As you read this, the Yankees have requested that the city and state supply them with an additional $259 Million in tax-exempt bonds for completing the new stadium. This would result in the city and state losing $80 Million in tax revenue. At a time when the economy is not doing well and I don’t really think most people can afford to pay additional taxes, this is not right and should not happen. Furthermore, this means nearly 15% of what the city and state are allowed to give in tax-exempt bonds will be lost to the Yankees – money that could be used to improve infrastructure, housing and/or transportation issues that the city and state need to improve.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Yankees. I have since the day I was born and I always will. I appreciate that the Steinbrenner family has not made money off this team since 2003 in order to field a winning team for fans such as myself. But I too have paid the price – $70-200 per seat to watch a game I can see on TV for free and over $8 for a beer that is sold in 30-packs for $12.99 outside the stadium. I do this all out of my love for the Yankees.
But this cannot happen. While the Yankees are projected to earn over $300 Million in revenues yearly just from the new stadium and will probably earn a significant amount of money this year despite the economy lagging, they need to foot this bill themselves. The time is simply not right. While other teams are slashing ticket prices and payroll, the Yankees are increasing prices drastically and have committed to spending more money this off season then all the other teams combined – $423.5 Million for 3 free agents vs. $372.2 Million for 46 free agents.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not arguing that the Yankees are not spending their money wisely (OK, I’ll admit the Burnett payday is a little over-the-top, but that’s a different story) nor am I arguing that the Yankees are spending too much overall, because they’re not. In fact, I’ll argue with anyone about how the Yankees spend money – they run the team like a business and the business goal is to win. And that’s a great business mantra. If your team doesn’t, then I’m sad for you that your team doesn’t care about you as much.
But don’t spend money like you are a top business and then run back to Mr and Mrs Taxpayer and ask them to give you even more money – especially after the team got $940 Million in tax exempt bonds already! This was my whole problem with giving money to the automobile companies – don’t run your business like you are a top company when you clearly are not. The automobile companies wanted money from the government at the same time that their CEO’s and other executives were flying around in corporate jets and making tons of money while their businesses tanked.
Now these two situations are grossly different, but the idea remains the same – you can’t have your cake and eat it too. The Yankees need to back down from this one and eat the costs. I have no problem with giving them bonds – let the team have non-exempt bonds and let them pay it back in the distant future. But they should be non-exempt bonds that require them to pay the taxes, cause I shouldn’t have to! I didn’t ask for a new stadium – I would have gladly watched the Yankees in the old stadium with no problems.
The Yankees should step back and say “we care about the future of this city and state” and drop their request for tax exempt bonds. Its the right thing to do.