The blogosphere is hopping with news that the Yankees and Mets are looking to get additional tax-free bonds for their new stadiums. Read carefully, though, and you’ll notice they aren’t actually new: These are the same additional Yankees bonds that Assemblymember Richard Brodsky blew the whistle on in June (word that the Mets would be seeking more money as well broke a few weeks later).
All that happened today is that the city leaked how much the teams are asking for: $259 million in tax-free loans for the New York Yankees, $83 million for the Mets. (The Yanks are also seeking an extra $111 million in taxable bonds.) In the Bronx, the added cash will go to pay for such goodies as a giant scoreboard and snazzier concessions facilities (we’re thinking gold-plated beer taps) while the Mets haven’t specified what they’ll do with their money.
Of course, $450 million in new city-sponsored bonds doesn’t mean the
city would be out that amount: They’re loans, not grants, and unlike some other borrowers, the Mets and Yanks seem likely to be around to pay them off.
No, where we lose out is in tax revenue that our city, state, and federal governments won’t collect because bondholders’ payments are tax-free.
While the city Independent Budget Office hasn’t crunched the numbers for these latest bond amounts, its previous calculations allow us to estimate how much taxpayers will be out: For the Yankees’ new bonds, the city would lose $444,000, the state $1.2 million, and the feds $54 million; for the Mets, figure $142,000 city, $379,000 state, and $17.4 million fed. (The Associated Press is reporting a $16 million city cost for the Yankees alone, but it’s unclear where they got that number from.) Whether the new bonds go forward will be decided after a public hearing by the board of the city Industrial Development Agency on January 8.
At the same time, the city also released new estimates for the ever-escalating city cost of providing “land and infrastructure” for the Yankees. According to the Times, the new estimates include $194.7 million for new parkland, $39 million towards a new Metro-North station, $32.3 million for “infrastructure and street work,” and “a $10.4 million increase in the cost of street lighting, as well as increased design, engineering and construction-management costs” — increased from what, the Times didn’t say. The last previous official figures in June were $177 million for parks, $34.5 million for infrastructure and streets, $39 million for Metro-North, and $30.4 million for “soft costs.”
So while it looks like our bill has gone up again, it’s hard to say by precisely how much. But hey, it’s not like we could use the money or anything.