New York City
The Yankees and Mets lobbying lineups
On the field, they want to win. In local government, the baseball teams have their own agendas
Did New York City Mayor Eric Adams curse the Mets by predicting a World Series win this year? (They lost in the wild card round.) And will his prediction of a Yankees sweep in the divisional series play out?
The mayor may be powerless over what happens on the field, but he’s got a lot of political pull, and the city’s Major League Baseball clubs are frequently seeking his blessing – as well as other players in government.
With the Yankees and the Mets both making the playoffs for the first time since 2015, here’s a look at their 2022 lobbying lineups, and what they’re playing for.
Randy Levine, Lonn Trost, Brian Smith: New York Yankees Partnership; Stanley K. Schlein: private practice; Michael Avella, Mike Avella Jr., Christina Dickinson, Eglantina Haxhillari: Dickinson & Avella; Vincent Pitta, Jon Del Giorno, Vito Pitta, Cesar Cardenas: Pitta Bishop & Del Giorno
- COVID-19 protocols
- Yankees President Randy Levine, a former deputy mayor under superfan Rudy Giuliani, directly lobbied both Gov. Kathy Hochul and Adams on “COVID protocols.” The team wanted an exception to the private sector vaccine mandate that would let their unvaccinated sluggers play, and they got it.
- Soccer stadium development
- Sometime in March or April, the team lobbied the city on the “status of soccer stadium development” – presumably for New York City FC, which is partly owned by the Yankees. The New York Post reported in July the city was close to a deal for a 25,000-seat stadium at Willets Point, but things have been quiet since then.
- 50/50 raffles
- You know those raffles sports teams love where half goes to the winner and half goes to charity? Details are thin, but the Yankees reported lobbying the city on the “potential revision of administrative code provisions regarding charitable 50/50 raffle activities” – just as the state gaming commission started allowing online raffle entries.
- Ticket sales
- The Bronx Bombers’ Albany team of Dickinson & Avella lobbied regarding a bill – still in committee – meant to enact some pro-consumer regulations on live event ticket sales.
Steve Cohen, Michael Sullivan: New Green Willets; Jason Ortiz, Jennifer Sedlis, Jason Laidley: Moonshot Strategies; Michael Avella, Mike Avella Jr., Christina Dickinson, Eglantina Haxhillari: Dickinson & Avella; Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Brian Simon, Bernadette DeVito, Andy Manshel, Shershah Akbar Khan: Hollis Public Affairs, Tal Golomb: Fried Frank, Jeff Nelson: RXR Development Services; Neil Weisbard: Pryor Cashman
- Building a casino at Willets Point, next to Citi Field, was the main focus of Mets owner Steve Cohen’s New Green Willets, which he used to lobby for both baseball issues and his development interests. Lobbyists reported meeting with more than a dozen elected officials, as well as the Division of the Budget and the Gaming Commission. A panel will review the applications next year, but it’ll help to have elected buy-in.
- Willets Point Development
- A new casino on what’s technically parkland is far from guaranteed, but other development at Willets Point, including residential, seems likely, so the Mets have also been meeting with Queens elected officials on “potential economic development, housing and mass transportation development.” They’ve also been meeting with the Port Authority, while their plan to route a LaGuardia AirTrain to the Mets’ No. 7 train stop is in purgatory.
- COVID protocols
- Like their crosstown rivals, the Mets successfully lobbied for a professional athlete carveout for the vaccine mandate.
- Ticket sales
- Easy job for Dickinson & Avella, who represents both teams in Albany, which both wanted to lobby regarding the bill regulating ticket sales.
- The Steve Cohen Military Health Clinic
- The billionaire hedge fund manager Cohen funds a network of mental health centers for veterans, including one at NYU Langone. He lobbied for funding in the state budget.
- The Tommie Agee School
- The team lobbied the New York City Department of Education to rename an East Elmhurst public school after the 1960s Mets center fielder. Adams held a ceremony at the school in August.
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