June 8, 2005
Image Courtesy New York Jets/
New York Sports and Convention Center
The highly contentious New York Sports
and Convention Center, proposed for the Far West Side neighborhood
of Manhattan, was defeated on Tuesday because State Assembly
Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph L.
Bruno refused to approve the plan. The vote ended New York
Mayor Michael Bloombergs multi-year quest to secure
a new stadium, not only for the New York Jets, but for the
2012 Summer Olympic Games. Although the Olympic bid is not
dead, it appears to be in grave condition, as Bloomberg tacitly
acknowledged at a breakfast meeting yesterday morning.
The $2.2 billion, 75,000-seat stadium, was also designed
to accommodate overflow from the adjacent Jacob K. Javits
Convention Center. It was being designed for the Jets by New
York-based Kohn Pedersen Fox, and would have been built over
the Metropolitan Transit Authorities' West Side Railyards.
KPF had recently replanned the stadium so it would better
fit the low-rise character of the neighborhood. These adjustments
included an almost 40-percent reduction in height, and the
addition of a semi-transparent glass facade. But these efforts
were of no avail.
At a press conference Tuesday night, Silver, who held the
deciding vote on the states Public Authorities Control
Board, pointed to a number of issues facing the city as reasons
for not supporting the plan. The most important, perhaps,
was his position that 24 million square feet of additional
development planned for the area would have siphoned crucial
business and financial support away from Lower Manhattan and
Ground Zero itself, which are still struggling after 9/11.
Both are within the legislative district represented by Silver.
About $1.6 billion of the stadium's tab would have been paid
for by the Jets, including $250 million for the MTA site.
The remaining $600 million would have been split by the city
and state in the form of public subsidies. Many critics said
that because the railyards were undervalued by hundreds of
millions of dollars, the true cost of the project was already
Considering the challenges already facing the City
and the state of New York, this plan, at best, is premature,
said Silver. The 2012 Summer Games 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.
Predictably, stadium supporters like the Jets, Bloomberg,
and New York Governor George Pataki were outraged. The Jets
pinned much of the blame on the Cablevision Corporation, which
owns nearby Madison Square Garden, and which feared the stadium
would have competed with its property as an entertainment
venue. Cablevision made its own development plan and had offered
even more than the Jets for the MTA property, but lost on
a technicality. Referring to Cablevision, Marissa Shorenstein,
senior manager for strategic planning with the Jets said,
The Olympics, the Super Bowl, new conventions, and most
importantly, thousands of jobsall would be sacrificed
so that a monopoly can retain its stranglehold on the sports
and entertainment industry in New York City.
Bloomberg also warned that the defeat of the stadium would
not only cost the city the Olympics, jobs, and tax revenue,
but would discourage builders on the Far West Side and elsewhere
from pursuing other projects in the city.
One of the great dangers is that developers are going
to get disheartened and say I cant build anything
in New York City because the politics always get in the way
of what happens, he told reporters yesterday morning.
Bloomberg is not alone in bemoaning the wariness of New Yorks
state government to fund large-scale projects, although many
support the governments ability to veto developers
The stadium had been one of the most contentious building
projects in recent city history, as many designers, planners,
and neighborhood groups voiced disapproval of the projects
impact, both economically and aesthetically. Many felt the
stadium would pull money away from needed projects, ruin the
character of the neighborhood, interrupt any connection with
the Hudson River, and bring unmanageable traffic and crowds
into the area on game days. Supporters felt the project would
not only be a boon to sports fans, but would help catalyze
a new development area in the city.
The Far West Side, or Hudson Yards District is a forty-square-block
area enclosed by 42nd and 30th Streets, and 8th and 11th Avenues
in Manhattan. The light-industrial area has long lain dormant,
and was recently rezoned to allow significant amounts of commercial
and residential development. While there is a slim chance
that the stadium project may still return, most have concluded
this is unlikely.
For KPF, the projects failure means the loss of at
least four years of work. KPF said it could not comment at