The New York Yankees and City Hall have made a deal to reward city officials with a large luxury suite and free food in exchange for giving the New York Yankees 250 additional parking spaces.
It seems to be a new kind of barter. While the poor Yankee fans pay through the nose for tickets and food -- and it may cost hundreds of dollars for a family outing at a Yankee game -- it's a different ball game for the Yankee brass and the politicians who have their snouts in the Yankee trough.
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky of Westchester has uncovered the latest wrinkle in one of the city's longest running giveaway shows – “The Yankees Fleece the Taxpayers.” Brodsky examined exchanges of emails between city officials and the Yankees and what emerged was a true steal! The Bronx Bombers and City Hall are enjoying great privileges, thanks to a deal that smells of collusion. The parking spaces, the New York Times says, were originally planned for public parking. But now these spaces will go instead to Yankee officials, players and others. Also, as part of the deal, City Hall has turned over three new billboards along the Major Deegan Expressway and whatever revenue they produce.
What about the taxpayers? Are they entitled to any benefit from the building of a new Yankee Stadium? What about the parks that were supposed to be built to replace Macombs Dam Park, a facility that the kids in my old Bronx neighborhood played in for generations? The Yankees and the city were supposed to provide substitute facilities for the people of the Bronx but officials have dragged their feet in providing them.
Brodsky told the New York Times that there's a sense of entitlement by both Mayor Bloomberg's staff and the Yankees. “There's an 'Alice in Wonderland' quality,” he said, “to the question of what is the public interest here and who's protecting it? We can't find the money for the MTA, or schools, or hospitals and these folks are used to the perks and good things of life and expect them.”
Brodsky is right. The construction of a new Yankee Stadium is supposed to benefit the city, not give perks to the big shots. It's supposed to benefit the fans, not the privileged few. Who's kidding whom?
City Hall, in defending its demand for a luxury box of its own, said: “Our goal was to make sure that New York had the same advantages as other cities, including the option to use a box, be it for small outings, for public employees or for visiting dignitaries.”
In short, the whole deal is elitist. The lowly fans have to keep paying through the nose and only the brass benefit. It's outrageous and the perpetrators of this deal should know it.
I have a modest proposal. Why don't we give the fans a break? Have a lottery to raffle off free seats for the luxury boxes. Give the fans a chance to win them. Is it too much to expect that City Hall and the most powerful sports franchise in America, at a time of great economic distress, might find it in their hearts to give something back to the fans?