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Businessweek Archives

Keep The Yankees In The Bronx



The straight-out-of-Hollywood journey of the Yankees is more than just the triumph of a baseball club with lots of heart--it is a metaphor for New York. The Yankees are a team of characters off a subway car. There are the screwups who find redemption in the Bronx (Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden), the driven yuppie (Paul O'Neill), the quiet worker-heroes (Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams), the lovable kid (Andy Pettitte), and the hard-nosed manager with a side as soft as a hot-dog roll (Joe Torre).

New York City, like the ball team that carries its name, has made a series of stunning comebacks. Nothing more vividly describes the turnaround of the city than the scene of well-behaved New Yorkers giddy with victory after the sixth and deciding game of the World Series. No drunken riots. No vandalism. No crime. (European soccer should be so lucky.) The mercurial leaders of both the Yankees and New York--principal owner George Steinbrenner and Mayor Rudy Giuliani--can take a bow, respectively, for the success of the team and the revival of the city. The Yankees and the city are winners again because of what Steinbrenner calls their "mental toughness." Mental toughness makes you keep plugging when the Series is 2-0, and you're the 0. It keeps you battling against all odds to turn the nation's meanest streets into some of its safest.

Trouble is, Steinbrenner has been negotiating with the city over moving one of the most profitable franchise in baseball out of the Bronx to a site in Manhattan or across the Hudson River to New Jersey. Yet if the Yankees embody the spirit of the city, then they belong in New York. And if they belong in New York, they probably belong in Yankee Stadium--not in some domed edifice with artificial turf. With a fraction of the taxpayer money needed to build a new ballpark, Yankee Stadium and its neighborhood could be spruced up to be a fitting home for a legendary franchise.

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