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Jets win rights to develop Sports/Convention Center.

"No contest"--said the MTA when it unanimously approved the Jets bid this week to build the much maligned New York Sports and Convention Center over the western rail yards in Manhattan.

The 13-member MTA board evaluated and compared the Jets bid of $720 million to Cablevision's offer of $760 million and TransGas Energy's $1 billion bid.

"A careful look at the proposals shows that only the Jets' proposal offers a substantive basis for clarifying open issues and completing a transaction within a reasonable period of time. Cablevision's bid, on the other hand, leaves open a range of significant issues and is therefore unlikely to result in real value to the MTA," said New York City's representatives on the MTA board. "The Jets' completion of the New York Sports and Convention Center by 2009 will serve as a catalyst to development on the adjacent, just rezoned, MTA-owned Eastern Rail Yards across 11th Avenue. The value of this to the MTA cannot be overstated."

Even with the MTA blessings, the game isn't over yet. The football team still needs to win the approval of two state boards and faces a lawsuit from environmentalists, as well as a possible suit from Cablevision.

"This morning, the MTA paved the way for our future," said Jay Cross, president of the New York Jets. "New York City has affirmed its place as the capital of the world when instead of turning back the clock, we turned the corner to build the greatest sports and convention center ever conceived."

According to the MTA board, the Jets' bid was superior in a number of respects. It will provide the MTA with greater value from the development of the eastern rail yards; it will ensure the construction of the #7 subway extension; it will provide greater certainty to the MTA; it will offer a better fit with MTA/LIRR operations and a better fit with City/State goal of a world-class convention corridor; it will include opportunities for a diverse range of communities and it will generate greater fiscal benefits to city/state/MTA.

"I think it's a terrific victory for the city of New York," said Steve Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, who was instrumental in helping the Jets receive the backing of the six developers who will provide $440 million for the project's residential component. "I think it will keep the hope of the 2012 Olympics alive. We can now expand the convention center, bring the Jets Home and fill a big hole in the ground."

Before the decision, Cablevision made an attempt to stop the Jets with a letter to the MTA requesting the Jets bid be thrown out on the grounds that its latest revision would require rezoning.

The MTA guidelines said that all bids to be considered would have to adhere to the current zoning.

"It is obvious that the Bloomberg fix was in," said a Cablevision spokesperson. "It's no wonder that the MTA is in financial crisis when its own board declares that $210 million is worth more than $400 million in cash. Today's decision will only serve to galvanize the two-thirds of New Yorkers who are bitterly opposed to spending more than $1 billion in taxpayer money for football stadium that they do not want."

The state and city have already agreed to pay $600 million for a platform over the rail yards and a retractable roof.

"It is our hope that the Empire State Development Corporation will vote on the General Project Plan in the near future, and once approved, it will be submitted to the Public Authorities Control Board for their approval," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "New Yorkers will be the big winners if this project becomes reality."

The Jets' 1,000-page bid details how the NYSCC will generate nearly $1 billion in new tax revenue to the city, state and MTA while creating 18,000 construction jobs and 7,000 permanent jobs for hardworking New Yorkers. Thousands of labor union workers rallied in support of the Jets stadium this week.

"Today is a vote of confidence and another step in the process of building the New York Sports and Convention Center," said Lou Coletti, president of the Building Trade Employers' Association. "We believe the MTA picked the only proposal with real substance."

Coletti said it's critical that construction on the $1.7 billion stadium begin this summer.

"Anyone who says there was no rush for this decision is wrong," he said. "The Olympic Committee made it clear this is critical part of the process to win the Olympics."

But stadium detractors were also long on comment this week and declared they would continue to oppose the project.

"We need housing and schools and libraries on the West Side, rather than $1 billion of public subsidies for a stadium," said Joe Restuccia, from the Hell's Kitchen/Hudson Yards Alliance. "The MTA has decided to join the Mayor and Governor in ignoring the needs of city residents and they must be held accountable. We vow to redouble our efforts to make sure that this flawed plan does not move forward."

State legislators, as well as City Council members, say the public did not have adequate time to evaluate or comment on the bids.

"It is outrageous that the MTA plans to make this important decision just two days after releasing the bids to the public," said State Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried. "This does not allow the public any reasonable opportunity to learn about these complicated proposals and make their opinions known to the MTA. Rushing to judgment shows contempt for the riding public by shutting them out of their rightful role as informed participants in this process."
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Author:Nelson, Barbara
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Apr 6, 2005
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