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Weiner: Manhattan stadium 'staggeringly expensive'

4/18/2004 - New York Jets

NEW YORK -- A new stadium for the New York Jets could be
built in Queens for a fraction of the $1.4 billion that Jets
officials say it will cost to build one on Manhattan's West Side,
Rep. Anthony Weiner said Sunday.

"It is a better site for football and better for all of New
York City," said Weiner, a Democrat whose district includes parts
of Brooklyn and Queens.

Weiner released a study that showed that even the $600 million
proposed contribution from the city and state for a Manhattan
stadium exceeds the total cost of all but one of the last 24 NFL
stadiums that have been built.

The reconfigured Soldier Field in Chicago, which opened last
year, cost $606 million. The average cost of the last five NFL
stadiums built was about $445 million, Weiner said.

The Jets have proposed spending $800 million in private funds
for a new stadium on the far West Side of Manhattan, with New York
City and state spending $300 million each for a retractable roof
and a platform over existing rail yards.

In addition to serving as a home for the Jets when their lease
at New Jersey's Meadowlands expires, the stadium would include
convention facilities and would anchor the city's bid to host the
2012 Summer Olympics.

Weiner called the proposal "staggeringly expensive" and
suggested Willets Point in Queens as an alternative.

He said the estimated cost of a Willets Point stadium for the
Jets and the New York Mets that was proposed in the 1980s was $286
million, or about $445 million in 2004.

But Jets owner Robert Wood Johnson has rejected the Queens
location, and the Jets have argued that the West Side stadium would
be a good deal for the city and state because of the jobs and tax
revenues it would generate.

Matthew Higgins, vice president of strategic planning for the
Jets, disputed Weiner's assertion that it would be cheaper to build
the stadium in Queens.

"The cost of the stadium itself remains the same regardless of
location -- approximately $800 million, which the Jets are funding
entirely," Higgins said. "But on Manhattan's far West Side,
unlike any other location, the sports and convention center will
reap millions of dollars a year in new tax revenue above and beyond
the public investment."