SBD/Issue 234/Sports Media

Down In The Count: MLB Net's Plan For Harlem HQs Falling Apart

Plans For MLB Net HQs
In Harlem Unraveling
Real estate execs and government officials indicated that MLB's plan to build the HQs for its upstart MLB Network in Harlem is "unraveling," according to Charles Bagli of the N.Y. TIMES. The net, scheduled to debut in January, was set to be the anchor tenant of a new office building at 125th St. and Park Ave., but real estate execs and government officials said that MLB officials are "balking at new lease terms proposed by the developer, Vornado Realty Trust, that would have required them to take additional space and pay $2[M] a year more in rent." Construction on the tower was supposed to begin in April, but the dispute now has placed the future of the entire building "in jeopardy." MLB Net execs, who had expected to move into the building in Spring 2010, "now expect to remain" in Secaucus, New Jersey, "at least until the start of the baseball season in 2011." Vornado, in an effort to keep the project afloat, "offered to sell the land to the MLB Network at cost, or to build it a five-story building for its exclusive use." However, Vornado instead "focused on a third option: slicing off about one-third of the building's height, to cut the overall cost of the building by $100[M]." Vornado also sought "additional subsidies from the state as well as a higher rent, about $15 more per square foot," or $2M annually, but that "infuriated baseball officials." MLB Net had "wanted to be in a marquee tower on 125th Street, not a generic office building" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/23).

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