N.Y. state economic development agency approves proposal

NEW YORK -- A proposal for a $1.4 billion
stadium for the New York Jets professional football team inched
ahead on Thursday as the Empire State Development Corp., the
state's economic development agency, approved a general plan
for the project.

The proposed stadium on Manhattan's West Side, which would
also double as expanded convention space next to the Jacob
Javits Convention Center, still faces many hurdles before fans
can root from a stadium along the Hudson River's shoreline.

The National Football League's Jets have committed to
spending $800 million for the stadium, while the city and state
have each ponied up $300 million.

Proponents of the project, called the New York Sports and
Convention Center, include New York City Mayor Michael
Bloomberg, who has touted the tax and job benefits the city
would gain from the project.

The mayor also is counting on the proposal as a centerpiece
in the city's bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

But opponents, including the New York Association for
Better Choices, a coalition of elected officials, community
leaders, residents and businesses, say the stadium would create
unnecessary traffic and parking problems and that the land
could be better used for other needs.

"The group is also alarmed by commitments to dedicate at
least $600 million in public funds to the stadium project, at a
time when schools are failing, firehouses are closing and other
critical city functions are underfunded," Whit Clay, a
spokesman for the coalition, said on Thursday.

Other obstacles still stand in the path for the Jets, who
hope to start construction on the stadium early next year.

The facility would be built on a platform above railyards
currently owned by state's Metropolitan Transportation
Authority, but a settlement on the land's worth still needs to
be resolved between the city and the MTA.

The project is going through final environmental reviews,
and public hearings will be held on the project.

The city council also needs to sanction the plan, which
would require neighborhood rezoning.