Fool me once
Letter to the Editor
RAMON J. JIMENEZ, Attorney and activist | 2/20/2014, 3:41 p.m.
Fool me once
By RAMON J. JIMENEZ
Attorney and activist
I want to tell you a tale of life and death.
When the New York Yankees sought approval for the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, they made many promises, among them construction jobs, future permanent employment, more customers for local businesses and contributions to community groups. They hired a community activist as a consultant to sing the praises of the new stadium. They made sure to make the right political contributions to the key political decision makers. Based on these promises, the South Bronx approved the stadium. A new day would dawn on the South Bronx, and a new, better life would follow.
Well, that was the life part of this tale. You know what part comes next.
Many of these promises have gone unfulfilled. Most of the limited number of permanent jobs that have been created for community residents are actually seasonal, and most pay close to the minimum wage. Any construction jobs that were obtained were the result of the militancy of a local minority construction worker group, Positive Workforce. The local businesses that thought they would greatly benefit from the millions coming to see the new stadium have been shut out by barricades that often separate ticket holders from local businesses.
The $1 million annual yielding that was supposed to go to the community impacted by the stadium instead has been divided among all Bronx neighborhoods, including Riverdale and Throgs Neck. The grants are very small and require immense paperwork, so of course, they usually go to the better staffed and more organized groups, usually found in more affluent communities. The community groups situated in the neighborhoods actually impacted by the stadium have received a small percentage of the grants.
A 2011 study cited by Bill Moyers found that 3,400 stadium jobs paid a median wage of $10.50 for non-managerial positions. Meanwhile, the Yankees grabbed $50 million in tax breaks, $326 million in capital improvements, $1.2 billion in tax-exempt bonds and 24 acres of parks that had been previously owned by the public.
Once again, the promise that a new stadium would bring prosperity and economic uplift to the surrounding community has been refuted. Taxpayers are being deprived of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue just for the construction of a new stadium.
The Bronx is now the capital of corporate welfare for powerful individuals and corporations that build sports stadiums or facilities. Donald Trump’s new golf course in Throgs Neck was built with $120 million in tax money. Along with this, Trump will pay a sweetheart rate while having a 20-year deal on all concessions. The new Kingsbridge National Ice Center is expected to receive millions in tax breaks.
And now, a new sports stadium is planned for the South Bronx. The reports indicate that the deal would involve a new soccer stadium costing about $350 million, largely paid for with city funds. In addition, the new soccer franchise would not have to pay rent for 42 years. It would be 80 percent owned by Sheik Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whose family is the fifth richest in the world, while the Yankees would own the other 20 percent.