And let's not forget, first in line for city approval is Bruce Ratner's proposed Brooklyn Netsplex, whose subsidy total, counting lease breaks, currently stands at $399 million. (Visit fieldofschemes.com for the full breakdown.) The best that can be said about the deal for the NBA team is that some of the public costs could be offset by new tax revenuesthe Independent Budget Office estimates $308 million in sales tax benefits, though that's reliant on Ratner's dubious assumption that half of all current Nets fans would make the trek to 718-land. The Mets and Yanks deals, meanwhile, would merely shift the same fans, and their tax boodle, across the street.
If these deals sound remarkably familiar, it's because they're cut from the same cloth as Doctoroff's now defunct Jets plan: The team pays the building tab, while the city smuggles in goodies via free land and tax breaks. Taken together, these erstwhile free lunches promise to cost taxpayers something well north of $1 billion, even as a projected $4 billion hole looms in next year's city budget. And that's without even counting simmering plans for a NASCAR track in Staten Islandor things that don't show up on the city's books, like the loss of Bronx parkland during construction or increased asthma rates from traffic drawn to the new garages.
This is city politics, of course, so things could still go awry. After all, the Jets plan was presented as a win-win at first too, before public uproar and an intransigent Sheldon Silver consigned it to history's dustbin. This time, though, there's no Cablevision to foot the bill for anti-stadium adsjust community groups like the South Bronx's newly formed Save Our Parks, which has spent the last four months blasting the city's plans at community board meetings, to deafening media silence. (The next meeting is scheduled for November 17.)
"In the Bronx, they're taking away people's parkland for a parking lot," says a puzzled Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs New York, the city's preeminent subsidy watchdog. "I'd hoped that all the attention the Jets subsidies were getting would have raised the bar on public input. For some reason, I'm not sensing the outrage."