Stadium crucial to NYC's bid for 2012 Olympics

NEW YORK -- The New York Jets' plan for a $1.9 billion
Manhattan stadium that also could serve as the centerpiece of the
2012 Olympics cleared a major hurdle Thursday when its bid was
approved by the state agency that owns the proposed site.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board unanimously
accepted a $720 million offer from the New York Jets to develop the
site over a remote railyard on Manhattan's West Side, turning down
two competing proposals worth more money.
The 75,000-seat stadium is backed by the city and state and
would allow the Jets to play in New York for the first time in a
quarter-century. The Jets currently play home games at Giants
Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Jets president Jay Cross said he hoped construction could begin
in July, noting the NFL recently awarded the city the 2010 Super
Bowl on the condition of a new stadium.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican, has made the stadium the early
centerpiece of his re-election campaign, insisting it will create
jobs and growth for years to come in a largely underdeveloped
frontier along the Hudson River.
In a statement, the mayor praised the Jets for investing in the
city's future and added, "But ultimately, New Yorkers will be the
big winners if this project becomes reality."
Many New Yorkers do not share his zeal, opposing the plan by 53
percent to 38 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll
released before the vote. Some residents have said the stadium will
cause too much congestion and cost too much money.
"Why are you doing this?" City Council speaker and Democratic
mayoral hopeful Gifford Miller asked the MTA board during public
comment before the vote. "This is not over. This is a terrible
Outside the hearing, anti-stadium demonstrators began chanting
"Sweetheart deal!" after the vote was finished, while union
workers backing the plan replied, "Jobs! Jobs!"
Olympic officials have said building the stadium is critical to
New York's bid. The International Olympic Committee will award the
Games in July. Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow are the other
Among those who submitted competing bids for the site was
Cablevision, the company that owns Madison Square Garden. It fears
the new facility, just a few blocks away, would compete with the
Garden and drain its revenue.
"It is obvious the Bloomberg fix was in," said a statement
from Madison Square Garden.
The stadium still must be approved by the Empire State
Development Corp., which has already pledged its support, and by
Republican Gov. George Pataki, Republican State Senate Majority
Leader Joseph Bruno and Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Bruno and Silver have expressed reservations.