Updated 01/13/2009 10:48 PM
Investigation Into Yankee Stadium Funding Yields Subpoenas, Scathing Reports
A New York State Assembly committee investigating the use of public funding for the new Yankee Stadium issued subpoenas Tuesday for a Yankee and city official, as the city comptroller accuses the mayor of incompetently handling the project. NY1's Molly Kroon filed the following report.
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City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson said the city struck out with its deal with the Yankees for their new stadium.
"Was this plain old incompetence or a blatant attempt to mislead the public? Either way New Yorkers now have a box seat view of fiscal mismanagement," said Thompson.
Thompson's report accuses the city and the Yankees of undervaluing how much the stadium would cost taxpayers by hundreds of thousands of dollars, saying construction and demolition estimates were low-balled and the city has given up millions of dollars in revenue for naming rights, parking spaces and billboards.
"It's just the latest in a long list of examples of the city failing to protect the taxpayers," said Thompson.
In 2006, the city negotiated a deal with the Bronx Bombers that gave the team nearly $1 billion in bonds for construction of the new stadium. But it's been controversial from the start.
Just last week, the mayor's office gave up a free luxury box it had negotiated as part of the deal. And now, the Yankees are back for more public funding, asking for roughly $400 million in new bonds to complete the project.
Meanwhile, a state assembly committee has slapped a subpoena on the president of the Yankees. Randy Levine said he'll step up and testify at a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
Seth Pinsky was also subpoenaed. He's the head of the city's Industrial Development Agency which negotiated the deal.
The committee's chairman, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky of Westchester, said the city and the Yankees have withheld important documents on the project -- something they deny.
"It's clear they want to do this in secrecy," said Brodsky.
A mayoral spokesperson defended the deal and pointed out Thompson, a member of the city's IDA board, voted for it two years ago, saying in a statement:
"It makes for good political theater for him today, but it's hard to believe he doesn't know that the deal leverages a federal program and will result in New York City getting back more tax revenue than it will cost and the South Bronx getting thousands of new jobs and more than $1 billion in private investment. He is, after all, the comptroller."
The city's development agency will hold a public hearing on the additional bonds on Thursday and then vote Friday.
Both Brodsky and Thompson are calling for the vote to be postponed.