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New York Olympic Bid Still Alive with Stadium Plan in Queens


Tentative site plan for Olympic/ Mets stadium in Queens.
Image courtesy NYC 2012

New York City’s Olympic bid isn’t dead after all.

The city’s chances to lure the games appeared bleak after its proposed stadium on the Far West Side of Manhattan was turned down last Tuesday by New York State’s Public Authorities Control Board. But yesterday Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the New York Mets’ principal owner Fred Wilpon announced a plan to build a new stadium for the Mets in Flushing, Queens, which could be converted into an Olympic-size arena should New York win the games.

The stadium, to open in 2009, would replace the Mets’ Shea Stadium, and hold 45,000 fans for baseball. It would be converted into an 80,000-seat stadium for the Olympics after the 2011 baseball season. The Mets would likely play at Yankees Stadium or an alternative site in 2012.

“It wasn’t our first choice, but it’s an awful good alternative,” the mayor said at the City Hall press conference. “New Yorkers aren’t quitters. We just don’t walk away from our future.”

Wilpon told mlb.com, the official web site of Major League Baseball, that the Mets’ new stadium would look similar to Ebbets Field, the longtime home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. A plan for such a stadium, with a brick and limestone façade and exposed steel girders, was first proposed by the Mets in 1998. The cost of the stadium, Wilpon said, would likely be around $600 million, and would be paid for by the Mets. Construction will begin next year, regardless of whether the city wins its Olympic bid.

The city and state will provide $180 million in aid to upgrade supporting infrastructure, and about $100 million to make the stadium Olympic-ready if the city is chosen to host the games. NYC2012, the committee organized to bring the Olympics to New York, will contribute $142 million toward this cost. The 35,000-seat addition required for the games would be removed after the games’ conclusion.

The Mets would also be compensated for not playing at its home in 2012. Unlike the Far West Side stadium, there appears to be little political opposition to the Queens stadium plan. It would also include press and broadcast centers, to be built across from the stadium in Willets Point, as part of the city’s development plans for that area.

New York is competing with London, Paris, Madrid, and Moscow to host the 2012 games. The host city will be chosen on July 6 in Singapore.

Sam Lubell

 

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