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The Nation

New York Stadium Proposal Moves a Step Closer to Goal

A state agency accepts the Jets' $720-million offer to develop a site on Manhattan's West Side.

April 01, 2005|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — A proposed $1.9-billion stadium designed to lure the 2012 Olympics to the city cleared its biggest hurdle yet Thursday, winning the blessing of the state agency that owns the land and handing a victory to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board unanimously accepted a $720-million offer from the New York Jets to develop the site on a railyard on Manhattan's West Side, turning down two competing proposals worth more money.

The 75,000-seat stadium is backed by the city and state and would allow the Jets to play in New York for the first time in a quarter-century. The Jets play home games at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Jets President Jay Cross said he hoped construction could begin in July, noting that the NFL recently awarded the city the 2010 Super Bowl on the condition that a new stadium be built.

Bloomberg, a Republican, has made the stadium the early centerpiece of his reelection campaign, insisting it will create jobs and growth in a largely underdeveloped area along the Hudson River.

In a statement, the mayor praised the Jets for investing in the city's future and added: "But ultimately, New Yorkers will be the big winners if this project becomes reality."

Many New Yorkers do not share his zeal, opposing the plan 53% to 38%, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released before the board's vote. Some residents have said the stadium will cause too much congestion and cost too much.

"Why are you doing this?" City Council Speaker and Democratic mayoral hopeful Gifford Miller asked the MTA board during public comment before the vote. "This is not over. This is a terrible mistake."

Olympic officials have said building the stadium is crucial to New York's bid. The International Olympic Committee will award the Games in July. Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow are the other finalists.

Among those who submitted competing bids for the site was Cablevision, the company that owns Madison Square Garden. It fears the new facility, which would be a few blocks away, would compete with the Garden and drain its revenue.

"It is obvious the Bloomberg fix was in," said a statement from Madison Square Garden.

The proposed stadium is subject to approval by the Empire State Development Corp., which has pledged its support, and by Republican Gov. George E. Pataki, Republican State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Bruno and Silver have expressed reservations.

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