The controversy around the public financing of the new Yankee Stadium heated up this week as a New York State legislator and a member of Congress put the squeeze on the team and New York City officials who helped finance the $1.3 billion stadium.
Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Domestic Policy, New York Assemblyman Richard Brodsky revealed that his summer-long investigation into the public financing of the new stadium shows that the city’s job creation figures and property tax assessments might not be up to par. And Rep. Dennis Kucinich, chairman of the Subcommittee who has held two previous hearings on the use of tax-exempt bond financing for stadiums said:
“In the case of the new Yankee Stadium, not only have we found waste and abuse of public dollars subsidizing a project that is for the exclusive benefit of a private entity, the Yankees, but also we have discovered serious questions about the accuracy of certain representations made by the City of New York to the federal government.”
What did the city have to say in its defense? Two days prior to the hearing, New York City’s head of the Economic Development Corporation canceled his appearance at the hearing stating that the crumbling financial industry required that he remain in New York. The Yankees who declined an invitation to attend this hearing will come before the committee October, 7th. Kucinich’s committee is negotiating when the city might testify.
There was little new subsidy news for those us watching the Yankees ‘ tax scheme come undone as GJNY and others like Neil deMause, author of Field of Schemes, have reported the growing and outlandish subsidies for the project. But accusations by Brodsky (who represents a portion of the northern suburbs) before Congress that city officials may have helped America’s wealthiest sports team cook the books shed new light on this project and could prevent the team from getting the additional tax-free bonds they’ve requested.
IDA on the Defense
Yesterday, the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) released a “fact vs fiction” sheet countering many of Brodsky and Kucinich’s accusations. After tracking the IDA for over eight years, we’ve never seen the agency respond with such an accounting.
What really caught our eye were the IDA job figures. Brodsky claims documents he received from the IDA state only 15 permanent jobs are associated with the project. The IDA retorts that the Yankees’ 2006 application for benefits stated 140 full time and 950 part-time jobs will be created. But the employment section of the application released prior to a hearing in 2006, hasn’t been made public. Adding to the confusion is the IDA’s most recent annual report that projects 614 jobs for the new stadium.