World Series Subplot: Homeless Teams Spats over Stadiums Underlie Games. New York Mayor Mulls New $1.3 Billion Facility

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First the Dodgers left Brooklyn's Ebbetts Field when they couldn't get a new stadium. Now, as legendary Yankee catcher Yogi Berra once said, "Its deja vu all over again."

As the New York Yankees and the San Diego Padres get set to kick off the World Series tomorrow, both teams are grumbling over their stadiums.

The Yankees, who play in the "House That Ruth Built," want luxury boxes, a better neighborhood, no traffic jams, and improved parking. San Diego residents will get a chance to vote Nov. 3 on a referendum to replace their 1960s-era Qualcomm stadium with a new $411 million facility that has all the latest 1990s electronic amenities. It's the Yankees, however, that have created the most furor - after all, Yankee Stadium has a long historical relationship with the national pastime. It's where Babe Ruth belted all those home runs, Joe DiMaggio set a new standard for baseball excellence with his 56- game hitting streak, and those Bronx Bombers, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, put fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers. But now the Yankees' principal owner, George Steinbrenner - a man known around town simply as "The Boss" - is unhappy. He wants to draw 3 million fans a year to Yankee games - a feat almost accomplished this year when the club set an American League record for wins. But Mr. Steinbrenner thinks attendance is lagging because stockbrokers don't want to ride the subway to the gritty working-class neighborhood that surrounds the stadium. After the season ends, he may make a decision as to where his team will play after its lease expires at the end of 2002. Professional teams demanding new stadiums is a recurring issue. According to Fitch-IPCA, a rating agency, about 30 of the 113 pro sports teams are looking for new facilities. Since 1987, slightly more than 30 new stadiums have been built at a cost of $5 billion. To keep the Yankees from jumping to New Jersey, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani - an avid Yankee fan - is considering building a covered stadium on Manhattan's West Side that could cost $1.3 billion. The issue has even entered the realm of politics with one of the gubernatorial candidates, Democrat Peter Vallone, trying to get a referendum on where the Yanks will play. The referendum question is now tied up in the courts where an appeals court heard arguments yesterday. In an initial decision, the lower court judge called Yankee Stadium a "tabernacle of sport" and ruled that the city has to let the voters decide before building a new stadium. Baseball only, please On the other coast, the Padres are unhappy with Qualcomm Stadium (a.k.a. "The Big Q"), which was originally built for both football and baseball. The stadium was expanded to accommodate the Super Bowl in 1998, but today, stadium owners want single-use fields such as Camden Yards in Baltimore or Jacobs Field in Cleveland. With a new stadium, team owners imagine the city - a popular tourist and convention destination - getting the All Star Game and a crack at World Cup Baseball, a potential international event dreamed up by Major League Baseball. …


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