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Yankee Stadium project faulted

House panel questions finances

By Devlin Barrett
Associated Press / September 19, 2008
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WASHINGTON - A congressional panel has taken tough swings at the New York Yankees and New York City government over a new stadium for the Yankees. But neither the team nor the city budged from their positions on the $1.3 billion structure.

Representative Dennis Kucinich said yesterday that he found "waste and abuse of public dollars" in the financing of the new stadium under construction in the South Bronx.

Kucinich is an Ohio Democrat who heads a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee. He charged that city officials misrepresented to the IRS the value of the property, helping them to get special tax deals from the federal government and in effect dumping the cost of construction onto taxpayers. No one from the either the city or the Yankees spoke at the hearing.

As Kucinich spoke, New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, was in a nearby building testifying before a different House committee on global warming.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg defended the deal, calling it "a great project."

That's not how several Democrats on the panel saw it.

"In the case of the new Yankee Stadium, not only have we found waste and abuse of public dollars subsidizing a project that is for the exclusive benefit of a private entity, the Yankees, but also we have discovered serious questions about the accuracy of certain representations made by the City of New York to the federal government," Kucinich said.

The panel heard from New York State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, an outspoken critic of the deal, who charges that between $550 million to $850 million in taxpayer money has been committed to the project.

Brodksy's charges, based on city, IRS, and Yankee documents, include:

  • The city manipulated the assessed value of the stadium to meet requirements for an IRS tax exemption. That included using comparable land values in Manhattan rather than the Bronx to come up with the value for the new property.

  • City officials didn't disclose their purchase of a luxury box and extra game tickets and apparently there is no city policy on their use.

  • The $366 million in additional funding sought by the Yankees to complete the stadium would be for a large video screen, not structural costs.

    Previously, Yankee officials have accused Brodsky of factually inaccurate grandstanding.

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