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$750 million stadium could debut in 2008

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants reached an
agreement Wednesday with the state of New Jersey that will allow
the NFL team to build a new $750 million stadium in the
Meadowlands.

A news conference was scheduled for 11 a.m. EDT Thursday to
announce details.

A source close to the negotiations told The Associated Press
that the deal was for 40 years, but included several options that
could extend it to 98 years. It also called for the Giants to
receive 75 acres of Meadowlands property -- the current stadium site
is 28 acres -- and gives the team all money earned through the sale
of naming rights.

The announcement by the governor's office followed several
recent conversations between acting Gov. Richard J. Codey and John
Mara, the Giants' chief operating officer. Just a month ago, the
deal seemed dead.

Earlier Wednesday, Mara said if a deal could be struck quickly
there was a slight chance the new stadium could be ready for the
2008 season.

"This is a good deal for New Jersey taxpayers," Codey said.
"We're going to get a brand-new stadium with one of the best deals
in the country."

The Giants have long offered to pay the entire cost of the
stadium, which is rare in the NFL. But months of negotiations
stalled last month due to Giants concerns regarding game day
traffic from Xanadu, a $1.3 billion shopping and entertainment
complex being built at the Meadowlands. The team also could not get
the state to protect it from some future taxes.

Codey had pushed for a deal over the objections of George
Zoffinger, chief executive of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition
Authority. Zoffinger said Tuesday he will abide by Codey's wishes
and "bring any deal the governor reaches to the board of the
sports authority for a vote."

Zoffinger said he still had concerns that the $6.3 million in
annual payments the Giants are expected to make to the state would
not cover the annual debt on the current stadium, putting the
burden on taxpayers.

Giants Stadium, owned by the state, opened in 1976, making it
among the oldest in the NFL.

On April 5, the Giants filed a lawsuit to force New Jersey to
make renovations to Giants Stadium and block Xanadu. The Giants
said their lease gives them the right to sign off on all
construction at the Meadowlands. A hearing is scheduled April 29.