“The Bloomberg administration says that keeping the Yankees in the Bronx and the Mets in Queens not only creates temporary construction and permanent stadium jobs,” writes the New York Times’ Charles Bagli, “but also is crucial to the city™s image.”  The last third might be valid, but Bagli goes on to cite expert testimony that paints a far darker picture of (partial) public financing for the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.

The two stadiums near completion, the cost to taxpayers is anything but small, a review of the projects shows. Though the teams are indeed paying approximately $2 billion to erect the two stadiums, the cost to the city for infrastructure ” parks, garages and transportation improvements ” have jumped to about $458 million, from $281 million in 2005. The state is contributing an additional $201 million.

Those totals do not include an estimated $480 million in city, state and federal tax breaks granted to both teams. In addition, neither team has to pay rent or property taxes, though they are playing on city-owned land.

œIn general, stadiums are not engines for economic development, said Ronnie Lowenstein, the director of the New York City Independent Budget Office. œInflating the economic benefits associated with stadiums that typically have only part-time or seasonal employment is missing the point. A lot of New Yorkers wanted a new Yankee or Mets stadium. At the end of the day, that was what was driving the city™s decision to do this.

In the past two years, the costs of the New York projects ” the stadiums and the related infrastructure ” have swelled substantially, with the current cost of the Mets™ project put at about $900 million and the Yankees project expected to be more than $1.7 billion, making it the most expensive ballpark in the country. The rising price tags mean public costs have grown as well.

Robert A. Baade, an economist at Lake Forest College in Illinois who specializes in sports, was more critical of the New York projects, saying that the public benefits are fairly meager in light of the large public investment.

œWe know these claims are hyperbole, Mr. Baade said. œWhy would you expect that this would result in an increase in economic activity in New York when you™ve simply changed the locus of play, moving it across the street?