In his ongoing investigation into the Yankees’ new baseball stadium, New York Assemblyman Richard Brodsky uncovered e-mail messages sent by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s top aides that show an aggressive bid for a free luxury suite at taxpayer expense, the New York Daily News reported.
E-mail requested under the New York Freedom of Information Law show the aides spent months demanding the luxury skybox and free food before finally reaching a compromise with Yankee leadership in which the city would give the team 250 free parking spaces. The $820,000 value of the spaces could hurt taxpayers if the Yankees’ garage owner cannot make his $3.2 million annual rent, according to the Daily News.
The Yankees asked the city to request tax-exempt funding from the Internal Revenue Service in an effort to save $247 million in borrowing costs, the Daily News reported. The city agreed, but in exchange wanted the skybox and 180 of the best seats to be bought at cost. When the Yankees scoffed at the suggestion, city lawyer Joseph Gunn reportedly threatened to withhold the city’s tax-exempt backing if the suite was denied.
A spokesman for the city’s Economic Development Corporation told the Daily News that the behind-the-scenes battle of the skybox was part of a "much larger, comprehensive negotiation."
"Our goal was to make sure that New York had the same advantages as other cities, including the option to use a box, be it for staff outings for public employees or for visiting dignitaries," corporation spokesman David Lombino said in a statement.
In the end, the city provided the 250 spaces and received a free luxury suite with a view down the third base line, the Daily News reported.