NEW YORK (AP) -The New York Yankees submitted lavish expenses to the city as planning costs for the new stadium they are building, a watchdog group said.
The group, Good Jobs New York, accused Yankees officials of turning in to the city's Department of Parks and Recreation receipts for 2005 for expenses including crystal baseballs, postseason bar tabs, wool baseball caps and gifts for corporate clients.
The group's project director, Bettina Damiani, called on the city comptroller to conduct an audit to make sure Yankees officials weren't submitting receipts unrelated to planning for the new stadium.
``Elected officials are turning a blind eye to the fact that the Yankees seem to have unfettered access to the public trough,'' Damiani said. ``It goes to show how the Yankees will stop at nothing to squeeze every penny from New Yorkers for this project.''
The new ballpark, on city parkland just north of the existing Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, is slated to open in 2009.
In 2001, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani authorized the Yankees to deduct up to $5 million a year on planning costs for the new stadium for five years for rent payments to the city, Good Jobs said.
Yankees spokeswoman Alice McGillion said Wednesday that invoices to which Good Jobs referred were never for rent credits.
``It has now been suggested that all items that were submitted were the subject of a rent credit request by the Yankees,'' she said. ``This is entirely, absolutely and definitively incorrect.''
Good Jobs, a privately funded organization that claims to keep track of how the city allocates subsidies for large economic development projects, said it is trying to ``debunk the myth that this is a privately financed project,'' Damiani said. In fact, Good Jobs said, the project is costing taxpayers $795 million in subsidies.
Good Jobs said it made a public records request with the parks department in April 2006 for the 2005 receipts. It says the parks department released the records in September.
The comptroller's office did not immediately respond to a message left through an after-hours telephone number on Wednesday night.
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