Friday, April 1, 2011

City Priorities Revealed in Yankee Stadium Deal

As the NY Times reports this morning, the replacement parks that were authorized because the city took the original greenery away in order to build Yankee Stadium have still not been completed: "On Thursday, the New York Yankees began their regular season at Yankee Stadium, a gleaming $1.5 billion behemoth that opened in the Bronx in 2009 as the new home of one of the richest franchises in sports.

But next to the stadium is a lingering eyesore – a protracted construction project that was supposed to have been transformed into three public ball fields months ahead of opening day. Instead, some coaches and neighborhood residents say, it remains a joyless Mudville. Just as the new stadium was enveloped in controversy, from its financing to its ticket prices, the construction of the three fields has also prompted debate."

This is emblematic about the way the city rolls-quick expensive responses to the corporate interests, while the little people suck hind teat waiting for their meager handouts: "The city promised to build the fields, which are starting to take shape directly across 161st Street to the south of the stadium, to replace others that were bulldozed in 2006 to make way for the stadium.The razed fields, in Macombs Dam Park, were the only regulation baseball diamonds nearby, and were home to neighborhood pickup games and youth leagues, and to teams from schools like All Hallows High School, a parochial institution several blocks away."

Five years? The stadium, on the other hand was a priority-full speed ahead for the Yankees. CM Foster tells it like it is: "The fields were originally to be completed late last year, as the centerpiece of Heritage Field, a 10-acre park where the former Yankee Stadium stood. But the groundbreaking was delayed until last June, and city officials now say the fields will not open until fall 2011. “They built the new stadium in record time, but building replacement parkland for the community is literally dragging,” said Helen Foster, who represents the neighborhood on the City Council. “I guarantee you if this was another neighborhood, this project would have been fast-tracked.”

As usual, the replacement space doesn't match the original beauty lost: "Geoffrey Croft, a frequent critic of the parks department, found fault with the parkland project as shortchanging local residents by putting the new stadium on what was a large, contiguous parcel of natural space, only to replace that property with “scattered and inferior” parks with much less vegetation and natural growth, more artificial surfaces and fewer ball fields."

The main reason for the delay says it all about priorities: "Ms. Foster and other critics blamed city officials for the Heritage Field delays, saying they allowed the old stadium to remain intact long after the team’s final season there, so items could be painstakingly removed for sale as memorabilia."

Here is the bottom line: The memorabilia needed to be preserved so it could be sold at top dollar; the community was simply sold out. Just as it is with Willets Point and all of the property owners and immigrant workers. Trample on the rights of those with little power in order to aggrandize those corporate interests that will always take center field for the mayor and his cohort of billionaire boys. The real Bloomberg Boys of Summer.