A New York lawmaker has called for a hearing Wednesday to examine questions over additional financing for the new Yankee Stadium.
Yankee Stadium LLC has applied for $370 million of taxable and tax-exempt bonds to enhance and complete a $1.3 billion stadium for Major League Baseball's New York Yankees that is scheduled to open this year, as well as to refund $60 million of outstanding debt.
The New York City Industrial Development Agency, which issued $930 million of bonds in 2006 to build the stadium, has scheduled a hearing on the deal Thursday and a vote to follow the next day. The IDA, which has come under heavy criticism over the deal, typically votes on projects the week following a hearing or even later.
"The city's attempt to ram through this complicated project without disclosure of its implications is not acceptable as the Legislature considers what changes in state law it ought to be making," Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, D-Westchester said in a press release.
Brodsky invited officials from the city and the Yankees to testify at his hearing but officials from the IDA and department of finance said Friday they would not come due to the short notice and other obligations
Last week the IDA released a cost-benefits analysis and application for the bonds that described what the bonds would be used for. The application and analysis said that $94.9 million of bond proceeds would be used for scope modifications, but it was not clear what the true cost of those modifications would be because the documents separated $75 million of labor costs from those calculations.
Among the scope modifications are a scoreboard, an audio/visual system, and enhancements to luxury suites. The bond proceeds would also be used for $59.8 million of other modifications the city is requesting.
Succumbing to public pressure, the city announced last week it would rent its luxury boxes at Yankee stadium and the new New York Mets stadium as long as Mayor Michael Bloomberg is in office, rather than use them for city officials or employees. E-mails about the negotiations that were released as a result of Brodsky's investigation revealed that city officials lobbied hard to obtain the boxes despite public statements to the contrary.
Brodsky has accused the IDA of refusing to turn over documents about the stadium deals. At a hearing in July, IDA chairman Seth Pinsky testified that he had withheld information about the use of the additional bonds in documents provided to Brodsky because it was considered competitive information, even though the general outline of that information was already publicly available in ratings reports published by Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's in December 2007.
Questions have been raised about whether the city inflated the assessed value of the land the new Yankee stadium is being built on to make the payments in lieu of taxes that back the bonds match required debt service. According to the official statement for the bonds, those PILOTs are estimated at $56.7 million annually.
The nonprofit entity building parking garages and parking space that serve the stadium to be financed and renovated using $237.7 million of bonds backed by parking revenue, will pay the city $49.3 million in PILOTs and rent over 40 years at net present value.