Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On Steinbrenner memories and Yankee Stadium subsidies

Amid the pious paeans to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, New York Times columnist Jim Dwyer reminded people that, um, sports is a business:
AT some point in the 1980s, Mr. Steinbrenner began floating the notion that the Bronx was too wicked a place for a sports franchise to survive. Unless, possibly, someone built the team a new stadium. He made these pronouncements as the team was entering an era of prosperity unmatched in its spangled history.

During the 1950s, in the golden light of Mickey Mantle, the team never drew two million fans. Even in 1961, when Roger Maris hit 61 home runs and the Yankees won the World Series, attendance was just 1.7 million.

It was not until 1976, when the Bronx was on the verge of burning, that the team drew two million spectators. The more homicides in the Bronx, the higher the attendance at Yankee Stadium. Of course, good left-handed relief pitching also helped. Still, Mr. Steinbrenner eventually won the day: one of the wealthiest sports teams on earth would get around $1 billion in public subsidies for a new stadium.

As his health declined, Mr. Steinbrenner existed behind a scrim of bland quotes in news releases. “They should have let him pass from being part of the notoriety into the obscurity of old age,” Mr. Koch said.

He remembered the elation of the city when the Yankees won the World Series in 1978, a troubled time. “We put the trophy in the rotunda at City Hall,” Mr. Koch said. “I knew, as the Romans knew, that the people require circuses and theatrics.”

George Steinbrenner knew it better than anyone.

From Field of Schemes

On Field of Schemes, sports facility watchdog Neil deMause observed:
Most of the coverage so far has talked about the seven championships the Yankees won during his tenure and his "bluster"; less attention has been given to his role in the debacle that is New Yankee Stadium.

...Steinbrenner is survived by his children Hank, Hal, Jessica, and Jennifer, $1.2 billion in public subsidies for his new stadium, and a big hole in the ground where promised parks were supposed to be by now.
(Also see Village Voice essays by deMause and Tom Robbins.)

The statesmanlike Brodsky


Dwyer had commented that "[m]aybe the rule against speaking ill of the dead does not apply to rich lunatic uncles."

Except Assemblyman (and Attorney General candidate) Richard Brodsky, who led the investigation of the Yankee Stadium shenanigans--in Assembly hearings, in Congress--issued this statesmanlike statement:
"George Steinbrenner’s public achievements were many, and his passing is a moment to acknowledge those achievements. His drive and energy created part of the permanent and indestructible skyline of the greatest city in the world. He was a husband, father, grandfather and I’m sure all New Yorkers pause to offer condolences to the Steinbrenner family, as do I. Whatever may divide New Yorkers in the push and pull of public life we all share a commitment to bettering our community, and his passing is a reminder of how united we all really are.”
Really?

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