At your invitation-only “groundbreaking” on August 16, you professed that “It’s a pleasure to give this to you people,” as if you were giving to south Bronx residents, the taxpayers and the fans, rather than taking from them.
Perhaps “you people” were the many compliant politicians who fell all over themselves to approve your plans, virtually skipping thorough public debate and process altogether. Or maybe “you people” were the well-connected developers eager to get their hands on another neighborhood. Either way, I’m sure they are all dreaming of securing further deals behind the closed doors of their luxury suites at a new stadium.
But what you are “giving” to south Bronx families and residents is less opportunity for their recreation, more pollution, and unease over developers’ unknown intentions for their neighborhood. You have seized their centrally-located parkland and are reportedly in the process of cutting down nearly 400 mature trees to make way for a new stadium. In a dubious proposal to offset this loss of parkland, other park spaces are to be created in three years. But these are scattered farther away — much of it across a highway — with little value and utility to the same residents.
In addition, the plans call for parking garages and 4,000 more parking spaces that will result in further contamination of the already heavily polluted neighborhood while discouraging transit ridership.
What you are “giving” the taxpayers is a bill for $422 million or so in land giveaways, tax breaks, and supporting infrastructure and transit costs. In a new stadium — owned by a development company, which is owned by the city — your “rent” payments would no longer go to the city treasury, but instead toward paying off the taxable share of the construction bonds. Plus, you would no longer pay property taxes at a new stadium.
But the gravy train doesn’t stop there. In a recent piece for the Village Voice, Neil deMause reported on a taxpayer-soaking lease clause cooked-up by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani during his final week in office in 2001. Your big-money lobbyists who pressured city and state officials to approve the stadium plan were actually paid for by city taxpayers. That lease clause allowed you to deduct up to $5 million a year in “stadium planning” costs from your current Yankee Stadium rent payments to the city. Apparently, lobbying elected officials for public money and approval of the stadium deal counts as “stadium planning.”
And while you claim to be paying for the vast majority of the $1.3 billion stadium project, it turns out your share really comes to about $492 million according to deMause. In addition to the $422 million public cost, about $136 million would come from subtracting stadium construction debt from your gross revenues — money that you are allowed to withhold from your revenue-sharing responsibility to Major League Baseball. And private developers are paying $250 million toward parking garages.
And finally, what you are “giving” the fans of the Yankees is 4,000 fewer seats per game, higher ticket prices and a wrecking ball to history. What’s left of affordable seats would be placed much farther away from the field, above and behind the luxury suites and club seats that would become the priority. Average fans would long for the days of the wonderfully intimate upper deck at Yankee Stadium.
From the days of Ruppert and Huston to present, fans have watched historic games at Yankee Stadium, and collected memories that will stay with them forever. They watched the likes of my own childhood hero, Lou Gehrig, along with Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson and Don Mattingly. They witnessed the month of October like no other fans have.
Instead of destroying a national treasure like Yankee Stadium to build yet another replica of everyone else’s new stadium/”mallpark”, you should use those private funds that you’ve been publicizing and make the needed updates and improvements on Yankee Stadium to fulfill contemporary requirements and deepen historic roots. Nothing can compare to the real thing, and there is nothing that a new stadium can provide that Yankee Stadium cannot. You have the opportunity to make a great shrine of the national pastime even better, as was done for Fenway Park in Boston.
If you truly believe in the extraordinary relationship between the Yankees and the community that has made the franchise so special, then you can surely respect the virtues of historic preservation and its benefits to society. Preservation is good business and contributes much to the quality of peoples’ lives. Yankee Stadium is a perfect example, as it maintains a link with New York’s past and connects the citizens with the experiences of the people who came before them, in turn giving us a better understanding of our connectedness. When such an amazing part of Americana as Yankee Stadium is destroyed, all the lessons that it has offered are mostly forgotten and lost over time.
Would your conscience be clear as you repay this peerless ballpark by leveling it? It’s not too late. You still have the chance to do the right thing.
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon