Rendell ready to help Yanks

Governor Rendell is preparing to give a major boost to the Yankees.

No – not the New York team that beat his beloved Phillies in the World Series, but their Triple-A affiliate, who play in Lackawanna County. The team’s stadium, PNC Field, needs major renovations, and Rendell says he’s willing to release 20 million dollars in already approved state bond money to help foot the bill.

The 2008 Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) bill provided $35 million for “acquisition, infrastructure improvements, developments and construction of Lackawanna County Baseball Stadium and adjacent property.”

Rendell’s press secretary, Gary Tuma, says the governor has consistently approved state bond money for minor league stadiums, because he believes they’re “economic catalysts.”

Not everyone feels that way.  House Republican Whip Mike Turzai of Allegheny County says he opposes using public money – especially borrowed funds – to pay for stadiums. “It’s suspect. I think it’s wrong,” he said – ironically from Virginia, where his son’s baseball team is playing in the quarterfinals of the Pony League World Series. “I mean look – have they created jobs in our state? No. I mean they haven’t. If you want to prioritize it, pay for it as you go. If that’s what you think it’s an appropriate expenditure, pay for it as you go.”

PNC Field would be the eleventh minor league ballpark to receive RACP money during the Rendell Administration. Others include Harrisburg’s Commerce Bank Park ($18.5 million in 2009), Centre County Baseball Stadium ($12 million in 2004), and a park in the Lehigh Valley, which received a total of $14 million in 2004 and 2006.

I asked Tuma whether the Yankees’ six-game triumph in the 2009 Fall Classic dissuaded Rendell from giving money to their affiliate’s park.

But Turzai says the Yankees connection does add insult to injury.

I’d point out to Turzai the $20 million in question is just a bit less than what Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira will make this year.

About pubradiopolitics
Scott covers state government and politics for Pennsylvania's public radio stations, including WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and WDUQ in Pittsburgh.

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