After last month's closing ceremonies we no longer have "The House That Ruth Built." It's increasingly looking like the new Yankee Stadium could most appropriately be called "The House That You Built." The decision by the IRS to give the team and the city the go-ahead to float $366 million in tax-free bonds brings the total of such outlays well over $1 billion.
If we weren't talking about public monies that could be spent on dozens of worthy projects, the fact that this news shares space in this morning's papers with Mayor Bloomberg's assertion that the economic downturn has already cost the city $1.5 billion in tax revenue would be funny. But it's not. It's pretty pathetic that a team with the bank account of the Yankees, with the multiple streams of revenue filling their coffers and with the gall to raise ticket prices by more than 100% in their new digs is getting handouts for the city because they provide 81 nights of traffic to a neighborhood that could use a lot more help.
It gets even more pathetic when you realize that the Nets are eligible for somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 million in taxpayer subsidies for their arena in Brooklyn (should they ever actually start building the thing) and that the Mets will be taking another big chunk of cash for Citi Field.
And, for a sad trifecta, the announcement comes days before Yankees officials will go before Congress to discuss allegedly fraudulent land value assessments by the city which made it possible for the project to get this kind of tax-free financing in the first place. The horse is probably too far out of the barn to be brought back, but that doesn't mean there shouldn't be a full accounting of just how little regard the city paid its citizens when putting this deal together.