NEW YORK -- The Rev. Al Sharpton and Olympic long jump
recordholder Bob Beamon joined thousands of union members at a
rally to support a West Side football stadium on Wednesday, the eve
of a crucial vote on the plan.
"This is not about fun at the stadium; this is about jobs at
the work site," said Sharpton, a new member of the pro-stadium
forces led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Jets, who
hope to play at the new facility starting in 2009. The stadium
would also host the 2012 Olympics if New York were chosen for the
The $1.7 billion stadium would be built on a platform over rail
yards owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The MTA
was scheduled to vote Thursday on the Jets' plan and two competing
proposals, including one from Cablevision, owners of Madison Square
Beamon, who set the Olympic long jump record of 29 feet, 2.5
inches in 1968, said he'd like to see someone try to break the
record "right here in Manhattan."
"I tell you, this is the place," he said. "The Apple is the
place to have the Olympic Games."
Jets head coach Herman Edwards also addressed the rally.
"Your passion is important," Edwards said. "It's very, very
important, because passion and belief gets things done."
Under the Jets' proposal, the team would provide up to $720
million, with $440 million coming from six developers who would buy
excess development rights on the site. Their offer would depend on
zoning changes. The state and city would pay $600 million for a
platform over the rail yards and a retractable roof.
Cablevision Systems Corp.'s offer of $760 million includes $400
million in cash up front and the rest in a promise to construct a
platform over the rail yards.