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Thanks for the subsidy

And oh by the way, our accountants throw curves and sliders as well:

Yankee Stadium is owned by the city. So is Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets. Supervising them falls to the Department of Parks and Recreation.

The ball clubs pay rent. But the city is stuck with sweetheart deals from the past, including one blessed by a certain baseball-loving former mayor, that allow the teams to deduct planning costs and other expenses from their rent bills.

This has led to some interesting arithmetic. Perhaps nothing beat the time in the 1990's when the Yankees tried to get New York taxpayers to subsidize the cost of an engineer who supposedly worked 168 hours a week. Care to guess how many hours there are in a week?

TIME and again, city auditors have found both ball clubs resorting to what might be described in this age of steroids as performance-enhanced bookkeeping.

Last summer, the city comptroller, William C. Thompson Jr., announced that the Mets owed the city more than $4.5 million. The club, he said, had a tendency to overstate its deductible expenses and understate its income from luxury boxes, concessions stands and the like. Not surprisingly, the Mets challenged his figures, but he held firm.

The pattern with the Yankees is similar. In late January, the comptroller's office issued an audit concluding that the team had improperly inflated its expenses by nearly $483,000 in a single three-month period of 2002.

Even with legitimate deductions, the ball clubs are able to slash their city rent charges in ways sure to arouse envy in any New York tenant. In 2003, the Yankees used various expenses to lower an $11.4 million rent bill to one of $5.1 million. The less prosperous Mets managed to take a $5.8 million bill and turn it, poof, into one of $311,000.

That's some talent, eh? From Clyde Haberman in the New York Times.