June 07, 2005
NYC Olympic bid appears dead

Well, a proposed stadium deal in New York has been killed by the State Assembly, meaning the City's bid for the 2012 Olympics are very likely dead.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno instructed their representatives on the three-member Public Authorities Control Board to abstain on a vote to contribute $300 million in state funds for the stadium. Since the proposal required unanimous approval, it was defeated.


Silver, who represents lower Manhattan, said he could not support the $2 billion stadium, to be built as an extension of the Javits Convention Center in midtown Manhattan, when the city and state have not completed plans to renovate the World Trade Center site in his district.

"Am I supposed to sell out the community I have fought for ... ?" Silver said. "Am I supposed to turn my back on lower Manhattan as it struggles for recovery? For what? The stadium? For the hope of bringing the Olympics to New York City?"


Brian Hatch, the former deputy mayor of Salt Lake City who tracks the New York bid at www.newyorkgames.org, said the stadium vote "was the right result for the right reason."

"When I started (the Web site) two years ago, I said the bid was going to create a new central business district and cripple the one that hadn't recovered (from 9/11)," Hatch said. "This is a clear victory for the city's interests."

Hatch supports New York hosting the Olympics but said the West Side stadium plan "was driving down our chances. Now maybe we'll recover and hope for 2016."

I don't really have a dog in this fight, but I find the logic expressed by Hatch and Assemblyman Silver to be persuasive. Even more so is this Forbes article, which Ginger kindly sent to me, which makes the case that public money should not be used to develop one of the last sizeable patches of unused land in Manhattan, home of the highest real estate prices anywhere in the US of A.

The covered stadium was to have been built on a 30-acre site atop a rail yard owned by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. But if the land could be freed for other purposes, the question was why the stadium was the best use. Cablevision Systems, owner of Madison Square Garden, which stood to lose some business to the new building, had proposed late in the process, a plan to build housing and offices on the site. But for most of the time when the use of the rail yards was being discussed, the assumption was there would be a stadium or nothing. Many argued the stadium, which would have been the most costly to build in the U.S. by far, was worse than nothing as it would tie up one of the last two large tracts of land in southern Manhattan.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had sold the stadium proposal as an economic development plan because it would double as a convention center and supposedly draw new construction in its wake. Yesterday, he lashed out against the stadium's critics: "Those that were on the other side will have to explain why they were against jobs, why they were against economic opportunity and growth," he said at a press conference.

What's never explained is why New York needs the city to build on the site. In recent years, developers have grabbed every available site to build. If the rail yards were made available for other uses, developers would build there, too. Not a stadium, but someone would build something. Time Warner has built a huge mixed-use building near Central Park. Mayor Bloomberg's own company has completed a new headquarters, also a mixed-use building on the east side of Manhattan, which is intended to accommodate a Home Depot store. Every conceivable inch of Times Square is being built, with The Walt Disney Company, Conde Nast, Morgan Stanley and a host of law and accounting firms all taking space.

I can't argue with that. Any New Yorkers want to comment on this?

As is usually the case, the Chron article notes a possible Houston angle in this development:

NFL owners awarded the 2010 Super Bowl to New York, contingent on the stadium's construction. League officials did not return calls for comment on whether the game could be offered to other bidders, including Houston, which fell short in its bid for the 2009 game.

I can see two possibilities here. One is to throw open the bidding process for Super Bowl 44, as they just went through for SB43. Houston would presumably be a contender for that as they were before. Alternately, they could award SB44 to Arlington, in honor of the soon-to-be-built Eminent Domain Stadium. That assumes it's ready by then - they were originally in line for 2011, not 2010. Either way, one thing is for certain: regardless of the Olympics, no new stadium in NYC means no Super Bowl there.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 07, 2005 to Other sports | TrackBack

As much as I disagree with the idea of a stadium on the west side of Manhattan, there is another angle that you may not have been aware of. Cablevision, who are the owners of Madison Square Garden, and have managed to run the arena, Knicks, and Rangers into the ground over the past several years, were the main opponents of the stadium. They hired Silver's former aide, Pat Lynch, to lobby against the stadium (more information in the New York Daily News website). Cablevision argued that the stadium would hurt Madison Square Garden's business. Meanwhile, Bruce Ratner, the owner of the New Jersey Nets, is planning on building an arena in Brooklyn that will be far superior to the Garden (which, sadly, has been an overpriced dump.)

It really doesn't matter to me if NYC gets the Super Bowl or the Olympics. I just don't want to have to listen to two sets of billionaires argue back and forth over it. Rooting for either Cablevision or Mayor McCheese is simply a case of hoping both sides lose.

Of course, there's plenty of land in the Flushing Meadows / Willets Point area of Queens (the area by Shea Stadium and the US Tennis Center for those of you unfamiliar with NYC) that can be used to build a stadium, but Mayor McCheese and the Jets don't want to save the money and build there.

The really sad thing here is that as bad as Mayor McCheese is, the Democratic candidates for election this year are even worse. They can't even use this situation to their advantage, since it occurred too early in the campaign.

Posted by: William Hughes on June 7, 2005 2:00 PM

One more Houston angle. As you recall Houston was in the running for the USOC bid for the Olympics and lost to New York. At the time I seem to recall that the USOC practice was to continue to submit the same city until it was selected to host - i.e. since New York was picked as our 2012 nominee, New York would remain the nominee for subsequent bids.

So if they aren't going to build the stadium that was a key selling point for their bid, might the USOC process be reopened? I suspect you will hear rumblings on that in the coming months as Houston and Washington will want back in the game.

Posted by: Patrick on June 7, 2005 2:32 PM

Yeah, Cablevision has its ulterior motives, as do Silver and Bruno, but stopped clocks are right twice a day. See my Snoopy dance! Next up, stopping the Nets!

Posted by: Chris Quinones on June 7, 2005 11:04 PM

Actually, the stadium isn't exactly dead - it just isn't going to get money from the State of New York. It could still be built with private money - which there is certainly plenty of on all sides.

From my perspective, I like the decision. WHy should sports be subsidized by the taxpayers who can't even afford to go to the games?


Posted by: Xpatriated Texan on June 9, 2005 7:11 PM

I'm trying to figure out how the Olympians will be allowed to bring thier shotguns and .22 target rifles into NYC for thier competitions....

Posted by: Rorschach on June 13, 2005 1:43 PM