A new Yankee Stadium is slowly, and sadly, rising out of the remains of the Macombs Dam Park. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)
On a visit to Yankee Stadium this year, it’s impossible to miss the construction of the new stadium across the street from the old one. Crew members are on site during day games, and the new stadium, set for an April 2009 debut, is slowly taking shape. The same cannot be said for the plans for a state-of-the-art Metro-North hub in the South Bronx that is supposed to serve this new stadium.
A month ago, I noted that this transportation hub was, like most MTA projects, already well over budget before construction even began. Now the news is worse. According to documents released earlier this week by the MTA, the first contract for this new station should have been awarded already, but as Metro New York’s transit beat writer Patrick Arden noted on Tuesday, no contract is in sight and plans for the station are in jeopardy.
Progress has been delayed by the need to develop “an overall project budget,” wrote engineering consultant Carter Burgess. The $45 million cost is rumored to have nearly doubled over the last year. “In addition, an agreement with the City of New York regarding the project’s maintenance and shared construction cost is also being finalized.”
“We’re still waiting for the city to acquire the land,” explained MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin. “There hasn’t been any final budget put out, or an expected date for work to begin. When the land is acquired, we’ll have more to say.”
Similar to the problems surrounding the 7 line extension, the City and the MTA are at odds over just who is supposed to be paying for all of this. What originally began as a gesture of good will to the City’s leading environmental and public transportation advocates who wanted a transportation hub instead of four parking lots with a capacity of a measly 5,000 cars has devolved into another political fight over money between two powerful bodies.
Has anyone thought to ask the Yankees, recently valued as a franchise at $1.2 billion, to pitch in? Well, according to Straphanger Campaign guru, the omnipresent Gene Russianoff, the Yankees are mysteriously missing from this story. “The MTA is tapped out — its core program is in jeopardy,” Russianoff said to Arden. “So what’s more important? Paying to make the Yankees happy, or asking them to participate? I think it jeopardizes the project.”
I hear ya, Gene, and I couldn’t agree more. In fact, why not ask A-Rod to pitch in? After all, he makes $40 million in a season and a half. I’m sure he could contribute something for the good of the project other than record-setting home runs. Share, Alex, share!