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Jets' sports and convention center not fit for Queens.

Why not more the proposed new Jets Stadium from the west side of Manhattan to Queens? Proponents argue it would reduce costs, traffic, opposition and even transform unsightly junk yards in the process.

Unfortunately, this "solution" fails to address pivotal realities. The prime one is that the stadium doesn't travel solo. Rather, the stadium is part of the New York Sports and Convention Center (NYSCC), a critical link in the expanded west side convention center corridor.

The NYSCC, supported by the leading convention show producers, would provide 200,000 square feet of needed meeting space, adjacent to the existing Javits center. And the covered stadium itself can be transformed into the city's only indoor room big enough for plenary sessions of major conventions and sports spectaculars such as the super bowl.

It is no more rational to pluck the stadium out of the complex and move it to Queens than it would be to build a stadium in Queens with the 30-yard line in Manhattan. The stadium and its convention component are conceptually indivisible.

What about costs? Analyses by the City's planning and economic development agencies conclude that preparing the Queens site--including business condemnation, job relocation, infrastructure needs and environmental remediation--would cost nearly as much as building the platform over the west side rail yards. Then someone would have to find the money to build the stadium, since the Jets extraordinary $800 million contribution would not be available.

The City and State would provide $300 million each for the platform and for the retractable roof needed to attract convention and related activities. The cost to government for the $600 million (debt service on bonds)--approximately $40 million annually. Added tax revenues generated by new conventions and events--approximately $75 million annually. Bottom line: the facility packs substantial economic wallop, adds revenue for schools and cops, and provides needed new jobs.

What about traffic? New Jersey fans could leave their cars and come to the west side by ferry landing just blocks from the complex. Most of those same fans bound for Queens would head for the bridge and tunnels--competing with Sunday matinee theater-goers and adding to traffic congestion at existing choke points. We also know from a recent survey of Jets season ticket holders that 70 per cent said they would use mass transit (LIRR, NJ Transit, Metro North, subway, ferries, PATH and bus)--to the west side location, even without the planned extension of the 7 line.

As for reducing opposition--does anyone believe the owners, and employees, of the auto repair facilities, parts shops and junkyards would embrace the proposal. Indeed, they have successfully fought such takeovers dating back to the 1964 World's Fair.

And what about the environmental impact? What is known about the Queens site is its long-term auto related use. What is not known is the level of contamination from toxic spills and the true cost of remediation. The proposed NYSCC has already received the 2004 "Urban Communities and Sustainability Award" at MIPIM, the international real estate convention in Cannes, France. Architect Bill Pedersen, of Kohn Pedersen Fox, says the building "was inspired by the great artifacts of the Hudson River ... and the desire to make it one of the world's most sustainable structures."

Certainly, Queens has a multiplicity of great assets. But this new stadium belongs on Manhattan's west side.

LOUIS J. COLETTI

President and CEO

New York Building Trades Employers' Association
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Title Annotation:Inside Construction; New York Sports and Convention Center
Author:Coletti, Louis J.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Aug 18, 2004
Words:566
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