Mayor Bloomberg and the rest of New York City's fathers won't be able to enjoy games from a free luxury box when the new Yankee Stadium opens. After the revelation that the city traded free parking spots and billboards to the team for a suite, which retails in the neighborhood of $600,000, was met with intense and justified criticism, they reached a deal where the Yankees would sell the suite instead and give the proceeds to the city.
The city is currently negotiating a similar deal to rid themselves of their suite at Citi Field. It's a pretty small gesture at this point, especially when you realize that $400 million in municipal bonds and public money will likely be handed over to the two teams after a hearing next week. Add that to the $1.5 billion that's already gone to the two private baseball teams, that $600,000 suddenly seems pretty insignificant.
“Does the Bloomberg administration really think that giving up a suite at Yankee Stadium is going to soften the blow that this project has had on city taxpayers?” said Bettina Damiani, director of Good Jobs New York, a civic organization that has closely scrutinized projects subsidized by the city, including the new baseball stadiums.
More likely, the Bloomberg administration entered into all of these deals during better economic times and didn't think anyone would get too upset because times were good. It hasn't played out that way, and as New Yorkers see their subway fares rising and taxes placed on everything from iTunes to Coke, it became bad politics to be so brazenly enjoying perks of your position.
Actually, it was always bad politics. Finding ways for personal gain at the expense of public money is the very definition of bad politics. But, as they say, timing is everything.