Yanks, Mets want $450 million more

NEW YORK -- The Yankees and Mets are asking the city for $450 million more in public bonds to finance their new ballparks, on top of nearly $1.5 billion they were already granted, according to the city's Economic Development Corp.

The teams requested the additional financing in applications filed with the city ahead of a public hearing on the funding next month. The applications have not yet been made public, but the city shared details in response to questions from The Associated Press.

In the Yankees' application, the team is asking for another $259 million in tax-exempt bonds and $111 million in taxable bonds, on top of $940 million in tax-exempt bonds and $25 million in taxable bonds already granted for its $1.3 billion stadium.

The Mets are requesting an additional $83 million, on top of $615 million already approved for their $800 million park.

The city's Industrial Development Agency must hold a hearing before granting any additional public support for the ballparks, which are expected to be completed next year. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city officials have long insisted that the city reaps economic and other benefits from having the private stadiums.

As part of a deal still being worked out for the additional financing, city officials say the Yankees have agreed to some givebacks. Those could include putting money into public parks and infrastructure near their new home in the Bronx.

The original financing plans were negotiated in 2006, but both teams indicated earlier this year that they intended to ask for more help as costs began to increase.

The additional cost to the city resulting from the use of tax-exempt bonds is expected to be $16 million for the Yankees deal, but nothing extra for the Mets deal because that financing was already figured into the plan approved in 2006 as a "contingency."

The Internal Revenue Service recently updated its rules to limit the way tax-exempt bonds can be used to pay for sports facilities, but after lobbying from the city, the IRS said those regulations will not affect "certain projects substantially in progress," including the two new baseball stadiums.

When it first came to light that the teams intended to ask for more help from the city, lawmakers at the state and federal level argued taxpayers were being cheated by the deals.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has accused the city of misrepresenting the value of the Yankee Stadium land to get special tax deals from the IRS. Kucinich has said he believes there is "waste and abuse of public dollars" in the deal.

State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky is also investigating the projects. He believes the financing agreements were hammered out without taxpayer input.