Check Please! Yankees Forced to Pay $11 Million After GJNY Inspired Audit

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crystalToday, New York City taxpayers finally got some Bronx cheer after an investigation by the office of City Comptroller William Thompson sent an $11 million tab to the New York Yankees.

A little over a year ago, Good Jobs New York’s staff hunkered down at the office of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation with Field of Schemes’ co-author Neil deMause to sift through boxes of receipts submitted by the Yankees as part of an agreement started under former Mayor Giuliani that permits the team to deduct “planning expenses” for the new stadium from the rent it pays to the city.

The findings were extraordinary: receipts for gifts of crystal baseballs, steak dinners, bar tabs, baseball caps, “gifts for Japan” and one of my favorites, a $76 bill for shipping batting helmets to Tropicana Field in Florida. We urged Comptroller Thompson to conduct an audit of these expenses which we thought was long overdue.

Thompson’s office came through. After reviewing documents submitted between 2003 and 2006 the auditors found several blunders akin to crystal baseballs including receipts for: $34,328 in travel expenses to other stadiums, donating $50,000 to a Political Action Committee and $359,617 in bonuses to the staff of the stadium’s developer. The Comptroller also found $1.8 million in overstated deductions for MLB revenue sharing as the team used a method not agreed to in the lease. And in what could be considered the definition of chutzpah, the team submitted receipts for 2006 expenses, even though the city let them to take two years worth of the annual $5 million credits in 2005.

The Yankees have so far paid the city $7 million along with $600,000 in interest. A little more than $4 million is still due by March 2009.   Considering the news of a possible “headcount reduction” at the NYPD and higher taxes on the city’s middle class, let’s hope the Yankees don’t take six years to pay the rest of the rent.

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