So, the Yankees have $430.5 million for three top-tier free agents, but they don’t have $370 million for upgrades to their new stadium, toys that will allow them to charge even more money for tickets and, as a result, sign even more top-tier free agents? That’s exactly the charge being levied in an article from the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, which breaks down the $370 million of taxpayer money that’s being used to help finance the final stages of construction on New Yankee Stadium.
As only the Steinbrenner family could, the Yankees apparently have the gall to ask for $14.2 million for a scoreboard, $10.7million for a giant video board and $10.4 million in luxury suite upgrades while the country is in a crippling recession, not to mention the fact that New York City itself is expected to be hit much harder because of falling real estate values and overwhelming unemployment from the rolling demise of a number of Wall Street firms.
Of course, the Mets are also asking for more money for stadium upgrades, but it’s fair to say that the senior circuit’s New York team is a tad more cautious and, dare we say, reasonable: The Mets want a total of $13 million for their scoreboards and restaurant space, while the Yankees’ luxury upgrades add up to a whopping $95 million.
And what euphemism have team executives cooked up to try and make this brash late-date luxury addendum seem more legitimate? They’re calling them “scope modifications.” Scope modifications. As if the scope of the Yankees’ annual performance demands would ever change. Come on.
(That luxury suite sure looks crappy to me. Give ‘em another $10M.)
That the requests were released the day that the team introduced new uber-ticket free agent Mark Teixeira, whom they spent $180 million to sign, is almost cripplingly ironic. It should also be a beacon of action for New York politicians, who have to sign off on the new stadium plans. Only one politican has publicly campaigned against the additions with conviction — Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky — and he made a pair of truly cogent points. Here’s the line he gave to the DAILY NEWS when reached on the issue yesterday:
“When we’re broke and we can’t fund the MTA and we can’t fund schools, to give the Yankees another $400 million is bizarre. … It’s terrific that they want to have a Hard Rock Cafe and a steakhouse there, but why should the taxpayer pay for that?” Brodsky said.
Alright, so let’s check the old NYC priorities board. Pending an approval in the forthcoming vote on the new funding requests, here’s what the city’s hierarchy of needs would look like, Abraham Maslow-style: 1) Yankee Stadium scoreboard, 2) Yankee Stadium giant video board, 3) Yankee Stadium luxury suite upgrades, 4) Combined project for Citi Field restaurant space, scoreboards and security upgrades, 5) Yankee Stadium restaurant space, 6) Yankee Stadium Hard Rock cafe addition, 7) desperately needed MTA upgrades, 8 ) even more desperately needed public education enhancements (have you ever been in a New York City public school? Yikes!).
If you’re a Yankees fan and you can read that and still root for your team — and its owners — with a clean conscience, you might want to breathe on a mirror. If you don’t see your breath, it’s official: You’ve lost your soul.