Out of Left Field
We Dont Need Your Stinkin' Stadiums
Typical reaction of New Yorker
when he finally learns true cost
of new stadium to NYC taxpayers.
Needy NYC should give
new stadiums low priority
Neither the city nor the state has a dime to spare. Subway lines are falling apart Plans for critically-needed school construction are being deferred. After-school programs which are lifelines for many youngsters have to be shut down because they are not affordable. [New York] is a city of some eight million people that dangerously short-changes its Fire Department because money is hard to come by. Its a city that has been unable, due to budget constraints, to reach contract agreements with crucial city employees, including firefighters, police officers and teachers.
Bob Herbert. NY Times columnist
By STAN ISAACS
A farce is unfolding these days before the eyes of the Big Apple, nee Fun City, with the plans to involve public money in the erection of stadiums for the Yankees and Mets. A smokescreen of hype about the teams building the stadiums with their own money is hiding the fact that the public, as always, will be footing at least some of the bill.
It comes down to this: Any money spent by the public to help millionaires build a playground for their pet millionaires to play in is an obscenity.
Here are some of the items that somehow get lost in the hoo and ha in some of the public prints surrounding the unveiling of stadium plans:
* The Mets deal requires the city and the state to chip in $180 million for infrastructure so the team can move to the parking lot next door to its Flushing Meadows home. The Mets will get to play on city parkland without paying rent or taxes and reportedly will even get to keep the first $7 million in parking revenues.
* The new ballparks will use tax-exempt bonds issued by the city that will save both teams millions of dollars in annual debt payments to the public trough.
* The state will spend $70 million to build three new garages with 4,000 to 5,000 spots at the new Yankee Stadium and reportedly get all the parking revenues.
* If the Olympics come to New York (dont anybody hold their breath on that) another $250 million in public and private money will help adapt the field for Olympic events.
History tells us that all of this may just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to revealing what the public will actually have to fund.
The Mets stadium represents Mayor Michael Bloomburgs embarrassing turnabout following the failure of his grandiose plans to help build a stadium on Manhattans west side for the New York Jets football team with which he hoped to lure the 2012 Olympics.
The Jets are owned by the multi-millionaire Woody Johnson (of the Johnson & Johnson mint). He earned a niche in the let-them-eat-cake school of Marie Antoinette. When told that football fans love to tail-gate in parking lots before games and that the proposed Manhattan stadium would not have much parking room space, Johnson said, Let them tailgate in New Jersey and take the ferry across to Manhattan.
When Bloomberg was lusting for the West Side site for his Jets-Olympic boondoggle, he rejected Queens, an obviously more logical place for an Olympic venue. He said such an alternative would be unglamorous, unaffordable, and ultimately, untenable. He said, Shea Stadium is not of the same order of magnitude or grandeur that the other cities have either promised to build or already have.
When the Manhattan project was turned down by wiser heads, Bloomberg said, We have let down America. With the republic somehow managing to carry on anyway, he rebounded with his Mets-Olympic project and said, hardly missing a beat, New Yorkers arent quitters.
The International Olympic Committee will select the 2012 Olympic site on July 6. Paris is considered the leading candidate over London. New York? Eh!
A victory for Paris might also be a victory for New Yorks school children, firefighters, police and teachers if the city turned its attention to its real needs.
I enjoyed Tiger Woods battles with his Nike shirt during the recent U.S. Open golf tournament. Starting the second round, Woods hit his drive into the rough because he was hampered by his Nike shirt catching against the right side of his body. On the next hole his caddy cut out a swatch beneath the sleeve of his Nike shirt and Woods played the rest of the round with a hole showing and threads hanging from his Nike shirt.
If I seem to be overdoing mention of it being a Nike shirt, it is because I think the TV announcers and some of the newspaper reports didnt show proper appreciation of the irony of the multi-million dollar companys product failing their man Woods at the most important golf tournament. Woods is Nikes No. 1 poster boy; it heaps millions upon him. He sports the Nike swoosh whenever he is seen in public, so I believe one of its exalted products deserved the glare of the media spotlight at this time above all others.
Too Many Cooks?
The image of the lonely gunfighter hardly applies to some of the big-name golfers. Before the U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson visited the Pinehurst, NC course with:
1. His short-game guru,
2. His swing coach,
3. His caddie.
Mickelson finished in a nine-way tie for 33rd place.
©2005 by Stan Isaacs. The Stan Isaacs caricature is ©2001 by Jim Hummel. The cartoon is from IMSI's Master Clips Collection, 1895 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael, CA, 94901-5506, USA. This column first posted June 27, 2005.
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