Dwayne Smith. 2nd June, 2005 - 11:14 pm
The New York Jets received good news on Thursday in their quest to build a state of the art facility in Manhattan when a State Supreme Court Judge ruled that their bid to acquire the necessary land from the Mass Transit Authority (MTA) was fair. The approval now leaves the Public Authorities Control Board?s (PACB) vote on Friday as the last obstacle in the way of the future home of the Jets and the 2010 Super Bowl, awarded to the Jets only if the New York Sports and Convention Center is built.
The PACB, little known before this issue, is comprised of Governor George Pataki, State Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno and the State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. While Pataki is firmly behind the stadium?s construction, Bruno and Silver have publicly come out as undecided. The vote has already been delayed two times going into Friday with Bruno and Silver, normally on opposite ends of issues, both saying they need more information and will not be pressured into making a vote before ready.
One of those items of information is the real economic impact that building a stadium, which will also serve as an extension of the Javits Center, will actually have. Last week 106 Economists representing the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) came out against New York State providing any funding toward the stadium?s construction. Although the Jets seek the state to build a platform over the west side rail yards, with their own money, the economic study points out that the $600 Million in direct subsidies and possible $96 Million in other related costs represent the highest taxpayer subsidies for a sports facility in US History. The NTU has been known to come out against any public funding of these arenas on the basis that there is little tangible evidence of public benefit in return.
Another issue on the mind of the Silver and Bruno is the final cost. Besides the stated cost of the platform ($300 Million), which will cover the West Side Railyards, there is concern that additional public funding will be needed. Both of the legislators insist that no definitive final figure has been presented to them and they will not vote to approve State funding without a cost they will be confident in.
With the International Olympic Committee (IOC) set to release its evaluation of the bids for the 2012 games on Monday, pressure has fallen on Bruno and Silver from a wide variety of officials. Not the least of whom is Peter Ueberroth, United States Olympic Committee Chairman. Ueberroth warned that failure to back the project before the evaluation will seriously damage New York?s bid since the other four cities in contention all have strong support from their respective governments.
In response to the warning, Silver and Bruno have pledged support for the stadium if the IOC selects New York City as the host of the 2012 Olympics and see the Monday deadline as unimportant. Silver still warns the he has unanswered questions that will prevent him from voting on the project as of today and feels it is not out of the question to postpone tomorrow?s vote again.
Despite the dire warning, today?s court victory gives the Jets bid momentum that it has clearly lost due to the aggressive and well-funded campaign by Madison Square Garden. With the lawsuit out of the way, the Jets will have just two of the three members of the PACB to convince. With public opinion mixed, they may find the two legislators far more daunting than the Million-dollar enemy they have taken care of in Madison Square Garden.