NFL refuses to hold draft at Garden

2/11/2005 - New York Jets

NEW YORK -- One week after their 11th hour bid on the
property targeted for a new football stadium, Madison Square Garden
officials on Friday answered questions about their $600 million
proposal and asked for an expedited review of their bid.

In a letter sent to the property's owner, the Metropolitan
Transportation Authority, the MSG group addressed 46 queries posed
by MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow about price, payment and other
questions related to the bid.

The Garden group, firing the latest salvo in its bitter fight
with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and stadium proponents, stressed that
it was eager to move ahead with its offer and asked the MTA to
speed up its review process.

"MSG and its affiliates propose to pay $600 million out of cash
on hand and available borrowing capacity ... to move forward with
the transaction without delay," said a letter from MSG Vice
Chairman Hank Ratner.

The Garden, owner of the New York Knicks, is battling with
Bloomberg and the New York Jets for control of the site above the
Hudson Yards, where the proposed stadium would house the NFL team
and possibly the 2012 Olympics.

The NFL, citing MSG's attempts to block the stadium, even pulled its annual draft from Madison Square Garden

"Is the dispute over the Jets stadium an issue or a factor? Our comment is, 'Yes, it's a factor,' " Greg Aiello, an NFL spokesman told the New York Times on Thursday. "The contract we have with the Garden is up. We have not finalized any contract for the 2005 draft, so we are continuing to explore different venues. We expect to have it resolved in the next couple of weeks."

Supporters of the stadium deal were quick to rip the Garden's
continuing efforts, headed by the Dolan family, owners of
Cablevision and the arena. MSG has proposed a "dynamic mixed-use
community centered on residential development" as opposed to the
NFL stadium.

"If putting together lousy business deals and losing teams was
an Olympic sport, Cablevision would surely take the gold," said
Edward J. Malloy, president of the Building and Construction Trades
Council. "Nobody experienced with big projects in our industry
takes this amateurish proposal seriously."

Jets spokesman Matthew Higgins dismissed the Garden's offer,
saying "we think it's time to move on with the [stadium]
project." The mayor's office didn't immediately respond to the

MTA spokesman Tom Kelly confirmed that the MSG letter
arrived at their offices.

"We received a 12-page document from Madison Square Garden
shortly after 4 p.m. today, and we are reviewing it," MTA
spokesman Tom Kelly said.

The value of the property has become an enormous sticking point
in negotiations between the MTA and the Jets, which hope to become
the stadium's prime tenant at the start of the 2009 season.

The MTA's appraisal set the site value at $923 million for 6.8
million square feet of development rights. Since the proposed
stadium would occupy only 2 million square feet, the appraisers
subtracted about $600 million, for an end value of $330 million,
the MTA says.

The Jets appraiser came up with a price tag for the property of
$36.9 million -- the presumed worth of the site minus the $316
million cost of building a platform over the rail yards.
Politicians immediately questioned why the Jets would receive
credit for building the platform, considering that the city and
state agreed to pay $600 million for it and a retractable roof for
the stadium.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.