MTA to launch lawsuits, approve Jets bid
More like Jets Never
Jets expected to win bid
City officials' battle over bullying
BY JOSHUA ROBIN, GRAHAM RAYMAN AND PRADNYA JOSHI
March 30, 2005, 9:23 PM EST
The Jets are expected Thursday to win MTA approval to build a West Side stadium, according to a key authority board member, but the team still faces steep obstacles before its long-awaited home field rises along the Hudson River.
Legal and political challenges stand before the $1.9 billion stadium -- including lawsuits from Cablevision, environmentalists and neighborhood groups.
Cablevision, which owns Madison Square Garden and proposes a residential community on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority site, struck at the last minute yesterday with a letter asking the MTA to disqualify the Jets based on the claim that the team violated a ban on bids contingent on zoning changes.
In response, an MTA spokesman would only say that the letter would be forwarded to board members.
The demand came as the Jets were perched to capture a major victory today. By the estimates of Pataki-appointed MTA board member Barry Feinstein, all or nearly all of the required 14 MTA votes would be cast for the Jets over Cablevision and a Brooklyn gas company.
In recent days, Feinstein and six other board members have voiced their support for the Jets proposal.
"There's been no indication that there's any support for the Garden's bid," Feinstein said.
But stadium backers must also win over officials who hold the power over zoning and funding requirements. Among them are Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan).
Silver, sphinx-like, has carefully refused to state a position; Miller, a mayoral contender, is opposed to the stadium and has called on the MTA to delay today's vote.
Feinstein, who said he backs the stadium, conceded it could take several years before the first kickoff.
"Your children will enjoy going to the opening game -- he said, adding "I'm assuming you don't have any."
Delaying the project may be legal battles against the larger stadium plan that have already begun. There is pending litigation from the Garden and West Side residents alleging the city omitted and mistated facts in rezoning the area.
The fight for the stadium has just begun. The MTA is likely to be sued over this process by Cablevision, the city is likely to be sued for rigging the process, The residents of Hell's Kitchen are likely to file several suits, the City Conucil is likely to withhold funding and be sued. In short, this will kick off at least five years of litigation. The problem for the Jets is that unless Bloomberg is the next mayor, the city will not support the stadium project.
If I was Freddie Ferrer, I would be jumping up and down for joy if the MTA approved the bid, I would be estatic. Why? Because the stadium is poison to Bloomberg. It hurts him with every ethnic group, across income groups and across the city. It is the single largest reason people will vote for anyone else. The fact that this will drag on and the Olympics is likely to go to Paris, is going to define the election. Why? Because the stadium is not the only Olympics related suit. Several sites planned for Olympic venues will also be subject to litigation as well. The IOC would be quite foolish to choose New York as a solo bid. Without using Northern New Jersey as a joint bid, where many of the facilities already exist, litigation will tie up and even cancel needed facilities.
The stadium still faces bitter opposition regardless of the appeal for jobs. I think Al Sharpton's support will cause him more problems than help the Jets. Because people see that money going away from city services and no one makes a case that won't be true. They can argue it, but no one believes it.
I think the stadium is such a negative for Bloomberg that it will become the main issue which defeats him.
posted by Steve @ 9:29:00 AM