On December 10th community residents, concerned over yet another sweetheart deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars being dumped in the Bronx without any community input, met at the offices of Bronx Legal Services.
Killian Jordan, a local resident in the affected area along with the help of a group of other concerned residents put together the following document so that we may keep the community informed.
In December of 2013, it was announced that a new soccer stadium might be built in the South Bronx.
Primary owner (80%): Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan has a personal fortune of $4.9 billion, and his family has amassed an oil fortune of $150 billion. He is the third-richest person in the world.
Minority partner (20%): the New York Yankees, ranked as the third most valuable sports team in the world (behind Manchester United and the Dallas Cowboys), with a value of $1.7 billion.
These partners have paid Major League Soccer $100 million for the new franchise, New York City Football Club (NYCFC).
This stadium was originally proposed for Flushing-Meadows Corona Park in Queens, but community opposition was strong, based on (a) the loss of public parkland, and (b) studies showing that new stadiums do not bring any long-term economic benefits to the communities in which they are built.
Major League Soccer’s Commissioner, Don Garber, said at a public meeting in Queens that the stadium would be privately financed and would create at least 3,000 permanent and temporary jobs. Neither of these is true for the Bronx proposal.
This past summer, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz invited NYCFC to look at a site in the Bronx on River Avenue, where a parking garage (built on NYC parkland) had been standing nearly empty. Using this site for a stadium would also entail relocating a 400-job manufacturing plant (GAL), closing part of 153rd Street, and altering an access point for the Major Deegan Expressway.
In December 2013 the Bloomberg administration signed a nonbinding agreement for a $350 million, 28,000-seat, soccer-only project at the newly proposed site. No community input had been sought prior to the signing of this agreement.
The estimated stadium cost is $350 million – before the usual cost overruns. Under the current understanding, it would largely be financed by City taxpayers, and NYCFC would be responsible for paying off the debt the City takes on. Mayor Bloomberg would have the city issue $250 to $300 million in tax-exempt bonds, costing New York State and the federal government millions in taxes over 38 years. The City would also grant immediate sales tax and mortgage recording tax exemptions worth about $21.5 million.
It is not yet known whether this estimate includes demolition of the existing garage and GAL’s facility, demapping portions of 153rd St., altering the Deegan access, addressing the property’s drainage issues, possible changes in the MetroNorth overpass, and other related costs – or who would pay those.
The standard MLS season consists of 34 games, apart from playoffs. Half of these are played at home.
Stadium review and construction is estimated to last until 2018. The soccer team will begin its schedule playing in Yankee Stadium in 2015.
No studies have found financial benefits for communities in which new stadiums are placed. Many studies have found the reverse.
The River Avenue corridor has among the highest asthma rates and obesity rates in the nation.
Possible subjects for discussion:
If the deal goes through, the community will express its wishes and priorities for ways that the new stadium can bring a positive, wholesome unity to the area.
Some items that have been mentioned:
• A portion of local ownership, so that Bronx residents can purchase small pieces of the NYCFC corporation and become shareholders as well as stakeholders
• All jobs pay living wage
• A bricks-and-mortar facility for young people in the community, connected to the main facility. This might be a Boys/Girls Club, P.A.L., YMCA, or similar
• Year-round access to the soccer stadium, with field time/coaching/equipment for local youths generally, local schools (all levels) and such local organizations as South Bronx United particularly
• Extensive traffic mitigation efforts, including keeping open local streets on all game days, incentivizing use of public transit, reinstating ferries for travel to and from games, etc.
• Committed policy of hiring CB 1 & 4 residents for all construction and arena jobs.
• Adding locally owned food concessions to the usual mix, as well as local procurement for goods and services
• Fully green construction and sustainable ongoing operation, with heavy use of alternative energy
• A small-business incubator/marketplace for immigrant-owned businesses in the building or on an adjoining plazas
• And any others you would like to add.
Please note: a second, community-led meeting has been scheduled.
Let’s share ideas about making our voices heard.
Tuesday, January 7
6 p.m., at Bronx Legal Services
The offices of Bronx Legal Services are at 349 East 149th Street, 10th Floor. The building is at the corner of Courtlandt Avenue and 149th Street and has a Citibank on the ground level. By subway, take the 2 or 5 lines to the 149th Street and 3rd Avenue stop and walk one block west.