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May 6, 2009

Yankee Stadium financial controversy back in court

The controversy over the financial details of the new Yankee Stadium headed back to court, with State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky going mano-a-mano with lawyers for the Yankees in hopes that the judge will force the team to release financial documents subpoenaed by the state legislator.

One point at issue is the valuation of the land. From an Albany Times Union article:

[Brodsky] was joined in court Tuesday by fellow Assemblyman James Brennan of Brooklyn, who chairs the Cities Committee. Among other arguments, Brodsky questioned the failure of accessible ticket prices and what he called an admitted violation of law in the tax assessment for the stadium grounds, which used to be a city park.

Either the land value was inflated so that the City could issue more tax-free bonds, or lowballed when the team determined the cost of the replacement park land. An examination of the "comps" used by the NYC Department of Finance suggest the former. If not for the fact that the Yankees had to replace the park land, the inflated value might not have come to light.

The same type of tax-free bond financing has been approved for Bruce Ratner's planned arena at Atlantic Yards. Watchdogs will be keeping a close eye on how NYC officials will justify the cost of the land under the arena.

Posted by lumi at May 6, 2009 5:43 AM