Yankees fire back at Diaz: Team, MLB working to fix Nike deal that could hurt Bronx businesses

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Stores outside Yankee Stadium on March 31, 2011 in the Bronx. (Nick Laham/Getty Images)

CONCOURSE, the Bronx — The Yankees are firing back, vowing support for the local community after the Bronx borough president said a contract between Nike and Major League Baseball would “destroy” small businesses near Yankees Stadium.

According to Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., the deal would only allow the sale of official league merchandise at Nike “premium distribution points,” barring several family-owned stores from selling Yankees merchandise outside the stadium, which accounts for the vast majority of their revenue.

“If these eight businesses can no longer sell official Yankees merchandise they will be forced to close, and the area surrounding the stadium will be a ghost town,” Diaz said in an open letter addressed to the MLB commissioner, the Yankees’ president and Nike’s CEO.

Now, the Bronx Bombers have responded to Diaz with a letter of their own.

“It certainly would have been more productive if you had called us before you wrote your letter,” the Yanks said, via their attorney. “If you had, you would have been advised that we agree with you and support our local Bronx businesses,” the letter continued.

The team said they immediately reached out to MLB with similar concerns when they first learned of Nike’s plan last week.

Quoting an email sent to the MLB dated Oct. 25, the team wrote, “Yankee Stadium is located in a diverse and one of the poorest communities in the United States. As such, the local retailers expend substantial time in developing their businesses, especially with respect to their ability to sell MLB licensed product.”

The quoted email said the executive director of the local Business Improvement District had brought the issue to the attention of the New York City Council.

“The magnitude of the problem is extreme,” the team stressed.

The Yankees said MLB feels similarly and wants Diaz and all elected officials to know that the league is “actively working with Nike to resolve the issue and is very confident that our respective concerns will be resolved in a matter that will allow local businesses to sell Yankees merchandise.”

Diaz has yet to publicly comment on the Yankees’ response.

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