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Street Fair Outside Yankee Stadium Won't Include Bronx Bombers

By Patrick Wall | June 27, 2013 7:56pm
 The Yankees did not offer to help run or fund the locally organized festival planned for its doorstep on July 13, 2013.
Stadium Street Fair
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CONCOURSE — The air outside Yankee Stadium will smell of grilled sausages and fried dough next month during the first ever Stadium Street Fair.

Organized by the local property owners group, the festival on River Avenue will feature outside vendors hawking everything from corn on the cob to funnel cakes, as well as some local merchants, including a sports bar owner who, for charity, will submit to the indignity of a dunk tank.

“We expect to have thousands of people come out for a beautiful day on River Avenue,” said Cary Goodman, head of the 161st Street Business Improvement District, the festival organizer.

But one local property owner will not be participating in the Stadium Street Fair — the New York Yankees.

Though the team was not asked to sponsor or otherwise support the fair, its decision not to voluntarily participate in a community event at its doorstep confirms for some the impression that the Yankees are a presence — but not a partner — in the neighborhood.

“It’s a clear message: they’re an island unto themselves,” said Killian Jordan, a resident who sits on the local community board’s parks committee.

“We’re astonished by what a grumpy neighbor they are,” she added. “How non-contributive.”

A Yankees spokeswoman noted that the BID did not ask the team for help with the festival and referred questions to Goodman.

Goodman made clear that when he met with a team representative to inform him of the July 13 event, he did so as a “professional courtesy,” not to solicit contributions or assistance.

Still, once the team was aware that a community-sponsored event was planned for the avenue outside its stadium gates, it could have easily become involved if it wanted to, Goodman added.

“The Yankees, like anybody else in the neighborhood, can be a part of it by simply picking up the phone and saying they want to,” he said.

When the Yankees decided several years ago to build a new stadium atop two public parks across the street from its historic ballpark — with taxpayers footing the bill for the old stadium’s demolition and the replacement parks’ construction — many locals were ready to make war on the team.

But now that the last replacement park is open, after delays, most tempers have cooled.

Instead, there is a sense among some residents that the two sides — the team and the community — mainly keep to themselves, even if that means scheduling parking, shopping and dining around the influx of fans on the Bombers' 81 scheduled home games.

The first-ever community-sponsored festival outside the stadium was partly a way to bridge this divide, said Michael Rendino, a BID member and the Stan’s Sport Bar owner who will sit in the dunk tank.

“Whenever there’s a Yankees game going on, people feel shut out,” Rendino said. “[The festival] is to show that we can all coexist here successfully.”

After the BID’s annual public meeting Wednesday, few people seemed surprised that the Yankees had not played a role in the Stadium Street Fair.

“It’s the big elephant across the street,” one person grumbled, “that won’t come out of its cage.”

The festival will happen July 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on River Avenue between 158th and 161st streets.