They got some ink from the Times the other day as their more ambitious new film Stadium Status debuted.
explanation for the project:
Our starting point for this movie was simply asking the question: why did the Yankees and the Mets get to build record-breakingly expensive stadiums in the SAME YEAR? Considering we were on the brink of a massive recession and now face massive budget shortfalls in New York state, it seemed problematic that so much public funding went into these buildings – with little assurance of any tangible public benefit.Sources
From there, we employed our usual investigation methods. Namely, go to a place and start filming. We actually got into Citifield and were able to film there. Yankee Stadium confiscated our tape – but we still managed to talk to people and capture the exterior of the massive new structure.
We looked at the communities being affected by these stadiums and tried to see who exactly was benefiting from these teams getting to build new revenue-maximizing ballparks – directly across from the old ones.
Their on-camera sources include the indispensable Neil deMause of the Field of Schemes blog--"Yankee Stadium is about half public money," he says. The problem isn't that the city's fronting the money in the first place, says deMause, it's that they're not getting it back
Another is a South Bronx activist named Killian Jordan, who observes that it's hard to generate political activism in a poor community. (Jordan, it turns out, is a Manhattan transplant, as explained on this pro-Bronx web site produced by a real estate agent.)
Onward to AY
After visiting the sites of Yankee Stadium and the Mets' Citifield, at about 9 minutes into the 18-minute film they arrive at the Atlantic Yards arena groundbreaking, held March 11.
"Net fans, I assume," cracks IC-er Dallas Penn, as he approaches a group of protesters chanting, "Brooklyn's not for sale."
Danield Goldstein of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, at that point residing in but no longer owning his apartment, gets a few quotes.
And Penn and partner Rafi Kam get some not-quite-accurate licks in. No, Goldstein's building isn't considered blighted, but it's part of an area deemed blighted, which, as they point out, is a highly malleable term.
"I've gotta admit, I'm kind of a fan of the Nets myself," Penn deadpans. "The Internets."
They find a man--of bodyguard width--in a suit to say he thinks the arena would be good for Brooklyn. "I think it's going to revitalize and bring economic development," says the interviewee. "You have to look at the big picture."
Is the interviewee connected to the project in some way? We're not told, but he's confident of "a big plan for when [the Nets] to Brooklyn." (Turns out he was a VIP at Forest City Ratner's 6/5/08 Brooklyn Day rally, as noted in the photo by Tracy Collins.)
Then we get deMause, who explains how developer Bruce Ratner has a history of building big projects using public land.
Then to Dean Street, where Penn inaccurately jokes to a young man visiting the Temple of the Restoration, "Y'know, they're going to knock that church down... when people are inside of it, during service."
Then to Pacific Street, where Penn and Kam point to the "loft apartments" where residents are going to have to find a new place to live. Actually, the apartments are in the Spalding Building that Forest City Ratner bought a long time ago.
More entertainingly, they use speeded-up footage to show them walking the perimeter of the footprint, with some statistics about the project interspersed.
The big picture
Five minutes later, the ICs close the piece with the big picture.
"It's hard being a sports fan these days," says deMause.
"Stadium status for team owners is really about who's got the newest, the best, the freshest stadium with the most amenities," says Kam.
Replies Penn, "And who got the most money from the taxpayer in order to build it."
There's no one from the city or state to solemnly explain why they think building stadiums is a good idea. For that, go to coverage by deMause and AYR of a January 2009 hearing held by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky