Yankees ask court to quash subpoena

Updated: May 5, 2009, 5:04 PM ET
Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The New York Yankees urged a state judge Tuesday to quash the subpoena from two assembly committees investigating the use of public funds to help build the team's new stadium, saying the issue has already been fully aired publicly.

Attorneys for the baseball team said Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat, is exceeding his authority and harassing the Yankees with legal action. The new stadium in the Bronx was the subject of 21 local, state and federal approvals and 22 public hearings, they said.

"It's one of the most exhaustively reviewed and approved public projects in the state and in the country involving a sports team," attorney Jonathan Schiller said after Tuesday's court hearing.

Schiller estimated it would cost the Yankees between $600,000 and $1.2 million to comply with Brodsky's subpoena for private information from the past nine years.

Attorney George Carpinello argued in court the subpoena was also "grossly overbroad" and would require culling the electronic and paper documents of more than 100 people. Carpinello added that the relevant information is held by the New York City Industrial Development Agency and said the Yankees have already provided the committees chaired by Brodsky and Assemblyman James Brennan with thousands of pages of documents plus testimony.

Brodsky countered that the Yankees are using $4 billion of public-supported financing for the new stadium, which opened in April across the street from the old one, while raising prices beyond the reach of many taxpayers. He said the team should be forced to disclose information so lawmakers can clarify the facts and whether the governing laws should change.

"We have a right to know the truth," Brodsky said.

At State Supreme Court Justice John Egan Jr.'s suggestion, both sides talked behind closed doors for more than two hours before Egan set the next hearing for May 27 to consider the subpoena and motion to quash it.

In court documents, Brodsky said unresolved issues include whether the Yankees participated in manipulation of property tax assessments, how many new jobs were created at what wages, how many New Yorkers have been excluded by higher ticket prices and whether taxpayers were illegally deprived of tax revenues needed for other purposes.

"The Yankees have a history of bullying people they disagree with," Brodsky said afterward. Under the financial arrangement, their tax money pays their mortgage, he said.

Schiller said Brodsky was wrong, that there's no $4 billion subsidy. Carpinello said the assemblyman was bullying them.

"The cost of the bonds that were issued by the IDA are being paid by private investors, not by the public," Schiller said. "The land on which the stadium is built is city land and the stadium belongs to the city, so the payments that are made under these bonds are in lieu of taxes. And he mixes that up to make his point, which is false, that the public is financing the stadium."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press