Jets Stadium Stays In Limbo

The final decision on the proposed stadium for the New York Jets was still forthcoming at press time because New York’s Public Authorities Control Board shelved its decision on the matter until June 2nd.

The three-man committee is the last stumbling block to getting the $2.2 billion facility built on New York City’s West Side railyards. The project, which not only would house the New York Jets football team but also Olympic competitors if NYC is granted the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, is bitterly opposed by the owner of Madison Square Garden and does not appear to have the backing of the majority of Big Apple voters.

Two of the three PACB members oppose the stadium. Only New York Gov. George Pataki favors the facility, but he has been accused of supporting it for political reasons. The other members – State Legislature Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno – have reservations, and Silver tabled a vote on the stadium from the committee’s May 27th meeting.

The delay did not surprise the stadium’s biggest cheerleader, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His office and the state are expected to contribute $600 million to the $2.2 billion package.

“When did New York walk away from taking shots and trying to get things?” Bloomberg reportedly said at a news conference. “Think about what kind of society we’re changing into here. We’re giving up before we even start? I don’t think so.”

Another opponent has emerged, according to Newsday: a flotilla of 106 economists, including a Nobel laureate, who signed an open letter against the stadium that was circulated by the National Taxpayers Union.

“Sports stadiums do not increase overall entertainment spending but merely shift it from other entertainment venues,” the letter said, adding that public subsidies for the stadium will not generate economic benefits.

The International Olympic Committee is expected to make its decision on the host city for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games about a month after the PACB’s expected vote. The committee has made it clear that NYC would need to have an Olympic stadium to win the Games.

Bloomberg believes NYC is out of the running if a facility is not in place. In the meantime, London raised its profile as a host city after Millennium Dome owner AEG announced a deal that would rename the arena the O2 and will make it available as one of London’s Olympic venues.

If NYC’s Olympic bid falls through, the New York Jets football team, which is paying for much of the project, would probably wind up rooming with the New York Giants at that team’s proposed venue at the Meadowlands Sports Complex.

Speaking of sports complexes, New Jersey’s Star-Ledger pointed out there are a lot of them in the works in the New York area. Along with the Jets and the Giants stadiums, there’s a possible venue change for the New York Yankees.

That’s not all: add in a possible new baseball stadium for the New York Mets, and the Brooklyn arena for the New Jersey Nets. There’s also a proposed venue in Newark, N.J., for the Devils hockey team. Philip Anschutz wants to build a $40 million soccer stadium in Harrison, N.J., and the owner of the Islanders hockey team wants to rebuild Nassau Coliseum.

Add to that a privately funded $300 million renovation to Madison Square Garden, and the final count is nine facilities built or renovated in and around New York City, the Star-Ledger pointed out.