Yankees reveal new stadium plans

Yankees reveal new stadium plans

NEW YORK -- A new Yankee Stadium leaped from past dreams to future reality Wednesday, when club and government officials parted the curtain on construction plans for an $800 million project to replace and honor the Major Leagues' third-oldest ballpark.

Plans for the new stadium, the centerpiece of a broad redevelopment project to revitalize the Bronx riverfront, were announced at a press conference in the Stadium Club of the current Yankee Stadium.

Numerous political dignitaries, including New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Gov. George Pataki and a host of city and Bronx elected officials, joined Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in an event highlighted by the unveiling of renderings of the 51,000-seat park, targeted for a 2009 opening.

Construction in Macombs Dam Park, adjacent to and north of the current field, is scheduled to begin late next spring.

"We decided we want to stay in the Bronx. We want to do the job here," said Steinbrenner. "We wanted to do something for the people who've always supported this team."

While Yankees officials enthusiastically hailed the coming of a state-of-the-art showcase for sports' most successful franchise, government officials hailed that it will be built without public subsidy.

The Yankees plan to pay for all costs related to the stadium, and its subsequent maintenance.

"We are staying at home in the Bronx," Yankees president Randy Levine said. "We are continuing our tradition in the Bronx.

"The Yankees, not the taxpayers, will pay for this project. The Yankees, not the taxpayers, will pay to maintain this ballpark."

New York City will contribute $205 million -- pushing total budget for the project past the $1 billion mark -- to develop 28 acres of recreational facilities around the stadium and to erect new public structures.

"We make investments. We don't do subsidies," Mayor Bloomberg said. "In every case, the city will get paid back -- with a profit."

"What a trememdous day," proclaimed Gov. Pataki. "Yes, it's a great day for the Yankees, but no doubt it will go down as a historic day for New York ... a day we can all be proud of."

Levine presented a series of artist renderings depicting the new park from different perspectives. One highlighted the familiar facade of original Yankee Stadium.

New Yankee Stadium will feature modern conveniences -- such as dozens of luxury suites and wider concourses -- while also paying homage to the Yankees' home since 1923.

Preliminary plans are for the preservation of key elements of the current Yankee Stadium, such as the playing field for the use of local amateur leagues.

Other elements of the stadium, most notably Monument Park, will simply be relocated into the new park.

Not only will the new house retain the feel of the current ballpark with identical field dimensions and bullpen placements, but many planned features will actually recapture some of the original features eradicated by the extensive renovation that was done on the old stadium from 1973-75.

"We lost many of the great characteristics of the original house," Levine said. "The new stadium will take us back to our origins. This isn't the end of the legacy, but a continuation."

Among those features will be the exterior, a structure separate from the rest of the ballpark that will resemble the exterior of the original stadium.

The stadium's design is by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK) Sport-Venue-Event, whose retro touch is already visible on the MLB landscape in places such as Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Minute Maid Park in Houston and PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

"We decided we want to stay in the Bronx. We want to do the job here. We wanted to do something for the people who've always supported this team."
-- George Steinbrenner

The Yankees will also be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the ballpark, the significance of which was stressed by Mayor Bloomberg. The city foots maintenance of the current stadium.

"And in the last five years, we've spent $30 million on upkeep," said Bloomberg, who estimated that the new stadium will "in the next 30 years, bring the city $350 million in revenue. That's not to mention 3,600 construction jobs, and 500 to 1,000 permanent jobs."

Bloomberg, saying the project will "drive the incredible renaissance in the South Bronx," said the city would contribute $135 million toward developing parks and recreational facilites, and another $70 million for the construction of four parking structures with a total of 5,000 spaces.

Groundbreaking will culminate years of plans by the Yankees organization to develop a new ballpark.

Those plans were accelerated a few weeks ago, when club and city government officials reached agreement on a memorandum of understanding covering numerous aspects of the new Yankee Stadium's construction and eventual operation.

"This is an exemplary private-public partnership," said Yankees general partner Steve Swindal, "which, without the support of our fans, could not be accomplished."

As conceived by Bronx borough president Adolfo Carrion Jr., the broader development includes a hotel, convention center and a magnet high school for sports-related careers in medicine and adminstration.

"This is a very special day," Carrion said. "We have all won today. Together, we will build a better city."

Only Boston's Fenway Park (built in 1912) and Chicago's Wrigley Field (1914) are older than Yankee Stadium.

"We pledge to all our fans that this ballpark will be affordable," Levine said.

Gifford Miller, the youthful speaker of the New York City Council, sounded an appropriate footnote to an announcement that doubtless stirred mixed feelings in many fans.

"This is a bittersweet occasion for me," Miller said. "I spent the best moments of my life in this stadium. I've suffered cut shins, from jumping up and down in joy, and broken hearts. But ... the stadium is falling apart.

"I want to make sure that for many years, I'll be able to bring my sons to a ballpark where they can experience moments like the ones I did."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.