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Yankee Stadium Referendum Nixed

October 21, 1998

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ New York’s highest court has refused to allow a referendum Nov. 3 on whether to replace Yankee Stadium with a $1 billion ballpark in Manhattan.

The Court of Appeals on Tuesday refused to consider a last-ditch plea from Democrat Peter Vallone, the City Council speaker who is running for governor. Vallone opposes the effort to replace Yankee Stadium and wanted the idea put on the ballot in hopes of seeing it defeated.

The ruling was a victory for Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who is pressing for the new stadium but wants to do it without putting it to a vote. Some of his critics say that’s because he knows the public would vote down a move from the Bronx to Manhattan, several miles to the south.

Giuliani managed to get the Yankee Stadium referendum bumped off the ballot by arranging a referendum on campaign finance reform. Under the law, referendums that would change the city charter must appear alone on the ballot, with no other measures.

A judge in the Bronx sided with Vallone on Oct. 7 and ruled that the public is entitled to vote on the fate of Yankee Stadium, but the ruling was reversed unanimously by an appeals court 10 days later.

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals refused to hear the issue, saying no substantial constitutional question was involved.

Giuliani suggested building a new stadium in an area now filled with warehouses and railyards after Yankees owner George Steinbrenner indicated he might move the team from the Bronx to New Jersey when the club’s lease with the city expires in 2002.

Steinbrenner is unhappy with the blighted neighborhood around Yankee Stadium, its inaccessibility to some forms of mass transit and the lack of amenities in the stadium itself, including a shortage of luxury boxes.

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