Parking rates at Yankee Stadium skyrocket
Before the Yankees recorded their first official statistic of 2011 Thursday, many of their fans were unpleasantly surprised by this number on opening day: 35.
That is the cost, in dollars, to self-park -- it's $48 for valet service -- in the garages and surface lots outside Yankee Stadium, up from $23 in 2010 and $12 as recently as 2005.
"I guess it's expected -- when you have a $200 million payroll, someone has to pay the bills," said Deek Medzadourian, of Washington Township, N.J., before the home opener against the Tigers.
The hefty increase is not the Yankees' doing, though. The team does not control the lots.
"I'm still not happy about it," Medzadourian said. "I just texted my friend, who is driving here. I told him to be ready to pay."
The spiraling cost is a byproduct of the financial woes that have beset the corporation the city chose to build and operate the spaces surrounding the stadium.
Primarily because of major underuse of the 8,500 or so available spots, the Bronx Parking Development Co. (BPDC) has flirted with defaulting on its bonds and is far behind in rent and taxes to the city, said people familiar with the situation.
A city official, who asked not to be identified, estimated that the unpaid rent totals $10.5 million, and unpaid payments in lieu of taxes are $6.4 million.
The latest price increase was a last-ditch effort to increase revenue, at the risk of driving even more fans from official parking to alternate lots or public transportation.
"Everything is going up in this world, so I am not surprised parking is up, too," said Joseph Stamm of Flatbush before the game. "I would expect it."
The Yankees sought the large parking capacity around the stadium as part of its deal for new Yankee Stadium, but fans have flocked instead to public transportation -- including a new Metro North stop nearby -- and cheaper independent parking options. They include the Gateway Center at Bronx Terminal Market several blocks away.
The Yankees naturally are displeased about the negative public-relations impact of the $35 charge and have offered to work with BPDC to market the spaces, so far to no avail.
"If they asked us for help, we would gladly assist," said Alice McGillion, a team spokeswoman. BPDC would have faced default on its $237 million in tax-exempt bonds Friday if bondholders had not struck a deal last week to keep the company going at least through this season, after it dipped into its reserve fund.
"The agreement will give BPDC and the bondholders time to evaluate potential remedies to the current shortfall," said Kyle Sklerov, a spokesman for the New York City Economic Development Corp. "Over the next year we will make ourselves available to assist in discussions with all parties involved to help evaluate potential alternatives. We remain open to exploring all options that the parties and others propose."
Sklerov stressed that the city is not at financial risk. "The bonds are not a general obligation of the city or the IDA [Industrial Development Agency] in any way, shape or form," he said.
A BPDC spokesman did not return calls seeking comment.
The Mets control the lots outside Citi Field under the terms of their lease with the city, said Dave Howard, executive vice president of business operations.
The city does have the right to approve prices. The cost for 2011 is $19, up from $18.
With John Riley
and Robert Cassidy