All Hallow's principle - and coach for 39 years - Sean Sullivan at Monday's home opener on Heritage Field. Not a single penny of additional dedicated funding has been allocated for the maintenance of the replacement park facilities. A total of one Assistant Gardener is assigned for the entire park district which consists of dozens park properties. The city has however assigned three City Seasonal Aid park security personnel to the facility. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft)
The lack of dedicated maintenance funds needed to care for the new parks did not escape Mr. Sullivan.
Babe Ruth Field- Macomb's Dam Park - 2006. Children of Mexican descent play in garbage while their parents picnic nearby a few weeks before the parks were seized by the Yankees and destroyed to build the new stadium. The fields were located across the street from the original Yankee Stadium and were once one of the city's premiere fields before they abandoned taking care of them decades earlier. Even though the Yankees have grossed over $ 1 billion dollars in ticket and luxury suite sales alone since the new stadium opened on the parkland, not a single penny of dedicated funding has been allocated for the maintenance of the replacement park facilities.
According to the Bronx borough president's office the new parks built as part of the Yankee Stadium project did not need dedicated maintenance dollars set aside by the team as part of the Community Benefits Program (CBP) because parks upkeep is "already getting done" by the city. Now thanks to Bronx elected officials, the funding long promised for maintenance of the replacement parks has been diverted, and all money in the CBP can be spent in any part of the Bronx. Many local residents have labeled the CPB a "slush fund."
“If I had a chance to sit down with the hierarchy of the Yankees, I would tell them why did you take away the park that is going to hurt my kids to build a stadium to move it a thousand feet to the other side of 161st Street to charge the price of those tickets that my kids and the people who live in this community won’t have a hope of paying for. Shame on you, ” Mr. Sullivan told ESPN's E:60.
Field Of Schemes
New Bronx ballfields open, six years after old ones razed by Yankees
For those of you who've been wondering when the new public ballfields on the site of the original Yankee Stadium would finally be opening, well, here they are, only 16 months late, and nearly six years after the neighborhood's old ballfields were bulldozed to make way for the Yankees' new $2 billion stadium and parking garages, wrote Neil deMause in Field Of Schemes.
As the New York Daily News reports, "The new fields are open to local kids, but only when not under maintenance or being used by teams that buy permits."
I haven't been by there yet, but with the promise of such features as "a pair of ticket-shaped granite benches recalling the week in June 1990 when Nelson Mandela declared himself a Yankee and Billy Joel rocked the stadium," you can bet I'll be paying a visit. Full report when available.
UPDATE: I only saw the online version of the Times article linked above, so missed that the celebration of the new ballfields ran above the fold on page one, which is more than any Times coverage of the actual debates over whether the build the Yankees' new stadium ever received. Jordan Moss of Bronx Matters further notes that "in a story regarding a land use issue this big for the Bronx an interview or two with one of the prominent local activists or former community board members who opposed the stadium deal (they were ditched from CB4 by then-BP Adolfo Carrion, Jr.) would have been warranted..."
I wasn't the only person to notice something odd about the prominent and uniformly positive New York Times coverage today of the ballfields finally built to replace those lost for Yankee Stadium, A Public Park to Rival the Yankees’ Playground, complete with a front-page photo in both local and national editions.
Neil deMause wrote on Field of Schemes, New Bronx ballfields open, six years after old ones razed by Yankees:
For those of you who've been wondering when the new public ballfields on the site of the original Yankee Stadium would finally be opening, well, here they are, only 16 months late, and nearly six years after the neighborhood's old ballfields were bulldozed to make way for the Yankees' new $2 billion stadium and parking garages. As the New York Daily News reports, "The new fields are open to local kids, but only when not under maintenance or being used by teams that buy permits."Curious choices
de Mause pointed out that the Times never covered "the actual debates over whether [to] build the Yankees' new stadium" that prominently. Remember the Yankees' dubious claim that they would move to New Jersey--away from their historic home and the city's media market--without sufficient subsidies and government help?
deMause linked to Jordan Moss of Bronx Matters, who wrote astutely:
The New York Times is in loooove with Heritage Field, the high-quality three-diamond spread in the footprint of the old Yankee Stadium, so much so that it merited above-the-fold placement on the front page. It is a lovely sight, but it is laden with the recent history of the city prioritizing the Yankee corporation over the kids in Highbridge and other nabes surrounding the stadium.I'd agree. The Yankee Stadium controversy has gone down the memory hole. Is the Atlantic Yards controversy next?
...I’ll admit, I have a pretty firm point of view on the democracy-ignoring deals regarding the new stadium, its impact on taxpayers and the community around it... But I think I’m looking at it with fairness and not bias when I say that in a story regarding a land use issue this big for the Bronx an interview or two with one of the prominent local activists or former community board members who opposed the stadium deal (they were ditched from CB4 by then-BP Adolfo Carrion, Jr.) would have been warranted.
His letter is pretty disturbing--and I haven't checked with the Times-- but I did ask him if he was comfortable with me publishing it, and he said yes. His main point: the Times completely ignored dissenting voices, and that's part of a pattern. (Here's more on Croft, from Crain's; be sure to check the comments.)
On Monday I took Winnie Hu, a reporter known for her non-critical coverage of the administration, on a tour of the area. She experienced the 20- minute walk along highways and the filthy dangerous parkland along the Harlem River to get to the replacement tennis courts from the old ones that had previously been located in the community. She learned these courts - located in the South Bronx- charge up to $80 an hour. She repeatedly said how expensive that was. Ms. Hu was even told by an employee of the tennis concession that the cafe which they are building on city parkland will be for "members only. "
On our hour plus walk she was informed about the permanent loss of parkland in the community including two ballfields in the shadow of Yankee Stadium no less; she saw the parking garage that replaced a 2.9-acre ballfield which is not going to be replaced; She saw the artificial turf field built on top of a parking garage in the asthma capital of America that regularly reaches temperatures of 145 degrees and greater; she was made aware of the $300 million dollars associated with the replacement parks, not $195 million as she reported.
A week before our tour she was made aware of the our original Broken Promises report, which she said she looked at. She was given access to a few draft pages of our soon-to-be completed, updated Broken Promises report, which goes into great detail of the numerous issues associated with this project including the three-year delay in replacing some park facilities and the fact that there is not a single penny of dedicated funding allocated to maintain these parks. Unfortunately the list goes on and on.
"As I mentioned they will be on high spin mode as this has been a major embarrassment for the administration on the highest levels," I wrote to the reporter in an email a few days before our tour. "For a while Parks including Adrian weren't even allowed to respond to media inquires re: the Yankee/replacement park issues because of the all bs they got caught on. (All requests had to go through City Hall.)"
After our tour she met with seven officials from the city and people associated with the building of Heritage field who were happy to try and make the controversy disappear. The Times complied.
“Now nobody’s complaining,” the Times used as the kicker, the place in an article reserved for the strongest quote meant to leave the reader with the most impact.
That is simply not true. The Times had plenty of information and access to people needed to present "the other side," but they choose not to. They deliberately chose not to quote critics.
Besides speaking with me, Winnie Hu spoke with Joyce Hogi, a long-time area resident and one of the few people who has followed the issue closely. She is also a person who has not been intimidated in expressing her opinion.
"When I talked to her she was so effusive about how beautiful the parks were," Ms. Hogi said this morning. "It didn't matter what I said her article was already written.
"She was just so over the moon, so effusive. I don't think she understood. I went on and on and she didn't care."
Ms. Hogi isn't the only critic they have attempted to silence. I personally have been removed multiple times by editors after reporters have included me in their articles - including from one in which NYC Park Advocates spent three weeks getting a copy of the Community Benefits Program document relating to the project.
The Times has even warned reporters, calling me "controversial." Apparently to the Times controversy means doing actual research and honest reporting.
The NY Times deliberately and irresponsibly mislead its readers in this latest article by ignoring the controversy which is not surprising. With the exception of one article written before the approval - as opposed to the dozens of mentions lavished on the West Side NY Jets stadium fight - the Times refused to cover this issue. They even said there was little opposition. They "forgot" to mention that the community was caught unaware of the issue. The difference between the two stadium fights was that one impacted upwardly mobile West Side residents in a well-financed $ 18 million dollar campaign, vs. South Bronx residents who raised $12,000 for the lawyers.
The article however did not fail to use this laughable quote: “We felt an obligation to deliver superb parks to this community in particular because of the disruption they had to endure,” said Adrian Benepe, the city’s Parks Commissioner.
It is no secret Commissioner Adrain Benepe and his press people complain bitterly to anyone who will listen if the coverage is not positive. And it is also no secret Benepe is obsessed with the NY Times. One particularly famous rant came out of coverage from then-Times parks reporter Timothy Williams.
The public should be made aware that Mr. Benepe and former Parks press person Warner Johnston [ed--later to work for Empire State Development Corporation] and other employees spent dozens of taxpayer dollar hours researching and writing a 36-page document they sent to the paper complaining about Mr. Williams's coverage (and, yes, me as well).
Of the nine stories highlighted - with the exception of a single editing error in which a decimal point was out of place, not a single error in reporting was found. Not a single one. The laughable document was meant to silence the paper's hard-hitting coverage of an important city agency, which it did.
Since Mr. Williams's departure from that beat, the Times coverage of park issues has for the most part gone back to administration-friendly park pieces.
The Yankee Stadium controversy has not gone down the memory hole, as the Times would have its readers believe. No, the Times has instead chosen to ignore this issue as they have done since Day One. Unfortunately for Times readers the editors never felt this was a story so is was ignored. During the Stadium and parkland approval process a Times editor famously said of the community not being aware of the impending project and initially not mobilizing opposition more quickly and strongly, "they should have known."
For Bronx residents - and for the taxpayers at large - it's not enough they will have to forever endure the impacts of this irresponsible project, apparently they will now have to continue to suffer the indignity of irresponsible coverage in the "Newspaper of Record."
According to the New York Times, everything is swell in Yankee replacement park land. I'm happy the Times reporter thought the fields looked nice, and her reporting discovered people playing on them on the first day they were open felt the same. With the enormous taxpayer funds used to build them and the delay is this really a story, much less a front-page story? Obviously not.
They chose not to report on a story that impacts some of the poorest people in the country. This is shameful, irresponsible, but unfortunately not surprising.