Yanks Reach First Place … In Stadium Subsidies


The House That Your Taxes Built: The new Yankee Stadium and the old, soon to be demolished one

Photo by Christopher Pierro

One of the enduring questions about the new Yankee Stadium, now rising like a supersized doppelganger in the former public park across the street from the House That Ruth Built, is precisely how much the Bronx Bombers’ new playpen will cost taxpayers.

Two summers ago, Mayor Bloomberg announced the project as “the state helping the way, but George [Steinbrenner] footing the bill,” but even then the city admitted that it would be spending $135 million on replacement parks and “infrastructure.” A subsequent Voice analysis of the numerous tax rebates, lease kickbacks, and tax-free financing put the total taxpayer outlay at $374 million; the following March, the subsidy-watch group Good Jobs New York issued a report that upped the ante to $478 million.

Now that all the bills are starting to come in, Good Jobs has released a new report, “Insider Baseball,” and with it a new estimate of the cost to taxpayers: $663.5 million. Not only is that nearly five times what the mayor claimed back in 2005, it would represent the most costly public stadium subsidy in U.S. history—surpassing the $611 million that Washington, D.C., is spending on a new stadium for the Nationals, a deal that even one of the District councilmembers who voted for it said she wished she could “throw into the ocean.”

“It’s obviously not the first time there were major cost overruns associated with a large development project in the city,” Good Jobs research analyst Dan Steinberg tells the Voice—the city’s $100 million
cost for Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards project, he notes, mysteriously “leaped to $205 million” earlier this year, while the 1970s renovation of Yankee Stadium was initially budgeted at $24 million before ballooning to a final price tag of $101 million. Some of the new items taxpayers will be stuck with the tab for:

  • The $135 million estimate for replacement parkland lasted only until the week before the council vote to approve the new stadium, when the city raised that figure to $160 million; it jumped to $195 million in Bloomberg’s most recent capital budget. (Underestimating projected stadium costs is a time-honored tradition in the stadium biz—a D.C. official told the Washington Post that his city had intentionally lowballed its contingency budget in order to secure city council approval.) As for what the added money is going for, it’s hard to say—one new line item in the capital budget, says Steinberg, is listed only as “new Yankee Stadium.”