Monday, April 10, 2006

Subway Series: Queens Pols Ask Mets for Parity with the Yankees

As we have been reporting the Queens council delegation, led by Hiram Monseratte, has held up the Finance Committee hearing on the financing of the new Mets stadium. The NY Daily News, hot on our heels, revealed the details of the snag in yesterday's paper.

As the News reports other members of the delegation are starting to aggressively push the Mets to replicate the deal that the Bronx negotiated with the Yankees. As Councilman John Liu said, "...a stadium imposes burdens, substantial burdens, on part of the nearby community...We'd like to see an integration between the Mets and the Queens community, so the Mets aren't an island unto themselves."

The Mets are finally aware that they need to do a beter job of lobbying the elected officials that hold their financial fate in their hands. Met CEO Jeff Wilpon, recognizing this reality, told the Queens councilmembers, "Look, the communication has not been good. I take full responsibility for that and I'm sorry, and I'm here to say I want to improve it."

The NY Times also weighed in on the two stadiums yesterday calling on the Yankees to fund the proposed Metro North station. The paper argues that the deal struck with the team and the additional support that it calls for would be "a good start toward restitution for the many years in which the team, the richest sports franchise in the land, largely ignore residents of the disadvantaged South Bronx."

The same could be said about the Mets and their neighbors in Queens. As the Times points out, "The Mets will get at least $165 million in public assistance for infrastructure and other costs...On top of that both teams want help through tax exempt bonds and tax-alternative payments that could save each club tens of millions."

Given this level of suppert it would be in the enlightened self-interest of the Mets to move quickly to consummate a CBA with Queens. The emphasis should be on helping the kids of the borough and should avoid the more questionable slush fund that severly taints the Bronx deal.