Gala at the Historic Plaza Hotel Featured New York Yankees and New York Mets Baseball Legends, Mayor Bloomberg and Tourism Leaders

New York City (December 9, 2009)—Tonight the NYC & Company Foundation held its ninth annual fund-raising gala, the Leadership in Tourism Award Dinner, at the newly restored landmark Plaza Hotel. This year's dinner marks the first time baseball teams have been honored with the Leadership in Tourism Award. The New York Mets and New York Yankees received the foundation's highest honor for opening new Major League ballparks and their respective roles as tourism ambassadors for the City. The event serves as the principal fund-raiser for the NYC & Company Foundation, which produces cultural tourism marketing programs that promote more than 200 of New York City’s nonprofit cultural organizations in all five boroughs.

This year's event was attended by Yankees David Cone and Lee Mazzilli and Mets Ed Charles, Ron Darling, John Franco and Ed Kranepool. Accepting awards on behalf of the teams were New York Yankees General Partner/Vice Chairperson Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, President Randy Levine and COO Lonn Trost and former NY Mets team captain and native New Yorker John Franco.

"The NYC & Company Foundation continues to do a fantastic job of promoting cultural attractions in all five boroughs," said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "The cultural landscape is an essential part of what makes New York City the world’s most exciting destination, and thanks to the work of the Foundation, people around the world get a real sense of the unparalleled diversity and vibrancy of the City’s arts and cultural organizations that attract millions of people each year."

"This evening's honorees are New York City icons and are hugely popular among visitors and New Yorkers alike, and their efforts provide tremendous benefits to the City as a whole,” said NYC & Company Chairman Emily Rafferty. “In this tough economic climate, support for New York City’s cultural organizations is more important than ever, and the work of the NYC & Company Foundation is critical to ensuring the vibrancy of the arts and cultural organizations in all five boroughs."

"Yankee Stadium and Citi Field are two new iconic New York City destinations and will only increase the importance of both teams to the City," said George Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Company. "Both the Mets and the Yankees have made tremendous contributions to the City’s economy and particularly to the $32.1 billion tourism sector that supports nearly 315,000 jobs in all five boroughs."

With their commitment to the importance of "doing well while doing good," the core of the Mets' corporate philosophy, the New York Mets Foundation has funded and promoted a wide range of educational, social and athletic programs for more than 45 years, such as their generous support of the Starlight Children's Foundation, which alleviates the suffering of children with serious illnesses. In April 2009 the Mets opened Citi Field, replacing the legendary Shea Stadium, which had served as the team's home for 45 years.

Yankee Stadium opened in April, replacing it’s 86 year old predecessor the team’s home since 1923. The Yankee organization continues to contribute to the Bronx community and extends its impact throughout the City through their charitable trust and the Yankee Universe Program, which provides financing and player visits to children battling cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital.

New York City's cultural community continues to be a significant draw for both New Yorkers and visitors. Despite the economic downturn, cultural attendance was up in the first nine months of 2009 compared with the same period the previous year. In 2008 nearly 22 million visitors to New York City, or 45% of the total visitors to the City, participated in a cultural activity during their stay.

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About NYC & Company Foundation:
The NYC & Company Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational organization whose mission is to support tourism to New York City by promoting the arts and cultural organizations that make visiting New York City a special and exciting experience. Since its inception in 1999, the foundation has focused on educating domestic and international audiences about the vibrant and diverse cultural community throughout New York City.

About NYC & Company:
NYC & Company is the official marketing, tourism and partnership organization for the City of New York, dedicated to maximizing travel and tourism opportunities throughout the five boroughs, building economic prosperity and spreading the positive image of New York City worldwide