Not in the Yankees' pocket
AZ: I want you to know that I have never received a penny of compensation from the Yankees. If I had, I would have made it known before I commented.
Fine. But if he's a scholar, rather than a promoter, he should grapple with contradictory information from Good Jobs New York and Neil deMause.
West Side Stadium
AZ: I am also not sure about the comment that one of your listeners made regarding what I said about the West Side Stadium. If I said that I did not think it should get public financing, it was because I thought it was a bad plan to build it. I don't see how this in any way contradicts anything I said on your show.
Well, part of the reason he thought it was a bad plan was that he severely criticized PILOTs, or payments in lieu of taxes. He thinks PILOTs are fine if the land previously was tax-exempt--but that issue's a lot fuzzier than he thinks. Even the Internal Revenue Service's chief counsel thinks the use of PILOTs is a "loophole."
And the tax-exempt status of the land for the Atlantic Yards arena was supposed to drive a higher price for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard--except it didn't, since Forest City Ratner had the inside track.
Fair reading of Yankee Stadium?
AZ: What I tried to do is to give you a straight and fair reading of the Yankee Stadium deal. I am not in favor of tax exempt financing for stadiums, but I don't think it makes sense to preserve it for all states but New York, especially when the initial Yankee/City plan contemplated such tax exempt financing (and additional financing beyond the initial $940 million).
Zimbalist has a point, that national policy should be consistent. But the IRS would like to preserve tax-exempt financing without the PILOT loophole. And he should try to consider whether teams in New York--the Nets even more than the Yankees--have more opportunities than most for naming rights, luxury suites, and more to raise money and pay their own way.
Defending his AY report
AZ: Clearly, a group of people are angry about the economic impact report I wrote for FCRC. I stand by that report. It does not contradict anything in the scholarly literature and it does not contradict anything that I have written. I explain this clearly in my report. While it is true that I was paid for writing this report, it is also true that I voiced support for the project before I talked to anyone at FCRC. (Incidentally, the Mets are also using the same tax exempt/PILOT scheme to finance their new field and the team is also paying for the lion's share of development expenses.)
He stands by the report? That's an empty statement, given that he claimed that "Forest City Ratner was simply taking advantage" of existing tax exemptions rather than the special benefits noted by the Independent Budget Office's September 2005 report on Atlantic Yards.
OK, start here. Then here. Then here.
It does not contradict anything in the scholarly literature? "I would never have undertaken this exercise,” Washington State University sports economist Rod Fort told Neil deMause, suggesting it was unwise to forecast housing markets.
(Indeed, now that the project has been significantly delayed, and the developer has been given loose deadlines for Phase 1 and no deadline for Phase 2, the schedule of projected revenues should be significantly adjusted.)
I asked James Parrott of the Fiscal Policy Institute if there was any precedent for Zimbalist's methodology for adding up income taxes from new residents--a tactic that led to a magical 50% leap in projected new revenues after Zimbalist revised his report.
He responded, "I don't know of any serious cost-benefit analyses of mixed-used economic development projects that count the taxes of residents. That's why we said it was a methodological flaw."
Just because Zimbalist voiced support for Atlantic Yards before he was hired to write his report doesn't mean his report was thorough or accurate.
If it was, let's see him submit it for peer review.