Another attempt to salvage something positive from the Yankee Stadium parking boondoggle is underway. The company that operates the garages, having defaulted on hundreds of millions in triple-tax exempt bonds, has issued a request for proposals for the sublease and redevelopment of two lots.
Even back in 2007 and 2008, when the NYC Economic Development Corporation (via the Industrial Development Agency) closed the deal before an economic feasibility study could be completed, and Albany authorized the seizure of public parkland, the writing was on the wall. Other than the EDC, the Yankees, and the Bronx Parking Development Company, most anyone could see that a new stadium with fewer seats, a new Metro-North station, and acres of existing (EDC-financed) parking nearby wouldn’t need 2,000 more parking spaces than Tropicana Field.
Yet here we are: a 9,000-spot parking complex that’s at 38 percent capacity on game days, and all but empty in the off-season. According to the city’s Independent Budget Office, Bronx Parking missed its April payment to bondholders, and the company has yet to pay the city a cent in rent or payments in lieu of taxes. City and state taxpayers are at the back of the line, since the deal was structured so bondholders are paid first.
Responses to the RFP were due June 5, according to the IBO. A 2011 request for expressions of interest to develop a hotel to complement or replace the garages fell through when all potential developers wanted — you guessed it — subsidies from the city. And Neil deMause reports on Field of Schemes that the sites proffered in the RFP aren’t big enough to accommodate a Major League Soccer facility — though the Queens Chronicle notes that a new soccer arena near Yankee Stadium would satisfy the MLS’s “close to mass transit” requirement.
Even if MLS takes an interest in redeveloping the Yankee Stadium garages, residents of the South Bronx still lost their parkland, and taxpayers may not be off the hook. To build a new stadium in the city, deMause reports, MLS is seeking an estimated $100 million in subsidies.