• Sumo

By Ken Reed

When the New York Yankees wanted a new stadium in the Bronx, they took 25 acres of public parkland from the South Bronx community for the project. As a good faith gesture, they created a charity called the New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund.

The supposed intent was to distribute nearly $40 million in cash grants and sports equipment, as well as 600,000 baseball tickets, to community organizations in the Bronx over four decades. However, after 10 years, an analysis revealed that the Yankees community fund has largely neglected their poor neighbors living near the stadium. Money from the fund often goes to wealthier parts of the Bronx. The analysis by The New York Times also revealed there is very little oversight or public accountability for the fund.

“The funding and energy only goes to a select few,” says Agnes Johnson, a member of the South Bronx Community Congress, a group of neighborhood activists who have tried to monitor the Yankee Stadium community fund.

The fund is “like a deep, dark secret,” says Joyce Hogi, a board member of the Bronx Museum and someone who has been involved in local nonprofits for decades. The fund’s annual report has never been publicly released.

Oh, and what about those donated tickets to Yankees games? No public records exist showing where the 15,000 tickets that are supposed to be distributed every year are going.

The New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund should be renamed “The New Yankee Stadium Slush Fund” because that’s largely how it operates.

The Yankees should be ashamed.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans

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