As stadiums rise, so do costs to taxpayers

In New York, the building of two new baseball stadiums for the Yankees and the Mets are costing taxpayers more than they bargained for. In the early stages, the Yankees project was estimated to cost about $1 billion, now it is expected to cost $1.7 billion, making it the most expensive ballpark in the country. The Mets project was estimated to cost $645 million, now it's closer to $900 million, says the New York Times.

These rising price tags mean public costs have grown as well, continues the Times:

  • Yankee Stadium is being built atop two popular public parks; the city has agreed to replace them but the estimated cost has climbed to $177 million from $129.2 million in 2005.

  • The city is responsible for the tens of millions of dollars it will cost to demolish the old Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium.

  • The city is also spending about $35 million for roadwork and sewer connections for the stadium and $30 million more on design and planning, items that were not mentioned when the project was announced in 2005.

  • The state contributed $70 million toward the $240 million cost of building 3 garages with 3,160 spaces at the new Yankee Stadium; the city issued $170 million in tax-exempt bonds on behalf of the private garage operator.

  • Additionally, the city provided both teams with a variety of tax breaks, which are estimated to amount to a public-sector loss of a total of $479.8 million.

    However, city officials dismiss the notion that they have lost revenues by extending those tax breaks, saying that the parks and parking lots where the new stadiums are being built do not currently generate taxes. Further, they say that it is unlikely that the stadiums would have been built without the tax breaks.

    The expanding public cost of stadiums has fuelled debate about their economic benefits, and has become an issue in Congressional hearings into the use of tax-exempt bonds for stadium construction, says the Times.

    Source: Charles V. Bagli, As Stadiums Rise, So Do Costs to Taxpayers, New York Times, November 5, 2008.

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    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 11 November 2008
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