The New York City Industrial Development Agency's board of directors approved millions of dollars in new bonds for the Mets and Yankees so they could complete construction of their new stadiums. The bonds had become a bone of contention between the teams, particularly the Yankees, and lawmakers who thought that private companies shouldn't be benefitting from tax-exempt financing.
The quest for $370 million ($80 million for the Mets) in additional funds was the subject of childish sniping back and forth between Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky and Yankees president Randy Levine all week long. In the end, actually long before the end, it seemed like a platform for Brodsky to raise his profile since the team and the city were so far down the road that denying the bonds simply wasn't going to happen.
Which, of course, doesn't mean that they should have gone through. Whatever your feeling about the initial handout of bonds from the city, cost overruns shouldn't come out of the city's pocket as well. As part of their defense of the money, the teams say they are paying for the construction, via servicing the bonds they were handed, which should mean they are responsible for getting the work done. There's also the sticking point that Jim Dwyer of the New York Times raised on Wednesday, namely that they city is responsible for plenty of auxillary building and demolition that will come directly out of tax revenues.
As mentioned, the teams are responsible for paying back the bonds, but will be exempt from property taxes as a result. There's a limited pool of borrowing the city has available and it's more than fair to ask if private baseball stadiums are the best use of that money. Especially when it seems that the city monkeyed around with how much the land was worth before getting the financing in the first place.
With today's vote, though, all those issues were moved off the stage. Look for them to return as we get closer to Election Day, though, when Mayor Bloomberg's opponents question how much he's doing for New York's average citizens compared to corporate ones.