The Council of the City of New York
Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22

September 2, 2020
Contact: Terence Cullen

Seek to Open Revenue Streams from Billion-Dollar Franchises

Astoria, NY — Several Council Members want New York City’s highly touted franchises to do their part to help get through an unprecedented economic situation. Their call for the Big Apple’s world-famous arenas to finally pay property taxes once fans are allowed to attend games in person. 

In a letter to Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, the nine members highlighted the inequitable system in which franchises valued at up to $3 billion have put little into City coffers despite relying on services like reliable mass transportation. 

Council Members Costa Constantinides, Ben Kallos, Helen Rosenthal, Inez Barron, Jimmy Van Bramer, Antonio Reynoso, Brad Lander, Alan Maisel, and Ydanis Rodriguez noted this has cost billions upon billions that could have gone to education, sanitation, and other vital services. Instead of holding them accountable, these teams have benefitted from tax breaks issued in fear they’ll leave the five boroughs. 

“When we can barely scrounge together a mere $9 million to fully save the New York City Community Schools program or afford the $106 million slashed from the Sanitation Department, we can’t fall for this bluff anymore,” they wrote in the letter. “This is an opportunity to prove these teams truly care about the schools they send players to visit or are invested in the mass transit they recommend people take to the game.” 

The lawmakers recommended the State Legislature finally repeal the 1982 tax break on Madison Square Garden, which the IBO estimates saved the 34th Street arena from paying $41 million in taxes for the 2019 Fiscal Year. They also called on the City to renegotiate the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement with Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, and the Barclays Center. Right now these entities merely pay PILOTs for the construction debt they owe — an arrangement highly scrutinized by the IRS and the public. 

New York City faces its steepest financial situation since the Fiscal Crisis nearly bankrupt Gotham in the 1970s. With the Trump administration effectively leaving New York dead, the City stands to lose 22,000 public employees. Until a new federal administration prioritizes supporting the economic engine that is New York City, we must find new revenue sources to keep it afloat.