Mood: Just tired.
Music: How You Remind Me, Nickleback.
Game: World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Wipeout Pure, Lumines
Book: High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
If you don’t live in New York, you’re probably unaware of the huge battle going on in regards to the plans to put a new stadium on the West Side for the Jets.
The stadium would be going over the West Side Yards…effectively a several acre plot of land owned by the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) that hasn’t really been used for anything for the last 40 years, and probably more. In short, it was an enormous asset lying there gathering dust, dirt, homeless, and discarded train cars, etc.
Now, here’s where things get interesting. The NY Jets, along with the Mayor of NY (Mike Bloomberg…yes…that Bloomberg) put together a plan to get a stadium over the West Side Yards. I say “over” because the plan is to put what they call a “deck” over the entire property to place the stadium on. The land itself will be used for other things, such as transportation, parking, mechanical stuff, and so on.
Because no one was using the land, and haven’t been for umpteen years, the Jets came up with a land figure of about $100 million bucks, just for the rights to put the platform up and build on top of it.
Things were going great, the MTA was happy, the city was happy, the Jets were happy. The city placed the new stadium as a key component of the NYC2012 Olympic Bid. The Jets started planning, and sent out plans.
Then someone, some moron of a city councilman, Gifford Miller, decided to say “Hey…wait…the MTA wants to raise fares! Why are you selling this land for only $100 million bucks? It should be worth far more than that!” Whereupon comedy really hit the fan. The Dolans, owner of Cablevision, and curiously enough, Madison Square Garden, offered about $300 million dollars cash for the land.
Naturally, they did this a few short weeks before the IOC was coming to New York to visit to determine the suitability of the city as a venue for the Olympic Games.
The Dolans proceed to pick up on the straphanger’s plight. How could you raise fares when you didn’t even put this property up for open bid? We want to revitalize the city, and we think the best way to do that is to put housing on that land instead! The city doesn’t need a stadium. All this coming from the owners of Madison Square Garden, the city’s only sports venue in Manhattan…which happens to be less than 10 blocks away from the proposed venue of the new Stadium.
The Dolans had no plans. They just figured it was worth $300 million to completely lock up the last possible location for a sports venue in the city to ensure that they had the only place for sporting in Manhattan for at least a very very long time. They claimed to be fighting for the subway riders, and the people who needed housing…but it was all thinly veiled bullshit to protect their interests.
But all the nonsense had its effect. The MTA was pretty much forced to stop the sale of the land to the Jets, and reopened bidding on the Yards. Bloomberg was furious. One does not lightly make NYC’s mayor and self-made billionaire furious. Gifford Miller, the speaker, is talking about how it was a great victory for the subway riders…more money for the MTA in this deal will enable the MTA to prevent fare hikes.
Cablevision scrambles to put together a real plan for the West Side Yards…residential, shopping, parks…but it’s all thin…because no developers are willing to side with the Dolans. Why? Because pissing off Mike Bloomberg in his major focus of getting the Olympic Games in NYC in 2012 is a bad, bad idea. The Olympic Games will result in billions upon billions of dollars of construction…and if you go with the Dolans on this, Mayor Mike will make damned sure you don’t see a penny of it. No developers that crazy, you see.
Couple that with the fact that the land has already been zoned for a stadium (Looks like the governor wants that stadium built…) and all of a sudden, the Cablevision bid requires rezoning, other factors and whatever. Bloomberg laughs.
On the other hand, the Jets up their bid by a factor of four, put together a package that includes 6 name NY land developers, put the whole bid in silver cases, and have them hand delivered by past and current Jets players. Their bid requires minor rezoning to accomodate all the new developers, but it’s largely the same idea with more plans for the remaining land use.
When the dust cleared, the MTA board decided that the Jets had the best bid, even though it was 10 million less than Cablevision…because it was a solid plan.
During all this, the construction unions come out in force for the Stadium. The NFL gives the city the Superbowl…if the stadium is built. The IOC agrees that the Stadium is a big part of the bid. Local politicians are complaining about the stadium. How it’ll mean traffic nightmares, crowding, crime, fare hikes…blah blah blah.
The man on the street thinks that the stadium is a bad idea because they think the city will be overcrowded, that fares will increase, and because they think they’ll be paying for the stadium.
How short-sighted is all this?
The MTA deficit is over $300 million dollars a YEAR. Great. So you bought a year with the added money…that the Jets now agree to pick up. Then your fares go up anyway. And the MTA no longer has the influx of cash. The deficit isn’t going away whether they sell that land or not, or for how much.
The addition of a stadium, a trillion dollar construction project, will keep thousands of construction workers busy for years. The added renovations to the surrounding area will increase the subway infrastructure in the area, and connect a huge space to the Convention Center, only making it more attractive as a venue for large events.
The Superbowl, a given, will provide NYC with a shot of energy and more jobs. The Olympics, not a foregone conclusion, can only be helped by the addition of a brand new stadium.
The Dolans are now suing the MTA for choosing, in their eyes, a worse bid. The Dolans just want to lock sports out of Manhattan for the foreseeable future. The proof of that is that they own the Knicks and Rangers. What more proof do you need than that?
The Straphangers Coalition is siding with the Dolans, because they get to sue with the Dolans’ money…which is not insubstantial.
In the meantime, anyone with half a brain is staying out of it. Getting between Bloomberg and James Dolan is a great way to get pounded into paste.
The city council, which has no say in this matter, has been jumping up and down, trying to stomp all over each other, in hopes of being the Democratic Mayoral Candidate. (Side Note: In spite of being the last bastion of Urban Democracy in the US, NY’s last two mayors have been Conservative/Republicans. Just not in a social sense. It makes perfect sense. Think about it.) They have no chance of being Mayor, of course…mainly because they’re morons who think that preventing a fare hike by selling MTA assets this year is a long-term plan, whereas a stadium, which will generate millions in taxes, revenues, tourism, and jobs, is a bad idea.
When it comes to financial understanding, am I going to listen to some city councilman, who’s been in politics his whole life, or am I going to listen to a multi-billionaire who built his own business and turned it into a hugely profitable industry? Right.
And for people who think that the Olympic Games in NYC is a bad idea because of the crowding, and so on? Guess what? The Olympic Games are two weeks long. The construction is 7 years of jobs and construction before, and huge improvements in infrastructure and condition of facilities, police, fire, emergency, and so on that last forever. Look at what happened to Atlanta after the Games. They renovated huge areas of Atlanta, and now the city is growing in a huge way. New rapidrail system, infrastructural improvements, new parks, sporting arenas…and Atlanta is now up and coming.
New York is the right choice. If the morons would just get out of the way of its rejuvenation.