"That'll be an extra $55 for a spot this close to home plate, Joe." (AP file)Fans of the New York Yankees may soon have to pay as much as $55 to park at Yankee Stadium thanks to the poor planning by New York City, the Yankees and a private firm that is running low on cash.
Again, that's $55 to leave a car somewhere for the three or four hours it takes to watch a baseball game. And it's because the Bronx Parking Development Company LLC — a private firm that owns and operates parking lots and garages surrounding the new stadium — is unable to repay the hundreds of millions of dollars that it owes on bonds.
Not surprisingly, the mess may be passed onto the fans who live across the Hudson River in New Jersey and the others who either can't or won't take cheaper public transportation alternatives to watch a Yankees game in the Bronx.
While the Bronx Parking Development company is not affiliated with the Yankees or New York, its failure is directly linked to the deal brokered by the team and the city back in 2005. Mayor Michael Bloomberg agreed to issue $237 million in tax-exempt bonds that allowed a 9,000-space system of garages and parking lots to sprawl around the new stadium, replacing both public park land and abandoned lots abutting the Harlem River.
Juan Gonzalez reports in the New York Daily News why the parking prices might skyrocket soon:
Yankees fans have shunned the garages, where gameday self-parking rates soared last year to $35 — up from $23 previously and more than double the original $14 charge. Valet parking now goes for $48.
So many fans are staying away, in part due to the lure of cheaper local competition, that Bronx Parking Development now projects only 3,500 paying customers per game for the upcoming season.
That's 3,500 out of 9,000 parking spots per game, leaving over 500,000 empty spots over an 81-game regular-season schedule. With a majority of fans taking subways, buses and commuter trains, or parking their cars in unaffiliated and cheaper lots on their way to a ballpark that is almost always near capacity, there is no extra revenue to make up the shortfall unless the parking rate is increased exponentially every year. It's a paradoxical economic situation: Increasing prices because of a lack of demand.
Ben Kabak at River Ave Blues estimates that, while the $35-per-car rate from 2011 will stay the same for the upcoming season, it could increase to $42 in 2013 and a whopping $55 in 2014 if the increases follow a Morgan Stanley report designed to keep the companies from defaulting on their loans. A $55 fee would represent a price nearly four times as much as the original $14 fee for the stadium's first season in 2009.
The problem will not go away, either. If the parking firm goes under, another one will take its place and keep the prices high. The land surrounding the stadium is not considered a prime development spot and the city is not willing to buy it back and use it for the public good.
Perhaps the only sweet-smelling solution to paying back all of those loans would be to renovate one of the garages into a shopping mall and open a Sephora store.
The Yankees, after all, have plenty of new fragrances to move.
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