Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Too Little, Too Late

As always seems to be the case, the prudence of spending hundreds of millions of public dollars on baseball stadiums is not seriously considered until nearly the last brick has been laid:
Days after taking office in 2002, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg killed Rudolph W. Giuliani’s plan to spend $800 million in city funds to build baseball stadiums for the Yankees and the Mets, saying they were too expensive during a recession.

Three years later, Mr. Bloomberg unveiled his own plan calling for the two teams to pay the construction costs of their new stadiums, while the city would build public parks, parking garages and transit stations nearby. The cost to taxpayers, the mayor suggested, would be relatively small and the benefits to the city would be great.“We don’t do subsidies,” Mr. Bloomberg said at the time. “The city is getting paid back at a profit.”

But as the two stadiums near completion, the cost to taxpayers is anything but small, a review of the projects shows. Though the teams are indeed paying approximately $2 billion to erect the two stadiums, the cost to the city for infrastructure — parks, garages and transportation improvements — have jumped to about $458 million, from $281 million in 2005. The state is contributing an additional $201 million.

Those totals do not include an estimated $480 million in city, state and federal tax breaks granted to both teams. In addition, neither team has to pay rent or property taxes, though they are playing on city-owned land.
It's less an article than a laundry list of spiraling expenses and questionable decisions which, at this stage of the game, are academic, and which will be forgotten before the next big city decides to help a professional sports team build a new home.

2 comments:

Pete Toms said...

I'm in a hurry, but I'm not so certain that this will all be forgotten the next time. I think there is ample evidence that the tide of public opinion on this matter has been slowly turning for years now. And what's happening in NYC is getting a lot of national media attention i.e. ESPN - because NYC is the media capital of the world.

I'd be nervous if I was Loria - it ain't a done deal yet in Miami - or Sternberg or Woolf. Am I missing anybody?

mooseinohio said...

As I have previously stated I struggle with public financing for stadiums so the more light that can shine on these deals that 'on paper' may benefit taxpayers the better. Public dollars being spent to support private businesses - you'd think this was the financial district.