State of the City address this month, Mayor Rudy Giuliani proposed the construction of a
sports mecca on the West Side of Manhattan which would include an extension of the Javits
Center, a domed football stadium and a new Madison Square Garden.
To many onlooking
officials and community members, the plan seemed to come straight out of left field, and
lack both economic and practical feasibility some have estimated that the price tag
for the project would approach $5 billion.
Others, namely City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, took the announcement as good news.
The Speaker sees this as a victory because it means that the mayor wants to keep the
Yankees in the Bronx, said a spokesman for Vallone.
But another theory being put forward to explain the sheer grandiosity of the plan is
that with only two years left in his term, and as he looks to higher office, the mayor
wants to leave a permanent mark on the city. The bulk of the mayors policy thus far
has been one of subtraction. He has removed the squeegee men, removed the strip clubs, and
removed graffiti. What he has been unable to do is build something.
The mayor suffers from what Freud would call an Edifice Complex he longs to
construct a towering monument in his own image.
Giuliani has debunked the notion that New York is unmanageable, but he has failed to
debunk the notion that it is impossible to build in New York.
Most New Yorkers and officials are for Rudys desire to build, that is, as long as
he doesnt name the stadium after himself. But what many find troubling is that
Giuliani has opted to build this exciting new attraction in a borough that has never been
short on exciting attractions.
So why not build the stadium and the complex in the outer boroughs?
Rudy has never had an affinity for the outer boroughs, said one political
analyst. If you consider the proposed Yankee Stadium plan, the tax breaks given to
businesses in Manhattan, this is obvious. Meanwhile, projects like the Second Avenue
subway, which would serve the people of both Manhattan and Queens, are put on the back
Flushing Meadows Sports Complex
But as the New York Mets prepare to build a state of the art retractable domed stadium
in the style of Ebbets Field, the United States Tennis Association completes the additions
to its new Flushing Meadows facility, and Borough President Claire Shulman carried out a
$12.8 million project to develop the Flushing waterfront, several local officials are
calling on the mayor to build the football stadium in Queens.
Unfortunately, we have a Manhattan mentality when it comes to public policy
endeavors, said Queens Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin. But with the Shea Stadium
plan about to move forward, we have an opportunity to not only bring a football franchise
back to Queens, but to develop Flushing Meadows into a major attraction.
Currently, McLaughlin said, when fans come to the US Open or games at Shea Stadium,
they find that aside from the sporting events there is not much to speak of in the
surrounding area. As a result, the stadiums as they now exist are not directly benefiting
the surrounding communities. McLaughlin envisions a Flushing Meadows sports complex and
waterfront that would tie stadiums, restaurants, stores and hotels to downtown Flushing.
With a little vision, said McLaughlin, we can do for Queens what
Camden Yards did for downtown Baltimore.
And McLaughlin is not alone.
While the mayors plan has more merit than his previous proposal to move the
Yankees, if given the choice, I would obviously prefer the new stadium to be in
Queens, said Councilman Walter McCaffrey.
As a legislator, and more importantly as a season ticket holder, I can think of
nothing greater than the Jets coming back to Queens, said Assemblyman Mark Weprin.
However, there are several hurdles to be overcome. For one, local officials are against
taking park land away from the public.
We have enough here already, said Estelle Cooper, Assistant Parks
Commissioner. Cooper added that she would not be against a Flushing sports complex
as long as the additional land was not part of the existing park.
Another issue is whether or not there is a team to move into the new facility. The Jets
lease with the Meadowlands runs until 2008, and they have yet to comment on where they
would like to go next. But it is the conventional wisdom of developers that if you build
it, they will come. A third problem, according to Councilman John Sabini, is that the
terms of the USTAs lease with the city, which was negotiated under the Dinkins
administration, might prevent an additional facility from holding events next door.
Theres a clause in the lease which effectively allows them to dictate what can go on
in that part of the park.
Regardless of what happens in the end, Queens Borough President Claire Shulman has
opted to look at the bright side. We already have the nations premier tennis
stadium, said Shulman spokesman Dan Andrews. And soon we will have a new Shea
Stadium. Were not doing so bad.
In his State of the City address this month,
Mayor Rudy Giuliani proposed the construction of a sports mecca on the West Side of
Manhattan which would include an extension of the Javits Center, a domed football stadium
and a new Madison Square Garden.