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I’ve seen Bud Selig and other owners and front offices stoop to this level. I never expected to see the Yankees there, though. After all, the Yankees are the richest franchise in baseball and have many avenues to obtain large amounts of revenue.
Yet, at the Yankees hearing on the bonds issued to the team for construction of the stadium, they were pulling out the relocation threat. The fact that the team had it’s President, Randy Levine, even try to pass that off as a credible idea in front of Congress (who, when it comes to baseball, doesn’t know any better), is sad and proof that baseball’s owners only know the same old tactics.
The hearing was to discuss the difference in land valuations for the site of the new stadium: from what the state was told it was worth as opposed to what the IRS was told it was worth by the city. The final valuation of the land secured the Yankees tax exemptions, which lowered the cost of the stadium. However a valuation that was lower than what the IRS was told would not have secured the tax exemptions and the allowing of PILOTs (Payments in lieu of property taxes) for repaying the bonds.
Essentially, what this boils down to is that baseball’s richest team wanted to off-load more of the cost of their stadium to, guess who, the public. We’ve seen this before with other teams and their stadiums and all sorts of justifications for public funding of the stadium. And usually the need for the public funding is coming out of the mouth of the slimy Bud Selig, trying to line the pockets of his fellow owners, without realizing he’s disenfranchising fans further.
In this case, the Yankees themselves were bold enough to whine that they needed the money, or else, they said, the team would have had to move…to New Jersey. Let that sink in for a second. Try not to think of anything else. Now suppress the need to laugh. I know the feeling myself. That is probably the most ridiculous statement that a very profitable franchise could make.
Is there anyone who truly believes that the Yankees would move to New Jersey? Let’s even ignore the fact that New Jersey has not talked to the Yankees about relocating in many years. Sure, if they moved, they could still be the New York Yankees (see: Giants, New York; Jets, New York). But they wouldn’t be able to market themselves as the Bronx Bombers and would lose money from that. Plus people don’t mind going to a place like East Rutherford for 8 games a year, most of which are on the weekend (Giants, Jets). However, make that 81? A huge drop in attendance could be expected. The team would lose out in massive amounts of revenue from drops in attendance. Lesser series would be seen as more avoidable. Plus, there is nothing historically significant for the Yankees in New Jersey.
Furthermore, the Yankees are implying they themselves could not afford this stadium, the one that it was told to the public should pay for itself. Doesn’t that cause two alarms to go off in your head? How about:
MLB is doing so well financially that they won’t open their books for fear that if people saw how much money they were making, they wouldn’t be able to cry for publicly funded stadiums. MLBAM is doing so well that banks tried to get MLB to go public with it, but MLB chose not to, since, yet again, this would’ve revealed the impressive profits of baseball.
Bud Selig’s salary can be enough to be among the top 10 salaries in baseball next year for a reason (And wow, isn’t that another mindblowing thought? Sure is better than selling cars, isn’t it Bud?). Also, baseball’s threatened with relocation many times, and look at how many teams relocated under Selig. One (being the Expos/Nationals). We can see how well that went given their attendance in their BRAND NEW stadium this year (their games averaged 29,000 fans).
Another thought Jersey would have leverage if it was known the Yankees were leaving the Bronx. It’s not like there’s any other location the Yankees could even come close to having the media presence, closeness to NYC and being accepting of having the Yankees on their territory. So to say that Jersey could’ve given a rosier deal is quite ridiculous.
At the end of the day, what we saw is the type of ownership Bud Selig likes having around him. Bud Selig has created a great breed of slimeballs. The Yankees were not going anywhere, but they tried to convince Congress that a deal that was sweetened for them was necessary. We’ll see if Congress took the bait. If they don’t, I applaud them. But at the end of the day, given the much more pressing issues Congress deals with, I suspect their grasp of the business of baseball is much lesser than most bloggers’, which is precisely why the Yankees dug down low and tried out the old relocation threat.