November 9, 2008
For Sports Teams, Mayors Play Ball at the City’s Expense
The first incarnations of these deals came in the final hours of the administration of Rudolph W. Giuliani, and thus had the faint whiff of idolatry about them. (Mr. Giuliani was such a Yankees fan that he managed to buy four World Series rings from the team “at cost,” which apparently meant thousands of dollars less than their actual value. Somehow, the city’s chief executive can get discount jewelry from a sports company that was being subsidized with public funds, while the Conflict of Interest Board fined a school librarian $500 for displaying a book written by his daughter.)
The Giuliani stadium deals were immediately canceled in 2002 when a new mayor took office — the hard-headed, clear-thinking businessman Michael R. Bloomberg. With the city facing a recession and the loss of income from the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Bloomberg said New York simply could not afford them. Maybe later, he said.
Over the next few years, Mr. Bloomberg proceeded to slather new layers of icing atop the Giuliani cakes. The stadium plans were reborn, richer than ever. As a result, on Saturday, there will be one of these hokey quasi-religious ceremonies moving home plate from the old stadium across the street to the new one.
This happens the same week that Mr. Bloomberg says he has to close health clinics, shut libraries one day a week, not hire a new class of cops and raise property taxes.
Perhaps he could turn his attention to the Atlantic Yards arena, for which Bloomberg claimed in 2004, "This will be done with private money, and any city monies of any meaningful size will be debt issues financed by the extra tax revenues that come from this."
That was before the city pledged $100 million in subsidies, then added $105 million more. And the developer wants, at least, another $100 million.
Posted by amy at November 9, 2008 11:47 AM