From The Mayor's Desk ...
Thanksgiving is a time for all of us to think about how lucky we are to have our health, our friends, and our family. We are also lucky to live in the world's greatest city and the safest big city in America. Our schools are im-proving, our unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level in more than 30 years and our neighborhoods are stronger than ever. And this year, New York baseball fans have something extra special to be thankful for: Both the Mets and Yankees have be-gun building new stadiums.
We officially broke ground on a brand new, spectacular ballpark for the Amazin' Mets last week. For 44 years, this has been a franchise that's fully embraced its hometown. That's true whether it's the skyline emblazoned on their logo or their long tradition of contributing to the community. And now, by teaming up with Citigroup -- another one of New York's greatest institutions and the largest employer in Queens - they are giving us a 21st Century "Field of Dreams."
The newly-named Citi Field looks like a winner from any seat in the house. For starters, it will pay tribute to the game's past - with a design that echoes the intimate feel of the old Ebbets Field and a statue of New York sports great and civil rights hero, Jackie Robinson. The stadium also will embrace the future - by combining all the comfort and amenities of today's modern ballparks to give players and fans the ultimate sports experience.
Best of all, the new ballpark, which is scheduled to open in 2009, will be completely privately funded. The Mets will also be responsible for meeting the costs of maintenance - something which the City, as the owner of the existing stadium, currently covers. That's going to relieve us from spending hundreds of millions of dollars over the coming years on the stadium's up-keep.
The city and the state will be contributing about $166 million towards the project's infrastructure, but this is an investment, which will benefit Queens for decades to come. That's because the new stadium is part of our drive to bring jobs to neighboring Flushing and Willets Point.In Flush-ing, we've helped spur a $500 million project that soon will revitalize the heart of downtown. And in Willets Point, we're moving full steam ahead to turn a rusting industrial area full of auto body shops into a community jewel - full of parks, housing, and shops. All of this will mean new jobs and opportunity for thousands of New Yorkers and it will give another big boost to an economy that's already booming.
The future of Flushing and Willets point has never been brighter. And the same could be said for the Mets. They were such an exciting team to watch last season, and they've laid the foundation to continue thrilling New Yorkers for many years to come. And I hope that in the not too distant future, Willie Randolph and the guys will be celebrating the first of many World Championships in their new home.