2005-01-20 / Top Stories

Local Pols Declare Support For Controversial City Sports Center

Artist’s rendering of the proposed New York Sports and Convention Center looking from the Hudson River. Below is a bird’s eye view.Artist’s rendering of the proposed New York Sports and Convention Center looking from the Hudson River. Below is a bird’s eye view. By Neil S. Friedman

A group of elected Brooklyn officials, including several who represent Canarsie, last week announced their support of the proposed New York Sports and Convention Center on Manhattan’s far West Side that will contain a football stadium with a retractable roof. The project will be constructed on a platform above MTA rail yards between West 30th and 34th streets near the Hudson River.

State Senator John Sampson, Assemblyman Frank Seddio, and New York City Councilmembers Lew Fidler and Kendall Stewart are among the most recent additions to a list of scores of elected officials and others who support the controversial plan.

“The potential to create thousands of jobs and millions in new economic revenue for New York City to pay for vital government services such as more teachers, police officers and fire fighters is truly significant,” said Seddio.

“The construction of the NYSCC will create opportunities for the men and women of this city who are too often left behind,” said Sampson. “The New York Jets are committed to creating a program, which will serve as a model for future projects of this magnitude.”

“We will finally have the opportunity to compete with other cities across the nation for conventions and super events that will generate significant revenue for New York and New Yorkers,” added Fidler, who heads the Council’s Brooklyn delegation. “And, the New York Jets will finally have a New York home to call their own.”

“We have an opportunity to move this city forward — we must seize it or we will forever look back and regret our inaction,” added Stewart.

These legislators join a bipartisan coalition of more than 60 public officials across the city who support the project that guarantees it will create thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue money. Other Brooklyn Democrats who previously voiced support for the project include Assemblyman Darryl Towns, Assemblyman Nick Perry, Senator Kevin Parker and Marty Golden, the borough’s lone Republican state senator.

Mayor Bloomberg is an advocate of the center, asserting it will help New York City win its bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics, but his potential De-mocrat opponents in this year’s mayoral race — Brooklyn/Queens Congressman Anthony D. Weiner, Brooklyn City Councilman Charles Barron, City Council speaker Gifford Miller, former Bronx borough president Fernando Ferrer and Manhattan borough president, C. Virginia Fields – have all announced their opposition to the plan.

Several weeks ago, Cablevision, which owns and operates nearby Madison Square Garden and has been leading the opposition to the West Side project, urged the City Council to pass a law prohibiting the Bloomberg administration from subsidizing the stadium with revenues it receives from a special tax. The proposed law would require the Council’s approval.

In addition, an increasing number of business and civic groups are also voicing their support for the NYSCC. Representatives of leading New York City organizations that now support the project in-clude Ken Adams, President of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. Numerous unions, whose members could benefit with thousands of temporary and permanent jobs, are devoting time and energy to make the NYSCC a reality.

Opponents of the plan, including nearby residents and environmentalists, say though the New York Jets, who will occupy the stadium for only eight home and a few pre-season games, have pledged $800 million dollars for the project, the remainder of the estimated $1.4 billion dollar cost with state and city tax revenues adding $300 million each for the retractable roof and platform. However, the Jets have promised to cover any overruns that projects like these typically incur.

The NYSCC has earned endorsements from such publications as the Daily News, the New York Post, Crain’s and the Amsterdam News.

There is no deadline for the project to be approved, but it could begin this summer if the legislative process is completed next month after the state’s Empire Development Corporation, controlled by Governor Pataki, votes on the general plan by the end of January and subsequently green lighted by the Public Authorities Control Board, of which Democrat Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is a board member. Once construction commences, it should take about four years with the earliest possible completion in the fall of 2009. Any delay in votes and approvals would delay the project.

Developers for the NYSCC claim that in addition to jobs, the far West Side complex will generate tens of millions of dollars in new revenue to help pay for more teachers, cops and firefighters; create new public spaces and waterfront access, and provide New York with a world class venue for events such as the Super Bowl, the Final Four and, hopefully, the 2012 Olympic Games.

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