SBD/Issue 75/Facilities & Venues

City Relinquishes Yankee Stadium Box Amid Criticism

City Of N.Y. Gives Up Yankees
Box That Bloomberg Aides Pursued
N.Y. city will "relinquish use" of a 12-seat box at the new Yankee Stadium "in exchange for whatever revenue the Yankees generate by selling the seats, minus the cost of marketing them," according to Fernanda Santos of the N.Y. TIMES. The market value of the suite has not been disclosed, but similar suites are being sold for "as much as $600,000 a year." The Yankees, under the new arrangement with the city, will be "allowed to keep the parking spaces and use of the billboards, and the city will be guaranteed at least $100,000 for each baseball season, even if no one buys the suite." The city's acquisition of the box had "drawn scrutiny, especially after e-mail messages surfaced in November showing that aides to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg had zealously pursued the luxury box, as well as free food and access to post-season games." The e-mails revealed that after the Yankees "made concessions over the size of the suite and the food, the team received an additional 250 parking spaces, as well as the rights to three new billboards along the Major Deegan Expressway and whatever revenue they generate" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/7). Bloomberg yesterday said that he will "sell back the perks to pump up a cash-starved treasury." A source said Bloomberg made the decision because "this has become a hot-button issue." In N.Y., David Seifman reports the Yankees "have guaranteed the city will receive at least $100,000 a year," and a "similar deal is being negotiated" with the Mets over Citi Field suites. Bloomberg aides had "fought hard to get the luxury boxes, describing the perk in internal e-mails as 'a big issue to the mayor' during negotiations with the teams in 2006." The city's decision to sell back the boxes comes "just a week before the city's Industrial Development Agency is scheduled to approve triple tax-free status for bonds the teams are securing to finish their projects -- $260[M] for the Yankees and $82[M] for the Mets" (N.Y. POST, 1/7). 

TAKING A BACK SEAT: On Long Island, Michael Frazier notes Bloomberg's administration has "for months endured criticism from state and federal lawmakers for its construction funding agreements with the Yankees and the Mets." Bloomberg spokesperson Andrew Brent: "Other cities get boxes and through our negotiations we made sure New York got no less, but we've decided to take the value in cash payments to return it to the community" (NEWSDAY, 1/7).

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