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Yankees planning $800m park

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees will announce detailed plans today for a new $800 million ballpark, which would be built adjacent to the current Yankee Stadium and could be ready by the 2009 season.

The team has spent years planning the new stadium, which will have a capacity of at least 50,800, 6,000 seats fewer than the current ballpark, but could be expanded to about 54,000. It would be constructed in Macombs Dam Park, to the north of the current stadium, and financed by the team.

Yankee Stadium, which opened in 1923, is the third-oldest park in use in the major leagues, younger only than Fenway Park (1912) and Chicago's Wrigley Field (1914). Yankee Stadium was renovated extensively in 1974-75, but the team has long desired a modern ballpark with more luxury suites and wider concourses.

The stadium plan calls for the new ballpark to resemble the original Yankee Stadium in many of its details, and the dimensions of the playing field would be identical to the current ballpark. It would have 50-60 suites, up from 18 in the current stadium.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, New York's governor George Pataki, and New York City's mayor Michael Bloomberg planned to attend a news conference announcing the stadium, Steinbrenner spokesman Howard Rubenstein said. The Yankees hope to start construction in 2006 and move into the new ballpark in 2009, an ambitious timetable given the delays that frequently occur in construction in New York.

Approval from the state legislature and city council is necessary. The state would contribute about $70 million to increase parking from 7,000 spaces to 11,000, and the city would replace the lost parkland as part of the deal. A new commuter train station and expanded ferry terminal also are part of the plan.

Just last weekend, the city and the Mets announced plans for a new $600 million ballpark next to Shea Stadium. That facility would be used for the 2012 Olympics if the International Olympic Committee votes July 6 to award the event to New York.

That plan was drawn up after last week's collapse of the proposal to build a retractable-roof stadium in Manhattan for the NFL's Jets and the Olympics.

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