NEW YORK (AP) George Steinbrenner decided not to take Manhattan and gave the Bronx a thumbs-up.
The Yankees owner was flanked by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Gov. George Pataki as the team announced plans June 15 for an $800- million stadium next to the current one, a ballpark they intend to open in 2009.
Steinbrenner said the Yankees had first examined several ballpark alternatives. A move to Manhattan’s West Side or New Jersey was among the proposals.
“We’ve had a lot of different things in front of us, whether we go over to there, over here,” Steinbrenner said. “But we decided to stay in the Bronx and do the job for the Bronx.”
Much of the hour-long news conference was dominated by politicians congratulating each other for the plan, which the Yankees hope gains approval in the fall from the state Legislature and City Council. The new ballpark will be just north of the current stadium, which opened in 1923, and the Yankees hope to break ground next spring.
“They’re not the Westchester Bombers, they’re not the Manhattan Bombers, they’re certainly not the New Jersey Bombers,” Pataki said. “They’re the Bronx Bombers and they’re going to be in the Bronx for a long, long time to come.”
It will be just the third privately-financed stadium in the major leagues since Dodger Stadium opened in 1962, joining the San Francisco Giants’ new ballpark (2000) and the park the St. Louis Cardinals are to move into next year.
The Yankees intend to pay for the ballpark by having a local development corporation created by the city and state issue 40-year tax-free bonds. The bonds will cost approximately $50 million annually for the team to pay off, with the exact depending on interest rates at the time of the issue.
The team estimates its annual stadium expense will increase from $22 million to $68 million, money that will be deducted from its locally generated revenue when calculating revenue-sharing payments to major league baseball.
Assuming the revenue-sharing rules don’t change substantially after the current collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2006, the ballpark payments will cut the revenue-sharing money some teams otherwise would receive.
“They may be the only unhappy people as a result of this deal,” Yankees president Randy Levine said.
Yankee Stadium is the third-oldest ballpark in the major leagues, trailing only Boston’s Fenway Park (1912) and Chicago’s Wrigley Field (1914). The Red Sox intend to keep improving Fenway.
“We can’t spend all our time worrying about what might or might not be in the Yankees’ plans,” Red Sox President Larry Lucchino said. “I say, ’Good luck’ to them. We chose a different path, one that we think will enable us to compete with them, because money ain’t everything.”
The Yankees unveiled a model of the ballpark, which on the outside will be treated with limestone and resemble Yankee Stadium before its 1974-75 renovation. It will seat from 50,800 to 54,000, with approximately 30,000 seats in the lower deck, an increase of approximately 10,000. Monument Park will move to the new ballpark, and a stadium club will be added above it. The bullpens will be moved back to right field,
While Ruth got a short right-field porch in the original Yankee Stadium, Alex Rodriguez won’t be getting similar assistance. Field dimensions will remain the same.
“A-Rod doesn’t need any help,” Steinbrenner said.
Levine said the new ballpark also will be called “Yankee Stadium,” but that the team may sell naming rights and have the ballpark called “Yankee Stadium at ’X’ Plaza.” Steinbrenner said the team rejected having a retractable roof.
“There was a discussion, but the cost was very extraordinary,” he said.
Bloomberg, who announced a new ballpark for the Mets on June 12, said the city had spent $30 million on Yankee Stadium upkeep during the last five years and would realize $350 million in revenue and savings from this deal over the next 30.
In New York, lawsuits and construction delays often postpone openings. Even if the ballpark is ready in 2009, that’s a long time away for many.
“I could be three teams removed by then,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.