At last week’s congressional hearing on Major League Baseball’s steroids scandal, Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens now infamously claimed a teammate “misremembers” their discussions about his possible steroid use. Funny, it seems Mayor Bloomberg too misremembers. In 2003 he claimed to have “essentially ended corporate welfare as we know it.” History proves otherwise.
Mega economic development projects throughout the city have been pushed forward with little input from community groups and left those advocating for accountable development scratching our heads. You only need to look to the Bronx to see the damage the subsidized new Yankee ballpark (now going up across the street from the current stadium) is doing to the city’s pocket book and to the South Bronx neighborhood whose parks were taken for it.
But the corporate baseball gravy train is on a roll. Next month the New York City Industrial Development Agency (the city’s subsidy granting arm) will hold a hearing on a proposal to subsidize TWO offices for the commissioner of Major League Baseball in Manhattan; one on Park Avenue in Midtown and one in the heart of Harlem. The city hasn’t released the value of the tax breaks but more information is expected next Friday.
I’m shocked by the Bloomberg Administration’s audacity in throwing more tax breaks at the lucrative baseball industry. As a fervent follower of the new Yankee stadium, Good Jobs New York has estimated the project will cost taxpayers over $800 million and the Mets joined in the fray with a $468 million subsidy for the new Citi Field.
To garner support from the city council the Yankees promised jobs for Bronx residents and mounds of cash to non-profit organizations. But public officials at all levels are asleep at the wheel; they haven’t verified the job figures claimed by the Yankees and the team has yet to allocate any of the resources it promised leaving some Bronx officials feeling betrayed, the Daily News reported.
Whatever the proposed subsidy figures for the MLB offices are, it will show Bloomberg is inching closer to a billion dollar taxpayer gift for baseball. Sure, the Mayor may have ended corporate welfare as we knew it but it looks to me as he’s just reinvented it.