So Many Seats, So Many Tax Breaks


New York City is considered the country’s most crowded market for sports stadiums and arenas — many of which have been built with sizable public assistance in the form of free land, tax breaks and cash.

The New York area has more stadiums and arenas than any other location in the country. A soccer stadium in the Bronx or Queens and two arenas proposed for Long Island would bring the total to five stadiums and six arenas within 60 miles of Madison Square Garden, with a combined 335,271 seats for basketball, hockey, football, soccer and baseball teams.

There are an additional 41,181 seats at seven minor league ballparks within the same radius.

For much of the year when the teams are not playing, the venues compete for concerts, circuses, tractor pulls, wrestling extravaganzas and other events, all of which bring revenue necessary to make the venues economically viable.

Many of the stadiums and arenas have been built with sizable public assistance in the form of free land, tax breaks and cash.

The proliferation of minor league stadiums has not been a home run in every community. Riverfront Stadium, the former home of the Newark Bears in Newark, is scheduled for demolition.


Existing Stadiums

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Yankee Stadium in 2011.CreditCaleb Ferguson for The New York Times

Yankee Stadium

Location: Bronx

Year Opened: 2009

Seats: 47,422

The stadium cost more than $2.3 billion to build. The New York Yankees supplied $670.6 million of that money and the rest, about $1.186 billion, came in the form of public money and tax breaks.

Citi Field

Location: Queens

Year Opened: 2009

Seats: 41,800

The project cost about $830.6 million with $134.91 million coming from the New York Mets, and $614.3 million in public money and tax breaks.

MetLife Stadium, at rear right, in 2011.CreditMel Evans/Associated Press

MetLife Stadium

Location: East Rutherford, N.J.

Year Opened: 2010

Seats: 82,500

Built by the N.F.L. teams, the New York Jets and the New York Giants, on state-owned land at a cost of $1.6 billion. New Jersey spent $250 million in highway improvements, transit and utilities. The Jets and Giants pay a modest rent, but under the terms of their current lease do not share the revenue from parking, luxury suites or premium club seats or concerts.

Red Bull Arena

Location: Harrison, N.J.

Year Opened: 2010

Seats: 25,000

With a total cost of $285 million, the city and county government spent $84 million buying the land for the stadium and building a parking deck. The New York Red Bulls contributed the rest.


Existing Arenas

Madison Square Garden under construction in 1966.CreditFox Photos/Getty Images

Madison Square Garden

Location: Manhattan

Year Opened: 1968

Seats: 20,789

The most recent version of Madison Square Garden, at Pennsylvania Plaza in Midtown Manhattan, was completed in 1968, and underwent a $1 billion renovation that was completed in 2013. The Garden has had a property tax exemption since 1982, which was worth $17.3 million in 2014 and will increase to $41.5 million in 2019.

Nassau Coliseum

Location: Uniondale, N.Y.

Year Opened: 1972

Seats: 17,760

Nassau Coliseum is owned by Nassau County. The recent $180 million renovation was privately funded. The current operator, BSE Global, pays the county 8 percent of gross revenues, or $4 million annually, whichever is greater under the terms of their operating agreement. The Coliseum lost the New York Islanders hockey team to Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but the team will return this season. The Long Island Nets, and affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, also call it home.

Barclays Center in March 2012. It opened a few months later, on Sept. 28.CreditAndrew Burton/Getty Images

Barclays Center

Location: Brooklyn

Year Opened: 2012

Seats: 19,000

Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets and, briefly, the Islanders, was built for a cost of $1 billion. The project received $260.3 million in state and city funding, in addition to property tax exemptions totaling $266.6 million from 2004 to 2018.

Prudential Center

Location: Newark, N.J.

Year Opened: 2007

Seats: 19,500

This $460 million project was funded with $155 million from the New Jersey Devils hockey team, along with $305 million in public money.

Proposed Sites

New York City F.C. Soccer Stadium

Proposed Location: the Bronx.

Year It Will Open: To be determined

Seats: 26,000

The nascent proposal projects that the stadium would cost about $400 million. The franchise is four years old and has been playing its home games at Yankee Stadium.

Belmont Park Arena

Location: Elmont, N.Y.

Year It Will Open: Projected 2019

Seats: 18,000

The arena, planned as the new home for the New York Islanders, is part of a proposed $1 billion complex, to be built by Sterling Equities and Oak View group and their partners. It would be located eight miles from Nassau Coliseum.

Ronkonkama

Location: Ronkonkama, N.Y.

Year It Will Open: No date projected

Seats: 17,500

A proposed $1.1 billion sports complex and convention center, would sit on 40 acres in this Suffolk County town and be home to a yet-to-be-determined sports team. The proposed structure would be built by the Chicago developer Jones Lang LaSalle.


Minor League Stadiums

In addition to the most well known large-scale stadiums and arenas, there also exists a second tier of smaller stadiums that serve minor league hockey and baseball teams, scattered through the metro area:

Skylands Stadium, home to the Sussex Skyhawks.CreditWarren Westura
  • Skylands Stadium in Augusta, N.J., 4,200 seats.

  • Yogi Berra Stadium in Little Falls, N.J., 5,000 seats.

  • Ballpark at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn., 5,500 seats.

  • Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., 10,000 seats.

  • Richmond County Bank Ballpark in St. George, S.I., a minor league affiliate of Yankees, 7,171 seats.

  • MCU Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn, home to Mets affiliated Brooklyn Cyclones, 7,000 seats.

  • Palisades Credit Union Park in Pomona, N.Y., 6,362 seats.

  • Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip, N.Y., 6,002 seats.

Charles Bagli covers the intersection of real estate and politics for the Metro Desk. He also wrote “Other People’s Money.” He ran the New York Marathon twice, coached girl’s softball for 12 years and raised two daughters with his wife, Ellie. Facebook



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