Two years have passed since the opening of new stadiums for the Yankees and Mets, but local businesses around the areas are still struggling.
In the Bronx, retailers near Yankee Stadium are looking for a pick up in the economy to boost sales. “I was very excited in the beginning when the new stadium opened and thought it was going to be better for us, but it was not,” said Mike Hong, owner of D&J Variety Store on 161st Street near the stadium.
In reality, the new stadium included more bars, restaurants and shops selling Yankees merchandise and memorabilia to compete with local merchants, a Metro-North commuter train stop and more parking spots that diverted foot traffic.
“The fact is, unlike before, people now have to make an effort to come in this direction, and that eliminates new people who don’t know about us,” said Michael Rendino, general manager of Stan’s Sports Bar.
Citi Field in Queens doesn’t have the same bar or restaurant culture, but some eateries have been effected.
“We’re still doing business but it’s not how it used to be,” said Jack Donovan, manager at Donovan’s, which opened in 1966. “We still have old-timers stop by for burgers and beers before they run down to the game, but the new restaurants in Citi Field are definitely taking away some of our business.”
Retailers also say that the poor performance of the Mets is detrimental to business.
“Last year was a disaster — some of our regulars came and told me they weren’t going to continue paying for season tickets because of the product on the field,” said Chuck Rose, owner of the Pine Restaurant of Queens.
The potential redevelopment of Willets Point provides a light at the end of the tunnel for struggling retailers. But while the city controls 90 percent of the land in the initial phase, nine private owners are refusing to sell their property. [WSJ]