Hochul, Schumer are in talks with MLB to land Brooklyn and Rochester expansion franchises

Governor Kathy Hochul and Senator Chuck Schumer are in talks with Major League Baseball (MLB) to land the State two new team franchises: one in Brooklyn and another in Rochester.

Robert D. Manfred, the Commissioner of Baseball, has “agreed in spirit” to sell the State of New York two franchise licenses for a fee of $100 million each.  The State would then create an auction for the franchises, with MLB and the State splitting any revenue generated beyond the cost of the expansion fee.

In the tentative agreement, Empire State Development would commit to financing half the construction cost of a new venue (or the full cost of renovations required of an existing venue), for each of the teams.  The remainder of the venue cost would be funded by private ownership.

Talks are ongoing and the terms of the agreement have not yet been finalized.  Staffers hope the agreement will be ready for announcement by April 1st — when the state budget is due for passage by the legislature.

“The Bronx and Hudson Valley have the Yankees, Queens and Long Island have the Mets — Brooklyn deserves Major League Baseball, too,” a Hochul operative explains.  “Governor Hochul wants to make New York the most livable city in America.”

If someone bids $700 million for one of the franchises — which analysts predict to be the approximate winning bid for the Rochester franchise — the State and MLB would each profit $300 million (in addition to MLB’s initial fee of $100 million).

The State’s share of those monies would then fund half the cost of construction of a venue for the team, with the winning bidder expected to fund the remaining 50% of the venue construction cost.

Governor Hochul and Senator Schumer believe that the market for baseball and other other major league sports in New York is very strong, and with legalized sports betting will become stronger.  Analysts believe there is ample market opportunity for Rochester-based and Brooklyn-based franchises.

Officials from Empire State Development are planning a major marketing effort to solicit bids for the two new franchises, in order to ensure an ample amount of bid interest.

Overtures will be made to solicit bids for the Rochester franchise in particular, and the agency intends to send bid solicitation packages to billionaires Tom Golisano, Bob Rich, Jeffrey Gundlach, and Jeremy Jacobs — in hopes that a local owner can be found for the Western New York franchise.

Hochul expects bids for the Brooklyn franchise to far outpace bids for the Rochester franchise — with a winning bid predicted to exceed $2.1 billion.  A bid of that size would yield the State and MLB each $1 billion, with the State using those monies to fund half the cost of a new Brooklyn ballpark.

The franchise owner would fund the remaining 50% of the construction cost.

The move comes early in an election year for both, and league officials are expected to acquiesce to the expansion in order to avoid anti-trust accusations from the powerful Senate Majority Leader.

If Major League Baseball refuses to offer New York State two expansion licenses, Governor Hochul plans to woo the Miami Marlins to Brooklyn to instead.  The owner of the Marlins, Bruce Sherman, is a Queens native who has been considering moving the team for years.

Hochul wants the new Brooklyn ballpark to anchor a revitalization of Coney Island.   Hochul is planning a revitalization effort that will include beach improvements, a Santa Monica-style amusement pier, leafy new green space, and gondola-style public transit access to Breezy Point, Staten Island, and Dyker Beach.

Schumer is confident he can persuade MLB to go along with the plan, and is willing to help lead a public campaign to raise private investment capital for the project by promoting the Trump administration’s Opportunity Zone Tax Credit, if necessary.

“If I can’t get this done, I don’t deserve to be your Senator — let alone the Senate Majority Leader,” Schumer quips, according to a longtime staffer.  “The MLB will have the thanks of a grateful Majority Leader… that’s no small thing”.

Governor Hochul intends to fill the remainder of the Coney Island Creek to create an ample space for what will be the City’s largest baseball stadium — in the heart of the Coney Island neighborhood and adjacent to the Belt Parkway. Four subway stations are within walking distance of that site. 

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