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Gargano flashback: "no taxpayer money will go to build a sports arena"

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn points to a 8/23/04 interview with Charles Gargano, then chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, who seemed definitive that there would be no help for Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards arena:
The governor and I have made it clear for nine-plus years that no taxpayer money will go to build a sports arena. We will consider helping with infrastructure improvements, like a platform over the rail yards on the West Side or new subway stations, which helps the public at large.

Direct subsidies to arena

DDDB points to the wide universe of support for the arena, such as support for tax-exempt bonds, and cites much evidence that the arena is a priority, despite Gargano's claim that "we don't care about the arena."

Even looking narrowly at only direct subsidies, Gargano should have known that the city and state committed in the project Memorandum of Understanding to more than infrastructure. According to a 3/4/05 ESDC press release:
Under the MOU, the State and the City will each contribute $100 million in capital contributions to fund site preparation and public infrastructure improvements on and around the arena site, including streets, sidewalks, utility relocations, environmental remediation, open space and public parking.

Actually, the MOU allowed some wiggle room, stating:
The City’s capital contribution shall be used for the same purposes as the ESDC’s capital contribution [site preparation and public infrastructure improvements], except that the City's capital contribution may also be used to fund a portion of the costs of acquisition of the Arena Site (other than the MTA Properties).

(Emphasis added)

That suggests that city taxpayer money would be used for both infrastructure and property acquisition. The word “except” did allow the city to use its capital contribution for property acquisition, but the phrase "may also" suggested that the city's $100 million would not be used exclusively to buy property.

Instead, that $100 million in fact was used to buy property rather than pay for infrastructure, and the city has since added another $105 million.


  1. On a present value basis, the total tax payer subsidies going into just the arena on day one should come to at least $1.3 billion.

    More on this later. (I have also made this information available before.)

    Michael D. D. White
    Noticing New York


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