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State board kills plan for Jets stadium


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State board kills plan for Jets stadium

BY JOE MAHONEY in Albany

and MICHAEL SAUL in New York

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

W. Side story: No way!

State board kills plan for Jets stadium

BY JOE MAHONEY in Albany

and MICHAEL SAUL in New York

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

An obscure state board rejected the proposed $1.9 billion West Side stadium yesterday, dealing a catastrophic blow to the city's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games and to the Jets' dream of returning to New York.

Mayor Bloomberg, the project's top supporter, conceded defeat - even hinting at the humiliating specter of withdrawing the city's Olympic bid, which would end a 10-year marathon for the world's most prestigious sporting event just one month before the finish line.

"As for our Olympic bid," said Bloomberg, his voice raw with emotion for a moment, "rejection of the stadium will seriously damage our chances at winning the 2012 Games.

"We will be talking to the United States Olympic Committee, which selected us to represent the United States and its citizens, about the situation," said Bloomberg, refusing to elaborate.

The Public Authorities Control Board - a panel controlled by Gov. Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno - voted not to approve the stadium at a meeting in Albany late yesterday afternoon.

The stadium required the unanimous approval of the board's three voting members, and representatives for Silver (D-Manhattan) and Bruno (R-Rensselaer) both abstained, killing the project.

Asked whether the West Side project is definitively dead now, Silver said glibly, "It's never been alive.

"The 2012 Summer Olympics are being used as a shield to hide another goal: to shift the financial and business capital of the world out of lower Manhattan and over to the West Side," charged Silver, who represents lower Manhattan.

"Am I supposed to turn my back on lower Manhattan as it struggles to recover? For what? A stadium? For the hope of bringing the Olympics to New York City?" he railed.

The stadium's stunning defeat came just hours after the International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission released a 123-page technical analysis of the bids from the five finalist cities. New York is competing against Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow.

The report did not rank the cities but it clearly suggested Paris was the best, London was next and Moscow was the worst. New York received high praise, though, and Olympic observers pointed out that the city with the highest technical evaluation doesn't necessarily win, as was the case with the past two Summer Games.

Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, founder of the city's Olympic bid, described the vote as "deeply disappointing" because it came on a day when the IOC report "verified the strength of New York's bid."

Bruno had said he would support a West Side stadium on the condition that New York is awarded the Olympics. But Silver insisted he wouldn't support a stadium at that site.

Over the weekend, Bloomberg floated various incentives and protections to ensure the West Side didn't grow at the expense of lower Manhattan. The incentives included waiving the commercial rent tax in whole or in part for five years for all Manhattan below Chambers St. and for 12 years on the World Trade Center site, as well as a $5-per-square-foot rent subsidy to new tenants at 7 World Trade Center or the Freedom Tower.

Jets President Jay Cross said the "project is being held hostage by politics that have nothing to do with what's best for New York, and everything to do with what's best for Cablevision," referring to the project's chief opponent.

Charles Schueler, a spokesman for Cablevision, which spent roughly $30 million to scuttle the project, declined to comment when asked whether the company's offer to purchase the MTA's West Side railyards for $400 million still stood.

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Shelly Silver: Wrong, wrong, wrong

Daily News editorial

In the end, there was no reasoning with Sheldon Silver, nor was the Assembly speaker open to good-faith negotiations. Dead set on smothering development on Manhattan's West Side, he voted down the $2.2 billion stadium and convention center planned for the area. His stubborn, high-handed wrong-headedness was breathtaking.

Silver created many losers and only one winner. Thanks to him, New Yorkers lose out on getting a state-of-the-art arena that would have more than paid for itself through increased tax revenue; subway and bus riders lose out on as much as $2 billion for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; construction workers lose out on thousands of jobs; the hotel and tourism industry loses out on an influx of convention visitors, and the city loses a shot at hosting the 2012 Olympic Games.

Silver's lone beneficiary in this very bad bargain was Cablevision, the cable TV giant that spent millions of dollars on lobbying and public relations campaigns to defeat the stadium as a way to protect Madison Square Garden from competition. Among Cablevision's hooks was Silver's former top aide Pat Lynch. The company, apparently, got its money's worth.

The speaker justified blocking the state from investing in the stadium as a way to ensure that nothing distracts from development at and around Ground Zero, which is located in his Assembly district. He portrayed the stadium as a threat to lower Manhattan because it might encourage building in the Hudson Yards, a nearby 59square-block West Side area that the City Council has rezoned for office and residential development.

Silver's logic linking the stadium to the future of lower Manhattan is so specious that Mayor Bloomberg has good grounds to suspect the speaker of bad faith. The impression is only heightened by the fact that, after signaling he was open to wooing, Silver rejected with barely a shrug Bloomberg's offer to slash development incentives inside Hudson Yards and boost them downtown.

And City Hall's offer was substantial. The key elements for downtown included waiving the commercial rent tax in whole or in part for five years for all Manhattan below Chambers St. and for 12 years on the World Trade Center site, as well as providing a $5-per-square-foot rent subsidy to the first batch of tenants who signed leases in 7 World Trade Center or the Freedom Tower. Meanwhile, developers who built in the Hudson Yards would have to pay the equivalent of full real estate taxes for three years, and the charges would later be at least 10% higher than those downtown.

No one knows what, if anything, would have satisfied Silver. It is clear, though, that he labors under a fundamental misconception about government's ability to entice office tenants to lower Manhattan with financial incentives. Tax and rent breaks may work for a few companies, but most businesses today express a marked preference for being closer to midtown.

Many are looking for space in new buildings that have large floor plans, requiring the assemblage of big parcels of land. At the same time, financial service companies, traditional downtown residents, are seeking to diversify where they do business to blunt the impact of an attack or disaster at any single location. That's why downtown is so slow in coming back and why the Hudson Yards are drawing intense interest.

Killing the stadium will do nothing to change these basic market forces. Seven World Trade Center is not going to get paying tenants just because Silver barred the Jets from building a stadium several miles uptown. Nor will the Freedom Tower fill up because Silver refused to let the MTA sell the development rights over its railyard to the Jets for a hefty sum.

The speaker doomed the stadium by abstaining on a Public Authorities Control Board vote as hardhats called for his head. Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno abstained, as well. He was just as wrong, even as he clung to the fig leaf that he would support the stadium if the International Olympic Committee chose New York for the Games. The IOC gave the city's bid a good review yesterday. Say adieu to all that.

Say goodbye, too, to New York's reputation as a forward-looking city that welcomes sound business investment. The Jets had planned to pour $1.6 billion into the stadium, and they were unceremoniously sent packing. The team says it will consider whether it can build without Silver's blessing. Let's hope so.

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What this process points out is the good old boy business as usual politics of NY State. How a decision can come down to one man is ludicrous. Silver and his counterpart Bruno have been in their respective positions for years, with anyone opposing them being banished to political Siberia. Did anyone hear a peep out of Silver about downtown before the stadium issue? This yoyo is on the front page of the newspaper and is loving the attention. Whether you wanted the stadium or not, the system is rancid and it sucks big time, doing nothing but putting self serving egomaniacs in the spotlight.

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Lets keep this accurate here , they didn`t vote down the stadium ,they voted down the public funding of the stadium ,so now it will just get funding from somewhere else

Right. Why would Woody and the Jets invest all this time, money and energy if they knew it would end like this? My gut says the project is far from over, and the last $300 million will come from somewhere else.

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The following is what Zimmerman had to write about the proposed Jets stadium. He seems to make sense. I only pasted the first page because that's the only page concerned with this topic.( From SI site).

Posted: Tuesday June 7, 2005 4:03PM; Updated: Wednesday June 8, 2005 1:46PM

New York, New York

Mayor Bloomberg wanted to build the Jets stadium on a plot of land located on the west side of Manhattan.

AP

Monday's political news: Jets stadium plan defeated. Yaaay! Even though the motives might have been self-serving, one politician (Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver) pushing his own Lower Manhattan district at the expense of another politician's (Mayor Michael Bloomberg) West Side interests -- the result was correct, I believe.

Spending a huge chunk of city funds to finance a rich man's toy, with the prospect of another huge expenditure to finance another toy -- the Olympics -- would be fine for a community such as, say Aspen, Colo., which is rolling in dough. But for New York, which needs so many other things, it's loony.

It would be like a guy who can't pay the rent coming home and announcing, "I've got a great scheme for making money and it's only gonna cost us a million."

I've seen this pseudo-Olympic pitch by New York from time to time. And I've always written how hypocritical it was when the city can't even afford to adequately fund high school sports, when it doesn't even have a decent place to hold a track meet. When the US Olympic trials took place in New York one year, they had to hold them on Randalls Island's decaying cinder track.

Hey, before you spend $600 million to help Woody Johnson out, how about fixing the highways? You have never seen potholes like there are in New York. OK, you see them out where I live, in Jersey, but they're pretty deadly in the city, too.

Once I saw a car hit a pothole and fall apart. I'm not kidding; the car was coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel from Jersey, and there was this monstrous crater that the driver saw at the last moment. He missed it with his front tires, but it grabbed a rear tire and ba-boom! The car just shuddered and the back end dropped off.

Every six months or so there's an editorial in one of the New York papers about the appalling pothole situation, so a crew goes out with a little tar, and does a cosmetic number. And the next time there's a heavy snowfall, there's the pothole again.

Hey, Bloomberg. Spend the money on things that are needed.

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