Cablevision is a major opponent of the stadium

Updated: November 9, 2004, 7:11 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg scolded Cablevision on Tuesday, saying the corporate owner of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers and Madison Square Garden should spend money on its stumbling sports teams instead of on ads criticizing him and a proposed West Side stadium for the Jets.

"The Knicks are going to have a struggle," Bloomberg said. "I think the coach is a good coach. He could use a lot more money. They'd be better off spending their money there than (on) these ridiculous ads. As for these ads, they are outrageous lies."

Cablevision Systems Corp., the primary opponent of a $1.4 billion sports complex on the West Side of Manhattan, has produced a series of television ads that have become increasingly disparaging of the mayor.

The advertisements, which air regularly on television and radio, claim that the city's $300 million contribution to the project makes no sense given its potential budget deficits for the next three years. Cablevision also is concerned that a new stadium would compete for entertainment events with Madison Square Garden, located a few blocks away.

The Garden is the home of the Knicks and Rangers, hosts music concerts and was the site of last summer's Republican National Convention.

Bloomberg has countered that a new stadium and an expansion of the adjacent Jacob K. Javits Convention Center would bring the New York Jets back to town from New Jersey, provide badly needed economic activity to an underdeveloped area of the city with minimal effect on the city budget and give the city a shot at hosting the 2012 Olympics.

The Jets, who play in East Rutherford, N.J., and would be the primary tenants of the new stadium, have been airing ads defending the need for a stadium.

The two sides have spent some $11.5 million on lobbying in the last several months, making the dispute one of the most contentious issues of Bloomberg's first term and among the city's most controversial development projects in more than 30 years.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg, who attends Knicks and Rangers games regularly, belittled Cablevision for its ad costs given the amount of tax breaks the company receives from the city.

"Well, I don't know why the stockholders of Cablevision put up with it," Bloomberg said. "Cablevision has probably spent the same amount of money producing ads that the tax break that the taxpayers of this state have given them. If they spent $11 million more on the Knicks, maybe the Knicks would be a better team and that would fill Madison Square Garden."

Madison Square Garden Chairman James Dolan responded: "The mayor is trying to hide a flawed and financially risky plan by taking cheap shots at Madison Square Garden."

The stadium would be built on the three blocks bound by 30th and 33rd streets and 11th and 12th avenues. Besides housing the Jets, it would be designed to host conventions and concerts.

The Jets, whose lease at the Meadowlands expires in 2008, have committed to spending $800 million in private funds on the stadium. The city and state would add $300 million each to build a retractable roof and a deck over rail yards at the site.

The city hopes to begin construction next spring, but the state Legislature and the City Council must approve the plan. Public hearings will be held soon.

The Knicks were swept by the New Jersey Nets in the first round of last season's playoffs. The Rangers, who had the NHL's highest payroll, didn't make the playoffs last season.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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