SBJ/October 5 - 11, 1998/No Topic Name
Will 2.95 million fans be enough?
Published October 5, 1998
Advocates of keeping the New York Yankees in the Bronx had hoped to present team owner George Steinbrenner with 3 million reasons why the club should stay put.
But the team fell just short of drawing 3 million regular-season fans, the attendance figure Steinbrenner said was needed to keep the Yankees in their ancestral home. Instead, the team attracted 2.95 million fans, a team record by more than 300,000 but 1.67 percent short of 3 million.
Will Steinbrenner refuse to discuss keeping the Yankees in the Bronx because of 50,000 fewer fans, essentially one sellout?
"Rather than to go on any technicality like that, what Steinbrenner has been saying is at the end of the season he will announce where he wants the team to relocate, either the Bronx, the west side of Manhattan or New Jersey," said Howard Rubenstein, Steinbrenner's spokesman. The Yankees' stadium lease expires in 2002.
New Jersey will not be the first option, Rubenstein said. "His preference is to stay in New York."
Meanwhile, political fireworks exploded again over Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer's $535 million plan to refurbish Yankee Stadium and create a waterfront park.
The project would add 120 luxury suites to the stadium, restore the original exterior facade and add more parking spaces and a rail link to Westchester County. A commercial and retail shopping center and sports entertainment complex are part of the project.
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani mocked the plan as a watered-down version of New York's own proposal from four years ago. Giuliani now wants to move the team into Manhattan.
But New York Gov. George Pataki recently said the team should stay in the Bronx. Pataki is running for re-election against New York City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, who managed to get a referendum on the November ballot asking voters to reject a Yankees move out of the Bronx. Giuliani is trying to have the referendum removed. The dispute will be decided in court.
Once the Yankees' season ends, however, attention will turn back to Steinbrenner for his decision.
"We'll reach 3 million by Wednesday's playoff game, so are we splitting hairs here?" asked Clinton Roswell, a spokesman for Ferrer.
Steinbrenner is still being wooed by Cablevision Systems Corp., which wants to add the Yankees to its group of sports team. So, in the end, the decision on where to play may not even be Steinbrenner's to make