2005-04-13 / Editorials

Quick Action For Stadium Plan

The plan to build a new domed football stadium on the West Side of Manhattan scaled a major hurdle last week when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted to accept the New York Jets’ bid for the 13-acre site where the field will be built.

The Gazette feels that this plan should move forward now so that the stadium can be built in time for the 2012 Olympics, which New York City would have a much better chance of being awarded if the final approval is given to the Jets stadium plan being pushed furiously by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

And let’s not forget the offer by the National Football League to hold the 2010 Super Bowl in the new stadium, too.

To help move the plan forward, the courts should expedite the settlement of the suit brought by Cablevision to reverse the MTA award of the bid to the Jets. We feel that when the case is ultimately decided it will be in favor of the Jets, so let’s get that settled as expeditiously as possible.

The Gazette also would urge Governor George Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno to give their approval to Bloomberg’s proposal to contribute $300 million toward construction of the stadium. The governor has already indicated his support of the proposal, which also call for the state to contribute $300 million toward building the sports facility. Approval by Bruno and Silver would give the city a major boost for being awarded the 2012 Summer Games, so there should be no further stalling on their part.

There is plenty of precedent for major cities helping to subsidize new stadiums. It is done to help boost the local economy, create jobs and generate tax revenue.

In fact, New York City government administrations have for many years made a practice of subsidizing big businesses to prime the economic development pump in order to increase tax revenues, so why not do it to help a major stadium get built?

Ironically, for several years New York City has granted tax abatements to Madison Square Garden, which is owned by Cablevision, the stadium’s chief foe. Obviously, Cablevision wants to change the rules of the game now in order to protect its own interests. Silver and Bruno should see through this scheme and approve the Bloomberg/Jet stadium plan to boost the city’s chances of getting the 2012 Olympics and aiding the city’s economy too.

The Gazette favors the stadium in Manhattan, although building it in Queens would have been preferred for several reasons, the first being that it enhances our bid to hold the Olympic games in New York City. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) judged the city’s bid for the 2012 Olympics on the basis of there being a major stadium in Manhattan to anchor the games, and with a decision due on July 6 by the IOC on who will get the games, there would be no sense at this late date in not building in Manhattan.

Needless to say the Gazette , being a Queens newspaper and a major booster for development in the borough for all manner of things, gave a great amount of thought to this issue before deciding to favor the Manhattan stadium.

Among the factors that came into play was the relationship between the stadium development and the Javits Convention Center expansion.

Hopes for making the convention center into the most attractive such facility in the United States and the world require that a huge building, with the dimensions of the planned stadium, be available when and if the convention center operators have need for it.

A stadium adjacent to the convention center would enhance the value of both and lead to brightened economic opportunities for New York City as a whole.

As a subsidiary consideration, the city approved plans to extend the No. 7 line subway route from 42nd Street to the Far West Side to dovetail with the stadium and convention center plans, as well as to accommodate all the other residential and office tower developments planned for that area.

In short, the Gazette decided to support the stadium in Manhattan because it’s the best plan for New York City as a whole.

But this doesn’t mean that Queens is being cast aside for any new development in the Flushing area, where advocates of a major football stadium would have had the Jets build it. At this moment, a Request for Proposal (RFP) has been distributed calling for acquisition and demolition of the Willets Point auto junkyards. The proposal calls for new development of the blighted junk yard site, possibly with a new Shea Stadium. We strongly support this idea as long overdue, not only to eliminate the junk yard eyesore and possibly to gain a new baseball stadium, but also to move forward the overall development of Downtown Flushing into a 24-hour city.

There’s a time and place for everything—time for a new Jets stadium in Manhattan now that will spark jobs and economic growth for the city as a whole, and time now also for a major makeover of the Willets Point and adjacent Flushing area.

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