Volume 73, Number 48 | March 31 - April 6, 2004

EDITORIAl


It’s time to punt on stadium plan

The mayor and governor headlined a pull-out-all-the-stops media event last week at the Javits Convention Center, announcing plans for a new West Side stadium that would be home to the football Jets and possibly the 2012 Olympics, should New York City win the bid for the Games.

This plan has been brewing in slightly different forms since the administration of Mayor Bloomberg’s predecessor, Rudy Giuliani. When Giuliani first pitched it several years ago, it was also conceived of as a future home of the baseball Yankees.

As it was then, so it is now that activists in Chelsea and Clinton and the local politicians representing the neighborhood and adjoining areas are protesting the plan with a vengeance.

Expanding the convention center is also part of the plan. It’s arguable that the city needs more convention space, since we’ve fallen behind other cities in this regard.

However, the major concern is the traffic impact from the stadium. Clearly, it seems lost on both Giuliani and Bloomberg that Manhattan is a narrow island and that, were the stadium built, the West Side Highway and streets all up and down the West Side would be gridlocked. That means more pollution and noise and less quality of life for local residents, and disruption and delay for other users of the West Side Highway.

Traffic would necessarily increase because of the poor transportation to the site. Yes, the plans include an extension of the # 7 train line across 34th St. and down 11th Ave. Yet, Madison Sq. Garden, where several subways converge, as well as the Long Island Rail Road, is a far superior transportation hub. The stadium would draw events and business away from the Garden, causing more driving into the city.

In addition, there is the convincing argument that stadiums cost taxpayers money and are poor economic engines for cities. While stadiums may generate some economic activity around them — plenty of new bars for example — they are not a financial boon for a municipality.

Certainly, a stadium would be a glitzy trophy for the mayor, governor and Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, formerly head of NYC 2012, the group angling to bring the Olympics here. But it’s a trophy the West Side of Manhattan can well do without.

Furthermore, there’s concern that the focus on the so-called Hudson Yards redevelopment plan will necessarily conflict and detract from the critical rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. The Hudson Yards plan would include new office towers along 11th Ave. Yet, new office space would be coming on line at the W.T.C. at roughly the same time. The commercial/office towers component is being used as a selling point for the redevelopment plan — but, simply, is there a need for so much office space with the massive project in Lower Manhattan also in the works?

The stadium and redevelopment plan are simply too ambitious and too overwhelming for the proposed site.

Put the stadium in another borough. The hardhats will still get plenty of jobs, and the community where the stadium is located will see some economic benefit.

Consider expanding the Javits Center.

But give up this mega-plan that is not in the community’s or the whole West Side’s best interests.

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