Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stadium Status

Stadium Status from Internets Celebrities on Vimeo.

I'm a little too upset and depressed (gee, why would that be?) to do a long post on this story in Next American City now. This little video was made about NYC, but one can just fill in your city's name in most cases. At least most of NYC is still there, while so much of Pittsburgh's rare flat prime land, potential livable neighborhoods and tax money is gone.

"But despite all the obvious reasons why this sort of large-scale, disruptive development is not actually in the public interest, stadium developers continue to receive massive subsidies, even from the federal government. Neil deMause, author of the book Field of Schemes, is featured prominently in Stadium Status. He points out that technically speaking, due to the federal subsidies developers of new Yankee stadium received, Red Sox fans helped pay for the ballpark. The mechanism is somewhat roundabout; the city issues the teams tax-exempt city-issued bonds, a transaction that was made illegal in 1986, because it robs the Federal Treasury of tax dollars for private development. But, because the city has the teams pay back the loans in the form of PILOTs—Payments In Lieu Of property Taxes—they claim that they are collecting tax revenue, even if the federal government is not. According to Neil deMause, this mechanism amounted to about $60 million in (mostly) federal subsidy for the Yankees alone. Aside from the fact that this is questionably legal, it’s troubling that the federal government is unwittingly lining the pockets of developers who claim to work in the public interest, but don’t.

Back in October of 2008, right after Lehman Brothers tanked, and the realities of the banking crisis were becoming clearer, federal tax officials approved the use of tax-exempt bonds to Ratner’s development group, for the Atlantic Yards project. With that decision, millions of dollars of future tax revenue disappeared from our nation’s coffers, and Downtown Brooklyn will get 16 new skyscrapers and a few hundred jobs selling peanuts for 41 nights a year. What a trade."

No comments: