Stadiums Are Ripoff
To The Editor:
The recent announced sale for both Mets and Yankee stadium assets such as old seats, player lockers, etc, confirms once again the taxpayers and sports fans have been thrown another curve ball by Yankees and Mets owners. According to a report by the New York City Independent Budget Office, the Mets owners will receive $440 million in public subsidy and $72 million in property tax savings toward construction of their new stadium. Same for the Yankees, [who] will benefit by $600 million in public subsidy and $144 million in property tax savings. Now they want to rip off taxpayers by keeping millions of dollars in proceeds from the sale of old stadium assets!
Citizens should just say no to using public funds for any new major sports stadiums. In ancient Rome, government attempted to curry favor with the masses by offering free bread and circuses. Today, we have sports pork.
How sad that voters are continually asked to pay for new stadiums. Public dollars are being used as corporate welfare to subsidize a private-sector business. The only real beneficiaries of these expenditures are team owners and their multimillion dollar players.
It is impossible to judge the amount of new economic activities that these so-called public benefits will generate. Between selling the stadium name, season sky boxes and reserve seating, cable, television and radio revenues, concession refreshment and souvenir sales along with rental income for other sports, rock concerts and other commercial events, it is hard to believe that Yankees and Mets owners couldn't finance their new stadiums by themselves.
City officials will still have access to their own private luxury sky box, free tickets and refreshments in the comfort of a private sky box sheltered away from their sweating constituents down below in the stands. Fans [have] been robbed by team owners for direct and indirect public subsidies for construction and now cost overruns. Everyone already pays more than enough between the price of parking, tickets, refreshments and souvenirs. How many public officials received Pay for Play campaign donations from team owners, their consultants and lobbyists in exchange for public corporate welfare? Is free admission to a private luxury sky box for our elected officials a quid pro quo thank you from team owners in return for the corporate welfare they bestowed on the Yankees and Mets owners? There is a clear conflict of interest to those public officials who accept this perk not available to ordinary citizens.
Given the current municipal projected deficits of several billion dollars now and even more in upcoming Fiscal Year 2009, there are city services more worthy of investment. As Raymond Keating wrote in a past Cato Institute report, "Public subsidies pad the bottom lines of team owners and boost player salaries while offering no real economic benefit to the cities involved." Professional sports is not an essential service and shouldn't qualify for government subsidy. Increasingly scarce taxpayer funds would be better spent elsewhere. Current team owners should have floated their own bonds or issue[d] stock to finance new stadi- ums! Please don't pick the pockets of taxpayers for even more! Larry Penner Great Neck, New York