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Baseball's financial excess needs a timeout

Where is the outrage, the pressure to reduce government spending?

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If you thought Washington was beginning to look like the poster child for financial excess, turn your gaze to Major League Baseball for a moment.

During the off-season, the New York Yankees spent just over $400 million on three new players and then had the nerve to ask the city and state of New York for $450 million in tax-exempt bonds to complete their new $2.3 billion stadium.

Ten miles to the east, the New York Mets spent $77 million this past off-season on new deals. And they plan on opening the 2009 season with a new $850 million stadium; it recently asked New York City for an extra $88 million on top of the $547 million they've already received.

Take both teams' requests into consideration, and the taxpayers of the State of New York have funded close to $2 billion of new stadium-related costs. To make matters worse, both teams have a deal with the state not to pay sales or property tax on the stadiums or other related structures built (i.e., parking garages), and also plan to receive low-cost electricity from the state.

And what are the Yankees spending their money on? Teak armed seats, HDTVs in bathrooms, a Jumbo Tron, and stadium restaurants that threaten the business of local restaurants. Smells like a raw deal.

Granted, millions of Americans brave standing room only and high ticket prices to enjoy America's pastime, but how are baseball executives across the country asking for this kind of money from taxpayers with straight faces? How about spending that kind of money on education? Remind me again why this public funding of baseball is shielded from scrutiny?

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