George Steinbrenner, hands-on orchestra benefactor in Florida

Posted on: July 14, 2010

In Wednesday’s (7/14) St. Petersburg Times (Florida), John Fleming reveals an unexpected side of George Steinbrenner, the legendary owner of the New York Yankees who died at age 80 on July 13: “As a philanthropist, George Steinbrenner III had a complex relationship with the Florida Orchestra. He underwrote the orchestra’s annual holiday concerts for at-risk children at Ruth Eckerd Hall and the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. In 1995, Steinbrenner was instrumental in helping raise $3 million in a campaign that kept the orchestra alive. But the Boss could be a demanding benefactor. In 1996, he held up fulfilling a $300,000 pledge because of a disagreement about programming. ‘I keep telling them, I’m all in favor of Beethoven, Brahms and Tchaikovsky,” Steinbrenner said. ‘I love classical music. But the average American isn’t that fond of it. There should be more emphasis on pops.’ Steinbrenner’s relationship with the orchestra never recovered, and he eventually pulled his sponsorship of the pops series…. Despite those disagreements, Steinbrenner remained a supporter of the holiday children’s concerts, to the tune of about $40,000 a year…. Steinbrenner rarely missed the holiday concerts.”

Posted July 14, 2010