A Massive Dollop of Corporate Welfare for the New York Yankees

Matt Welch, editor in chief of Reason, takes up an issue that I have written about on numerous occasions: the inexcusable gargantuan public subsidies for the New York Yankees’ new stadium:

This year the Yankees moved into a new stadium. According to baseball economist Neil deMause of the excellent Field of Schemes website, the facility cost a stunning $1.56 billion, and the total project (including replacing 22-acres of parkland that had been destroyed by the construction) totaled $2.31 billion [pdf]. Both figures are all-time records in the history of sports stadia. “Of that,” deMause estimates, “the public—city, state, and federal taxpayers—are now covering just shy of $1.2 billion, by far the largest stadium subsidy ever…..”

To sum up: The most successful, most opulent, and most hated baseball franchise in North America, widely known as “the Evil Empire,” receives an unprecedented amount of government giveaways in a time of recession and government budget-squeezes, with which it increases its already sizeable revenue advantage, partly by charging ticket prices that only the rich can afford. With all that dough safely pocketed, the team then shells out $423 million in free agent contracts for just three players, who help vault them back into the League Championship Series for the first time since 2004.

For my own earlier posts on the Yankee Stadium subsidies, see here, here, here, here, and here.

As a fan of the rival Boston Red Sox, I am definitely biased against the Evil Empire of the Bronx. However, as I pointed out in my very first post on this subject, I am just as vehemently opposed to similar subsidies for Boston teams. For example, I was against various proposals to use public funds to build the Red Sox a new stadium that were considered back in the 90s; fortunately, the Sox decided to keep Fenway Park and refurbish it with private funds. Otherwise, I would have had to choose between my principles and my fan loyalties. And I could not love the Red Sox half as much loved I not freedom more. In any event, the possible impurity of my motives doesn’t undermine the validity of my point. As numerous studies show, sports stadium subsidies virtually always create far more costs than benefits for the public. If the Yankees’ George Steinbrenner and his fellow millionaire owners want to build new stadiums, they should pay for it themselves. In the meantime, we Red Sox fans will have moral reasons to root against the Yankees, in addition to those derived from our loyalty to Red Sox Nation.