September 18, 2007
The new billion dollar Yankee stadium is under construction, but the organization who brought an injunction against the stadium being built on park lands is still railing against the politicians who backed the deal emphasizing how public funds being used could be better spent on the people of the Bronx versus the pinstriped clad Yankees.
The organization Save Our Parks, which had unsuccessfully attempted to halt the construction of the new stadium as it coupled with the destruction of 377 mature Oak trees and children’s athletic fields at John Mullaly Park and Macomb’s Dam, held a protest at the Kingsbridge Heights Park in the Bronx on Saturday to send a message to Congressman Jose Serrano.
The main organizer of the event Ernesto Maldonado, 49, said, “The new buildings are an insult when you know how much this community needs.” Maldonado grew up four blocks from Yankees Stadium and said the baseball club does very little for its community and neighbors. The 16th Congressional District Serrano represents is the poorest in the country.
As the 15 protestors lined up for the NYC 12 camera on 170th Ave and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. with their heavily worded poster board signs they chanted “Invest in children, not billion dollar franchises!” Behind them the song “Celebrate Good Times” blared from a health care fair sponsored by a long-term drug treatment facility.
Represenatative Jose Serrano, the 17-year veteran of the House and member of the House Appropriations Committee, was not in attendance as he was giving the keynote speech at the healthcare forum Saturday morning at the Lincoln Hospital in the lower Bronx.
Residents of the neighborhood including Marilyn Nelson, an HIV peer counselor, voiced their disapproval of 225 million dollars of taxpayer money being used to pay for subsidy of the parking garages. Nelson cited the cuts in the funding for treatment of low-income HIV/AIDS patients in the Bronx. The combined cuts for the city of New York due to the shift of money from urban areas to less needy rural areas are estimated at $17 million per year or the equivalent of Andy Pettite’s salary. The Yankees combined payroll for 2007 is $195,229,045.
It is hard to imagine the Yankees playing anywhere else outside of the Bronx, but during the legal battle over the park lands the city invoked the argument, “Yankees have often stated that if plans for a new stadium are not soon approved, and construction started, it will seek to move the Yankees baseball team to another city, which would enable immediate construction of a new stadium to commence.”
By the time the Yankee stadium hosts the All Star game in July of 2008, the new stadium and the parking will be nearly complete, along with $150 million of new recreation areas. John Mullaly Park, named after the father of the Bronx Park System, will have been turned into parking just 5 years after the city spent three million dollars to rejuvenate the park.
When the stadium was originally built in 1922 the 10 acres of lumberyard was bought for $600,000 from William Waldorf Astoria. During the early 1970’s, the Yankees were threatening to move and Mayor John Lindsay bought the stadium for $24 million and the city paid $160 million for the renovations, now being paid for by the state. The City’s Park department will retain ownership of the land under the new stadium, but will not charge the Yankees rent. Under the arrangement negotiated by the city and the Yankees, the new stadium will be paid for by the franchise as well as $800,000 to neighborhood non-profits over the next 40 years, as reported on by Metro New York.
Bronx resident Marco Quinones said the money should be spent on the neighborhood.
“Focus more on community and not billion dollar franchises. Housing, education, crime rate and the HIV positive community. Focus on humanity.”
New stadiums also are being built in the New York Metropolitan area for the New York Mets, the New Jersey Nets and the New Jersey Devils.