It's the Environment, Stupid.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Yankees vs. South Bronx

The New York Yankees have plans to build a new stadium. They’ve also extended a good will effort towards the South Bronx with a $28 million community benefits program.

According to the NYTimes article yesterday: “The draft plan calls for the trust fund to be endowed in annual increments of $700,000 over the 40-year life of the Yankees lease. It also calls for the Yankees to reserve at least 25 percent of the construction contracts for Bronx-based companies, at least half of which would be run by women or members of minorities. At least 25 percent of the construction and post-construction jobs would also go to Bronx residents. An administrator hired by the Yankees will monitor the team to ensure it is compliant, according to the draft agreement.” Plus Bronx residents will be allocated 15,000 tickets a year (I’m guessing those aren’t going to be Boston tix).

I find it a little ironic that the richest team in baseball plays in one of the poorest communities in the nation. I will admit, the only time I’ve been to the Bronx is when I’ve gone to catch a Yankee game. The 4 train goes right there, so there’s no need to expose oneself to the surrounding community. (To get a better feel for what the South Bronx truly encompasses beyond the stadium, you can take a virtual walking tour of the South Bronx with Green cooperative’s Omar Freilla, featured on Grist).

The stadium itself will cost about $800 million (although I haven’t done my research to find out if that number includes the tear down and hauling away and disposal of the house that Ruth built). The team payroll in 2005 was $208,306,817, the highest in major league baseball (followed by BoSox at $123,505,125). Is $28 million dollars in community benefits really going to make a difference in this community or is it just a good will gesture by the boys with big pockets to appease local opposition?

I’m not against new stadiums. I love watching baseball in Safeco Field as much as I loved seeing the multipurpose, concrete monstrosity known as the Kingdome implode - never again would I have to watch Seattle baseball played indoors, on astroturf. That new stadium not only revitalized baseball in the emerald city, but it helped foster a new economy in a failing area. But unlike the Bronx, Seattle's Pioneer Square and SODO (south of the Kingdome) areas don’t double as residential communities.

The last thing Bronx residents need is another facility plunked down in their neighbrohood that doesn’t take into consideration the impact on ecological and health factors.

Upon a quick search I didn’t find any talk of greening the new stadium. Last I checked LEED didn’t have a special LEED-BP for ball parks – but that hasn’t stopped the DC Sports & Entertainment Commission from proposing that the new ball park slated for the Washington Nationals will be green. (Here's a Common Dreams article that refers to it too.) Renovations of Oregon State University’s Reser Stadium (a football stadium) met green requirements. Even the proposed New York Sports and Convention Center (which I believe has recently been rejected by a state committee) is registered LEED.

If recent Yankee history is any indication, money can't buy a ticket to a world series win - what makes them think it will buy community support?

(For the record, I am not a Yankee fan. As a baseball fan, one is required to have respect for the team's history and legacy, but one cannot grow up a Seattle Mariner fan (don't laugh) and love the Yankees.)

2 Comments:

  • As a Yankee fan, that you know damn well, I feel that this is a good effort put out by them.

    But the interesting question that is rather had to find and if I were a sports writer I would want to know how many residents of the Bronx go to Yankees games now rather then how many are offered with this new stadium.

    I appreciate what they're doing and creating jobs for the disadvantaged in the Bronx. They are also using the old ball field for the current stadium as a public park with, I think, the Boys and Girls Club.

    P.S. When are we going to a ball game? I cannot wait for the season to start

    By Blogger David Press, at 02:42  

  • A virtual tour? Are you kidding me? The Bronx isn't that bad anymore. If you have enough sense to walk around most other part of the city you can handle the Bronx.

    By Blogger futurebird, at 19:34  

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