last year. On days without a game, an average of  70 people paid to park there, leaving nearly 9,000 spaces empty. Each space costs $35 or $48 for valet parking. Smaller garages in the neighborhood charge much less.

Late last month, the corporation said it needed to raid its cash reserves to make its latest payment on its bond obligations. In a letter to bond holders, the corporation said that if it didn't do that, it would immediately default. The same crisis occurred before the last bi-annual payment came due, in November.

The parking company, which was set up with the backing of the Bloomberg administration because the Yankees wanted more parking spaces, also owes $25 million to the city in rent and property taxes.

In an audit last month, New York City Comptroller John Liu blasted the city Industrial Development Agency for recommending in 2006 that the bonds be issued to finance the new garages. "NYIDA did not independently analyze the financial position and cash flow of the proposed parking operation or the parking needs of the community to determine if there would be a demand for increased parking, at higher prices, in the Yankee Stadium vicinity," the report said.

Critics like Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs New York agreed with Liu's assessment. "This project was forced through despite the screaming concerns of local residents, transportation experts and good government advocates," she said.

The agency replied in a written statement that it relied on the recommendation of "a nationally recognized expert" in giving a thumbs up to the deal, and then helping to arrange for its tax exempt financing.

Agency spokesman Kyle Sklerov also stressed in an email to WNYC that the city would not lose money if the Bronx Parking Development Corporation defaulted on its debt. “The bonds are not a general obligation of the City or the IDA in any way, shape or form," he said.

Damiani said that may be true, but the garages going bust would mean a big hit to the reputation of the agency. "What does it mean for future projects in this city when a development as prominent as the one associated with Yankee Stadium goes into default?" she asked.

Sklerov disagreed. He said, "We expect that bond investors will continue to evaluate future IDA projects on their own merits.”

The garages were also controversial because city parkland was paved to make way for some of them. That parkland was fully replaced only last week when, after five years,  three new baseball diamonds on the site of the old Yankee Stadium were opened to the public.

A call to the Bronx Parking Development Corporation was not returned.

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WNYC News

On Opening Day, Yankee Parking Garages Limp Toward Possible Default

Thursday, April 12, 2012

WNYC

The Yankees hold their first home game in the Bronx on Friday afternoon, but the company that owns their stadium's parking garages may be on its last legs.

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Transportation Nation

After 5-Year Wait, Ballfields Near Yankee Stadium Finally Open

Monday, April 09, 2012

MaCombs Dam Field sits in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. (Photo by Jessie Wright-Mendoza)

(New York, NY - WNYC) It's been a long wait for a South Bronx neighborhood that heard promise after promise about how parkland that became parking garages would one day be replaced. That day is now here.

Five years after the city of New York allowed a heavily used set of baseball diamonds to be paved over for a parking lot serving the new Yankee Stadium, a set of replacement fields has opened--a year behind schedule. In the meantime, those garages have remained mostly empty on Yankee game days and, as TN has reported, the company that owns them is on the verge of default.

The field, which was also known as Heritage Field and is actually a set of three fields, saw its first action last week with a game between Cardinal Hayes and All Hallows high school varsity baseball teams. For years, the teams have been playing "home" games on opponents' fields while waiting for the new fields to open.

Neighborhood residents had to wait until Saturday to get their first access to the 10.8 acres of Kentucky bluegrass, installed where the old Yankee Stadium once stood. Standing outside the new Heritage Field, South Bronx resident Carlos Juarez said his neighbors have gone through a range of emotions as they waited for the former parkland to be replaced.

"In the beginning, people refused to support this construction," he said. "They took down the old Yankee Stadium and people were like, 'What are they going to do?' But when they saw the result, they just loved it."

Similarly, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe stressed the end result rather than the lengthy and sometimes rancorous process that delivered it.

"When you talk to people in the neighborhood about the old MaCombs Dam Park, they knew they were not particularly great," Benepe said. "The old MaCombs Dam ballfield was sort of in a pit surrounded by elevated roadways."

The new MaCombs Dam Field will be open from 10 a.m. to dusk and will give priority to teams with permits from the city. But when those teams aren't playing, the public will be free to step on turf where Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio once plied their trade. Blue polymer fiber stitched into the sod marks where home plate once stood. Anyone can straddle it and, in their minds eye, knock a long ball out of the park.

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WNYC News

After 5-Year Wait, Ballfields Near Yankee Stadium Finally Set to Open

Friday, April 06, 2012

WNYC

The gates were locked on Friday at MaCombs Dam Field alongside the new Yankee Stadium. That's despite reports the field had opened this week, a year behind schedule and five years after a set of neighborhood baseball diamonds were paved over to make way for a stadium parking lot.

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Transportation Nation

Do Parking Permits Have Unintended Consequences?

Friday, November 04, 2011

Parking Sign, not in New York City (Photo (cc) by Flickr user Smaku)

Issuing residential parking permits is one of those things that seems so self-evident to some New York City residents that it’s unimaginable it hasn’t happened already. At a city council hearing on Wednesday, Council Member Leticia James, who represents the area around Barclay’s Center, future home to the Brooklyn Nets, summed it up in her characteristically emphatic way: “A residential parking permit program would discourage all-day parking by commuters who use neighborhoods, as is the case in downtown Brooklyn, basically as a parking lot.”

Brooklyn Heights resident Michael Serrapica put an even finer point on it.  “This is a residential neighborhood, it’s been completely overrun by people from outside of the neighborhood who otherwise could pay to park in a commercial garage.”

The council voted 40-8 in favor of implementing a parking permit system, with one abstention.  But the bill doesn’t mean the system is going to be put into effect -- that requires a vote of the state legislature.

Still, even the prospect of a parking permit system got the saliva glands flowing for many New Yorkers.

And yet, for the New York City department of transportation, parking permits can produce a set of unintended consequences, excluding a group of people some neighborhoods need to accommodate.  Deputy transportation commissioner David Woloch ticked those groups off:  “those using local businesses and services, residential visitors, in-home workers, residents parking rental cars or car-share vehicles, and deliveries.”

Rachel Weinberger, a University of Pennsylvania Professor and Brooklyn resident -- who lives, BTW, not too far from Barclay's Center herself -- sums it up:

“Where I live, a typical lot width is 19 feet. You could park about 1.25 vehicles in front of each building. At the same time most of the units are three families. If everyone had a car and a permit there would be 2.4 times more vehicles entitled to park than spaces. In many NYC neighborhoods they would serve as a "hunting license" meaning you would be allowed to hunt for a space but there are no guarantees you would find one," she said.

In testimony before the city council, Woloch also invoked the term “hunting license.” “One potential unintended consequence is therefore that residents can find themselves paying Residential Parking Permit (RPP) fees for the same privilege they currently enjoy, namely, circling for scarce parking spaces.”

Weinberger also voices a concern that RPPs could “have an adverse impact on commerce. For example, if your RPP completely restricts visitors' parking, shoppers or restaurant customers will take their business elsewhere. If the restriction is something like only RPP parking from 10:30 to11:30 that will prevent commuters from using your area as a park and ride lot.”

In Europe, RPPs have been used to discourage parking and driving, part of that continent’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to Michael Kodransky, a parking expert at the Institute for Transportation Development Policy. He writes in an email: Permits “can be used to meet a variety of goals — like as a cap on the parking supply in conjunction with off-street parking regulations (forbidden/frozen) or to encourage cleaner vehicle use (e.g., in London certain boroughs vary the cost of a permit based on a vehicles emissions mostly based on their engine.)”

In Amsterdam, Kodransky notes, “off-street parking construction is forbidden since residents already have on-street spaces.” There is, he writes, a ten-year waiting list there.

However, in both these cases, the permits are used as revenue generators. The state bill supported by the NY city council would send revenue to transit, though there’s little evidence that council members are actually seeking big fees for drivers. One council member who voted against the plan, Lew Fidler, expressed concerns that at the end of the day, fees would go up. “And we’re just going to move the problem from one neighborhood to the next until everybody in the city of New York is paying for the right to park on the street."

ITDP’s Kodransky thinks that permits around a stadium could work, but only if the city were will to charge "a lot" for other on-street parking spots.

“If residential permits are issued, then I think all remaining spaces should be priced with sharp increases on game day to dissuade folks from driving (especially since terrible gridlock is in fact already forecasted and outlined in the environmental impact statement). If the on-street prices remain cheaper than parking in the arena garage, drivers will certainly put in the time to look for cheaper alternatives on 5th Avenue, 7th Avenue, Vanderbilt, Fulton, Dekalb or any other commercial streets where residential permits are less likely to apply while current prices are too low for a game-day scenario.”

As Transportation Nation has reported, that’s exactly what has happened on the streets around Yankee stadium.

The city says it is studying an option for permits around arenas on game days, and promises a report in early 2012.

 

 

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Transportation Nation

Yankee Stadium Parking Woes Drag On

Friday, September 23, 2011

Empty Yankee Stadium parking garage that could become a hotel and conference center.

(New York, NY - WNYC) 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.

And 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 argued when seeking city council approval that it's 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, over many residents' objections, gave to the company. 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 will need to dip into its cash serves 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.

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WNYC News

Bronx Officials Want to Turn Yankee Parking Garage into Hotel

Monday, September 19, 2011

Calling all developers: Community leaders in the Bronx are looking for proposals to replace an underutilized garage near Yankee Stadium with a hotel and conference center.

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WNYC News

Six Indicted For Alleged Concrete Testing Fraud

Thursday, August 04, 2011

For the second time since 2008, a concrete testing laboratory has been indicted for falsifying results of inspections for major private and public projects including the Second Avenue Subway, a LaGuardia Airport Control Tower and the Fulton Street Transit Center.

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Transportation Nation

Baby We're Amaazed -- NY MTA Misspells Paul McCartney

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Paul McCartney in 2004. (Photo by The Admiralty via Wikimedia Commons)

Okay, we don't like to make unnecessary jabs for typos, because, hey, we've been known to have a few of our own. But this one is irresistible, because, as we've reported, the New York MTA board member Nancy Shevell is engaged to the former Beatle, which has got to be the highest profile engagement of any MTA board member anywhere in America.

So it caught our attention when the MTA sent out a press release with the subject line "Take Metro-North to Paul McCartnery -- yeah, yeah, yeah!"

The erstwhile teen heartthrob (is he still?) is kicking off his 2011 world tour at Yankee Stadium July 15 and 16. We wonder if his fiancée will take the train?

[As we've also reported, transit seems by far the most popular way to get to Yankee Stadium for any event -- as the garages built for the new stadium, with taxpayer subsidies, are failing.]

If you do want to take the train, here are the deets from the MTA:

Paul McCartney is launching his 2011 world tour "On the Run" at Yankee Stadium on July 15 & 16 and MTA Metro-North Railroad will provide direct service to the venue from all three lines.  Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Metro-North will operate a special schedule featuring direct service on the New Haven, Harlem and Hudson Lines, as well as convenient shuttle service from Grand Central Terminal and Harlem-125th Street Station, to the Yankees-E. 153rd Street Station. The concert begins at 8 p.m.

On Friday, a Yankee Clipper will depart New Haven at 4:45 p.m. and arrive at 6:20 p.m. and on the Harlem Line, a Yankee Clipper will depart Southeast at 3:58 p.m. and arrive at the venue at 5:20 p.m. On the Hudson Line, there is normal Bronx local service to the Yankees-East 153rd Street station.

On Saturday, special direct trains depart New Haven at 4:46 p.m. and 5:20 p.m. arriving at 6:24 p.m. and 6:57 p.m. respectively.  There also will be an all-stop local departing Stamford at 5:45 p.m. arriving 6:43 p.m. On the Harlem Line on Saturday direct trains depart Southeast at 4:38 p.m. and 5:40 p.m. arriving at 5:52 p.m. and 6:58 p.m. respectively. On the Hudson Line on Saturday an extra concert train will depart Poughkeepsie at 5:25 p.m. and arrive at the venue at 6:42 p.m.

After the concert, trains will depart 20-to-45 minutes after the concert ends, just as they do after Yankees home games.  There will be two Harlem Line direct trains and four on the New Haven Line.

For more information about the Yankees-East 153rd Street Station and service, please click here.

For information on Free/Paid Parking at stations, please click here. Please note: Backpacks and other containers are not allowed into Yankee Stadium. Check the Yankees' website for a complete list of prohibited items.

 

 

 

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Yankees Parking Garage Facing Failure

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

WNYC transportation reporter Jim O'Grady discusses his reporting on the barely used Yankees parking garage which is facing financial collapse after receiving lots of public subsidies.

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WNYC News

Yankee Stadium Neighborhood Businesses Still Hurting

Friday, November 26, 2010

WNYC

Merchants on 161st Street in the Bronx are expecting this year's holiday shopping season to be dismal, after seeing sales sag ever since the new Yankee Stadium opened more than a year and a half ago. 

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WNYC News

Main Street NYC: 161 Street Revisited

Friday, June 19, 2009

Selling wine
Manuel Mercedes was confident that his store would withstand an ailing economy and the new stadium. However, now he's not so sure. Mercedes says he wants to sell the store but with proposed new rezoning laws, potential buyers may ...

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WNYC News

All Hallows Gaels Displaced By New Yankee Stadium

Sunday, May 17, 2009

This year the Yankees kicked off their new seasons in a shiny new $1.3 billion ballpark. While fans have marveled at the culinary treats and the massive LED screen in the outfield, not everyone is so enthused. The All Hallows High School baseball team in the South Bronx is forced to play their home games on the road and often practice in the school’s cafeteria. That’s because in 2006 theirfield was demolished to make way for the new Yankee stadium. Without a regular field to practice on, the team improvises, but it has already been three years.

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning, the sun is high, it’s over 80 degrees outside, a perfect day for baseball. But three hours before their fourth game of the season members of the All Hallows Gaels, are pitching and taking swings indoors.

"Basketball gym, slash church, slash theater, slash everything."

That’s Misaell Cabral, a 16-year-old, junior. He’s the right fielder for the Gaels and is standing about mid-court while his teammate lobs a large soft dimpled ball at him. Cabral takes half-swings, not wanting to make full-contact.

"We can’t practice with actual baseballs, cause we can’t break all the windows," says Cabral. "The team practices pitching on the basketball court and batting in the cafeteria. For pop-ups they toss balls outside in a narrow courtyard next to apartment buildings. It’s concrete, it’s not really baseball material. It’s frustrating at times."

The Gaels used to play at nearby Macombs Dam and John Mullally Park, until construction of the new Yankee stadium began three years ago. State and federal law mandates that park land be replaced an acre for an acre, but due to cost delays and the discovery of barrels of oil along the waterfront, building of new parks has been delayed.

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WNYC News

Main Street NYC on The Brian Lehrer Show

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Main Streets project is spending a year looking closely at six blocks around the region. Karen Frillmann, Brigid Bergin, and Elaine Rivera discuss the goals of the project, what they've learned so far, and ...

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WNYC News

Main Street NYC: 161st Street, The Bronx

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In the Bronx at 161 st Street, just in the shadow of the new Yankee Stadium, urban planners and developers have begun the process of converting this commercial strip into a global marketplace. A massive proposed rezoning has many long time Bronx residents watching this street closely.

View of old and new Yankee Stadiums

View of old and new Yankee Stadiums

The view of the old (left) and new (right) Yankee Stadium. The old stadium will eventually be torn down.

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WNYC News

Yankee Stadium Jobs

Friday, January 30, 2009

More than 500 people lined up Thursday to apply for service industry jobs at the new Yankee Stadium. More people are expected to show up Saturday to apply for the 1000 new jobs. Applicants are told they must speak, read and write English and there will be random drug testing ...

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