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Jets hit back after RPA disses stadium plans.

Amid controversy regarding plans for the New York Sports and Convention Center (NYSCC), the Jets sponsored a panel of urban stadium designers to meet with the press and community on July 20 and dispel--via the example of successful urban stadiums such as the new Cardinals stadium in Glendale, Arizona and the Miami Airlines Arena in downtown Miami--prominent objections associated primarily with the construction of Jets stadium over the Hudson Rail Yards.

The presentation was the second in a three part series held at the Center for Architecture and included the architects for the aforementioned stadiums, Peter Eisenman and Bernardo Fort-Bresica as well as William Pedersen of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, the leading architect of the proposed Jets project on the West Side.

The panel met just a day after the Regional Plan Association (RPA), a not-for-profit think-tank whose goal is to promote quality of life in New York, issued an alternative strategy for the area. The RPA report was hailed by the Hell's Kitchen/ Hudson Yards Alliance, a community coalition of elected officials and community leaders from the West Side.

"We don't think the Jets' plan is the best way to promote the vision for the future of the West Side," said Jeremy Soffin, spokesman for RPA. "There's not a lot of space to expand in the central business district, this in one of the final areas for growth and it should be harnessed for that."

"We want to see a mixed use district there that can serve the capacity of growth that midtown needs. It should largely be a business district."

At Tuesday's presentation, Bernardo Fort-Bresica seemed to offer a counterweight to the RPA's argument, citing how the Airlines Arena spurred both commercial and residential development in Miami's downtown.

"It became the bridge between the downtown and the waterfront," he said. "When we first started building, the surrounding neighborhood was rundown, it wasn't a good neighborhood, it was a place that people didn't want to go. That all changed when we built the arena, it helped revitalize the area in terms of both commercial and residential development."

Similar to Cardinals Stadium in terms of the versatility of its seating arrangements and dynamic floor design--which can be configured to accommodate different types of events--the planned Jets stadium also mimics Cardinal Stadium designer Peter Eisenman's principles of aesthetics.

While the Cardinals Stadium's unique bulbous exterior borrows from the barrel cactus, a fixture of the surrounding desert landscape, the naked steel lattices and skeletal framework of the NYSCC bears a purposeful resemblance to a prominent fixture on the West Side waterfront: the George Washington Bridge.

"The George Washington Bridge is one of the most beautiful structures in all of Manhattan and was something that we wanted to emulate in our design," William Pedersen said.

But although the project might blend visually with the surrounding space, Jeremy Soffin forecasted that the difficulty of getting tickets to football games will potentially exclude the surrounding community from enjoying the new development and consequently prevent the stadium from truly integrating with the neighborhood.

"It's not like just anyone is going to be able to get in," he said. "It's going to be a closed club. There's a reason why these things are traditionally built in the middle of nowhere."

The Jets plans to berm over the West Side Highway will only improve access to the waterfront and the proposed creation of shoreline parkland will make the NYSCC a desirable destination according to Jets spokesperson Marissa Shorenstein, factors that again counter the RPA's objections.

"The point is to embrace the surrounding area and give the neighborhood a place to go and increase the public acreage," she said.

The Miami Heat's recent acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal has changed how Bernardo Fort-Bresica thinks about architecture's relationship to public attendance.

"Shaq came in and tickets for practically the entire season sold out within a week," Fort-Bresica playfully quipped. "It shows that celebrity is the biggest factor in getting people to attend the facility, not architecture or design!"
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Title Annotation:New York Jets plans for new stadium; Regional Plan Association
Author:Geiger, Daniel
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Jul 28, 2004
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