Sharpton, Beamon, Edwards rally for stadium

Updated: March 30, 2005, 7:38 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The Rev. Al Sharpton and Olympic long jump recordholder Bob Beamon joined thousands of union members at a rally to support a West Side football stadium on Wednesday, the eve of a crucial vote on the plan.

"This is not about fun at the stadium; this is about jobs at the work site," said Sharpton, a new member of the pro-stadium forces led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Jets, who hope to play at the new facility starting in 2009. The stadium would also host the 2012 Olympics if New York were chosen for the games.

The $1.7 billion stadium would be built on a platform over rail yards owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The MTA was scheduled to vote Thursday on the Jets' plan and two competing proposals, including one from Cablevision, owners of Madison Square Garden.

Beamon, who set the Olympic long jump record of 29 feet, 2.5 inches in 1968, said he'd like to see someone try to break the record "right here in Manhattan."

"I tell you, this is the place," he said. "The Apple is the place to have the Olympic Games."

Jets head coach Herman Edwards also addressed the rally.

"Your passion is important," Edwards said. "It's very, very important, because passion and belief gets things done."

Under the Jets' proposal, the team would provide up to $720 million, with $440 million coming from six developers who would buy excess development rights on the site. Their offer would depend on zoning changes. The state and city would pay $600 million for a platform over the rail yards and a retractable roof.

Cablevision Systems Corp.'s offer of $760 million includes $400 million in cash up front and the rest in a promise to construct a platform over the rail yards.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press