Yesterday we brought you a screenshot of the half-empty stands inside of Yankee Stadium a good half hour after the first pitch of Game 5 of the Yankee-Orioles series. New York's transportation system is uniquely—how should we put it—clusterfuck-y around rush hour, and eventually the stadium did fill up, once New York's hardworking citizens had extricated themselves from their workplaces. The picture of the empty seats, though—arguably not one you'd see in many other cities, for such an important game—threw into relief an issue that's popped up in another form for the city and the company that runs the Yankees' parking: not everyone has a clean ride to Yankee stadium, driving is always a drag, and subways, though liable at times to getting you to the game a half hour late, are basically the way to go.
Somehow, the Yankees brass did not know that when the current Yankee Stadium was under construction in 2008. The Yankees have an easily accessible subway stop named for them in the South Bronx (161st Street—Yankee Stadium was the 36th most trafficked stop in the city out of the 420 for which the MTA collects data) and a new Metro North station created especially for the purpose which brings in fans from surrounding counties. As WNYC put it in their report on the Bronx Parking Development Company's looming bankruptcy, "most fans take the trains," and at $28-$48 for a parking spot, they're right to do so.
WNYC has reported previously that "the Yankees pushed hard in 2008 to add 2,000 parking spots—paving city parks to do it," and that the team even "made it a condition for staying in the Bronx"—though it's hard to imagine anyone would have taken seriously a threat to leave. The city caved despite local residents claiming—correctly, as we now know—that 9,000 parking spaces for a 50,000 seat stadium is way too much parking.
The default means city taxpayers contributed about $39 million in subsidies to a project that is teetering on the brink of collapse. The city also spent $195 million to replace the parkland it gave to the Yankees, some of it now the site of languishing parking structures.
And that was only four years ago! The Bronx Parking Development Company is obligated to pay bondholders back before the city. The parking company can't even pay the bondholders the $15 million they're owed, so the city is unlikely to see much of the outstanding $25 million in back rent the BPDC hasn't paid.
It may seem like small potatoes in a large city with money all over the place, but deals like this one, for superfluous amenities at exorbitant prices, are indicative of the shady and ill-considered development deals often passed off in New York by companies like the Yankees, which throw money around so conspicuously few are willing to question them. Now residents are paying for parking structures that are 43% full at games for a team with the second highest attendance in all of baseball, in no small part because, as a rep for an advocacy group put it, "officials and the Yankees refused to have anybody at the table on this decision." What would those people have said if they'd been at the table? Probably that fans take trains to Yankee games.
Now a financial advisor working with the team has suggested renting the space out to auto dealers, ZipCar, and "circuses." At least the Yankees know a bit about circuses.
Yankee Stadium Parking Company Defaults On Its Bonds [Transportation Nation]