Assembly leader: 'This plan is at best, premature'
ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York City's bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics appeared in danger Monday when a state board rejected a plan for $300 million in critical public funding for a $2 billion stadium on Manhattan's West Side.
The state Public Authorities Control Board vote came after Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver came out against the plan. Without Silver's support, the state funding cannot move forward.
"This plan is at best, premature," Silver said, indicating he was willing to continue talking about the issue. The state board could reconsider the issue again later.
"If we don't have a stadium, we cannot get the Olympics," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said after Silver's announcement. He had heavily lobbied Silver in recent days for support of the stadium that would also to serve as home for the football New York Jets.
"I had not been able to persuade him," Bloomberg said.
The mayor said he would talk with members of the U.S. Olympic Committee about how to proceed.
Silver said the West Side stadium project and its related commercial development would hamper efforts to redevelop lower Manhattan, which he represents, in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers.
"Am I to sell out the community I have fought for?" Silver said at a state Capitol news conference. The speaker renewed his call for officials to consider putting the stadium in Queens.
The Democrat's decision was announced less than an hour before the scheduled start of the board's meeting at which the funding proposal was to have been presented after three earlier postponements.
Silver, Republican Gov. George Pataki and state Senate Republican Majority Leader Joseph Bruno each have a voting representative on the three-member PACB and its actions must be unanimous.
The PACB meeting, scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., didn't get underway until almost 5:30 p.m., a delay caused, in part, by the presence of more than 100 highly vocal stadium supporters and by continued behind-the-scene talks that dragged on through the afternoon.
In the end, the board brought up the plan, but only Pataki's representative voted for it. Representatives of Silver and Bruno abstained.
While Pataki has been a stadium backer, Bruno and Silver had remained on the fence.
Earlier Monday, Bruno had said he was willing to have the state board approve the stadium funding contingent on the International Olympic Committee approving New York City's bid at its July 6 site selection session in Singapore. He offered that as an amendment at the PACB meeting, but the motion failed to gain a second.
Bruno said even before the PACB's meeting that negotiations might continue beyond Monday.
"Who knows what tomorrow or next week brings," the Senate leader said.
New York City is in competition with Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow for the 2012 games.
Earlier Monday, an IOC report on the sites had given highest marks to Paris, but also had praise for London, Madrid and New York City. There was criticism of Moscow.
Dan Doctoroff, the main supporter of the city's 2012 bid, said after the report came out: "We have, as they [IOC] pointed out, really only one liability and that liability is thus far our inability to deliver a guaranteed done Olympic stadium."
The stadium plan has been contentious from the start.
Supporters, including Pataki and Bloomberg, have touted its economic development potential.
Detractors, including the owner of the neighboring Madison Square Garden, have questioned everything from the process that would allow the Jets to buy the property where the stadium would be built to the wisdom of spending large amounts of public money.
Over the weekend, Silver had said: "My concern is the future of downtown, the future of ground zero, the 24 million square feet of commercial space that are part of the West Side complex and how that competes with the redevelopment of downtown."
"We delivered real proposals to address those concerns, but so far he hasn't been willing to participate in that discussion," Bloomberg said Monday.
"We did put on the table proposals that would slow down or take away incentives on the West Side until lower Manhattan was really going very well in terms of attracting companies. And, the incentives for downtown would be much greater than for anyplace else," the mayor added. "That was not enough."
The NFL has said the Jets can host the 2010 Super Bowl, but only if the team has the new stadium. The Jets currently play their home games in New Jersey, along with the New York Giants at Giants Stadium. New York officials have said they fear the Jets, without a Manhattan stadium, will stay in New Jersey where the Giants are going to build their own new stadium.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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