Weiner: Manhattan stadium 'staggeringly expensive'

Updated: April 18, 2004, 11:16 PM ET
Associated Press

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."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press