In an editorial today, the NYT rightly argues that the public should not be granting sweetheart deals to the Jets, Nets, and Yanks, all of whom are looking for monster handouts from the public to build themselves new stadia. That’s fine as far as it goes, but we haven serious qualms about the Times’s tacit endorsement of both the Nets and Yankee projects, should the financing be more equitably distributed. We’ll set the Nets project aside here, but what the paper says about the proposed new Yankee stadium in Macombs Dam Park is disturbing. Apparently, this new park would be accaptable to the paper if the team:
-spends some (how much?) money on upgrades to the South Bronx
-pays for its own garage
-replaces the parkspace it uses for its new stadium elsewhere
-preserve the stadium “facade”
Hasn’t the Times jumped the gun here? Why is it even suggesting that a new ballpark is something the City should be willing to accept under any circumstances? Shouldn’t there be some kind of public discussion here before the Times goes off making endorsements? The last point on the above list indicates just how ill-conceived the paper’s position is. Save the facade? That’s the one part of the Stadium that really does not need saving. It’s no longer “historic,” and it’s not especially distinguished. The truth is that Yankee Stadium is a dump right up to the moment you walk through one of its tunnels and that field appears before you. Then it’s a magical place. Fifty-seven thousand fans packed cheek-by-jowl and hovering right over the field. When the place is packed—and its condition seems to be doing nothing to keep people away—it’s the most electric public space in New York. This would all be lost in a new park. ADA rules don’t allow for the kind of tight seating that gives the Stadium its energy, and the paying public would be removed from the field by massive luxury suites. There’d also be less room for the public: this new Stadium will—no surprise here—charge more for fewer seats.
We could go on about why a new park is unnecessary, and how the present park might be renovated, but the point here is that the idea should not be taken as some kind of foregone and acceptable conclusion by the paper of record.