The operator of parking garages at Yankee Stadium fell into payment default on Monday – opening day for the New York Yankees – when it missed a $6.9 million bond interest payment.
Bronx Parking Development Co., three weeks after revealing that it hired bankruptcy counsel, cited “continued financial difficulties” in a filing on the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s EMMA website. Bronx Parking, meanwhile, is still negotiating a haircut with majority holders of the bonds.
Nuveen Asset Management holds $116 million of the bonds, according to documents.
The company’s operating budget, released last month, included an $18,750 monthly payment to bankruptcy council Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.
Hudson, N.Y., nonprofit Community Initiatives Development Corp. formed Bronx Parking in 2007. The company issued $238 million of tax-exempt bonds that year through the New York City Industrial Development Agency to finance a system of parking garages related to construction of the new Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009 just north of the old one.
New stadiums for the Yankees and the Mets, in Queens, were major priorities for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Bond proceeds, along with $70 million in state subsidies, were used to develop and construct three garages and renovate other nearby parking facilities.
While game attendance has been strong – the Yankees led the American League in attendance last season and Monday’s season opener against the Boston Red Sox draw an announced crowd of 49,514, the largest for a home opener in the five years of the new ballpark -- garage capacity has been as low as 43%, according to securities filings.
The filings have also revealed multiple reserve-fund withdrawals by Bronx Parking.
Many fans take the subway or Metro-North commuter railroad to attend games, or park for free at the nearby Gateway mall and walk to the stadium, rather than pay $35 to self-park.
“The bonds are in default and somebody’s going to be left holding the bag,” said Anthony Figliola, the vice president of Empire Government Strategies in Uniondale, N.Y. “The mayor’s office will certainly be in the loop on this one. That was their project.”
Late in 2011, the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. requested bids for a hotel conference center at the site of one of the garages, at East 153rd Street and River Avenue, but nothing has materialized.
“The Bronx, unfortunately, is the land that time forgot,” said Figliola. “But things are happening there. Look at Hunts Point and the fish market. If the city took its focus on economic development and cultivated it in strategic industries, then you’d see a revitalization.”