Yankees president Randy Levine thinks you’re an idiot


We’ve talked for years about how taxpayers subsidize baseball stadiums via tax exemptions for the owners, bonds or direct expenditure of tax dollars for the construction and operation of sports facilities. The fact such things exist is not exactly controversial, even if the reason for their existing is. No one actually claims, outside of a couple of examples, like San Francisco and some of the older parks, that ballparks are not at least in some ways subsidized by taxpayers.

But Yankees President Randy Levine. Does. Or at least he wants you to believe that and is willing to tell you that up is down and black is white in the hopes that you do.

That is apparent in Michael Powell’s interview with Levine in the New York Times. An interview in which Levine actually tries to argue that Yankee Stadium is like some mom and pop shop, built with the elbow grease of businessmen like himself as opposed to the dollars of taxpayers:

Mr. Levine opened our discussion with a big play.

“There are no subsidies,” he said.

He folded that hand soon enough. According to the city’s Independent Budget Office, the stadium received about $270 million in federal tax-exempt financing. There was an additional $58 million for the parking garages, which the Yankees don’t own but from which they benefit.

“The bonds don’t cost the city or the state anything,” Mr. Levine said. “It costs federal taxpayers all over the country.”

That might not comfort a taxpaying plumber in Tulsa.

The city and state gave the Yankees a $40 million sales tax exemption on their construction costs. Mr. Levine argues that the stadium now generates sales tax, which is true but is beside the point. Most women and men start businesses without government subsidies and pay sales tax.

Levine goes on to argue that other public assistance to the Yankees — the building of a train station, the granting them public parkland to build Yankee Stadium and the subsequent construction of another park to replace it — are all things that are good for the public. Gifts to them, even, that he sort of implies they should thank the Yankees for. In this Levine sounds like one of those crooked Enron executives who argued that liabilities on balance sheets were actually assets.

Powell is having none of this and explains how all of these things and many other aspects of the construction of Yankee Stadium were clearly functions of, in essence, public welfare. A spending of public money that many if not most people were no doubt happy with, but a spending of public money all the same. The issue isn’t whether it was a good idea to do all of this — people can totally think it was — it’s whether or not it was, in fact, a gift. All of which, Powell, points out, is rather rich when you hear Levine rail against revenue sharing as some sort of abhorrent form of socialism.

Which is pretty typical of the class of people who hang with Levine. Welfare? The use of tax dollars to assist others? Public works? Bah! That’s socialism! Unless of course they need it, then tax dollars freely given are just part of the genius of capitalism.

Brian Cashman signs 4-year contract to remain Yankees GM

Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO — Brian Cashman has signed a four-year contract to remain the New York Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager. The announcement was made during the first day of baseball’s Winter Meetings.

Cashman, New York’s GM since 1998, had been working on a handshake agreement since early November, when his five-year contract expired.

The Yankees were swept by four games in the AL Championship Series and haven’t reached the World Series since winning in 2009. It is the franchise’s longest title drought since an 18-year gap between 1978-96.

Cashman’s main goal during the offseason is trying to re-sign AL MVP Aaron Judge.

Judge hit an American League-record 62 homers this season with a .311 batting average and 131 RBIs. He turned down the Yankees’ offer on the eve of opening day of a seven-year contract that would have paid $213.5 million from 2023-29.

While Judge remains on the market, Cashman was able to re-sign Anthony Rizzo on Nov. 15 to a two-year contract worth $40 million after turning down a $16 million player option.

Cashman has been the Yankees general manager since 1998. He has been with the organization since 1986, when he was a 19-year old intern in the scouting department. In his 25 seasons as GM, the Yankees have reached the postseason 21 times, including four World Series championships and six American League titles.