Paris receives flawless report
ALBANY, N.Y. -- In a matter of hours, New York City slipped from being a worthy contender for hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics to a long shot, contemplating a forfeit.
A state panel denied an essential chunk of funding for a proposed $2 billion stadium on Manhattan's West Side -- the centerpiece of the city's bid to host the Olympics. Rules dictate the city cannot change its proposal, which the International Olympic Committee is considering along with bids from Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow. The IOC will choose a host city on July 6.
"We have let America down," Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a stadium proponent, said Tuesday. "The [U.S. Olympic Committee] selected us, New York, to represent the country. Other American cities wanted to have the privilege of competing at the world level."
One day earlier, New York officials were boasting about the Big Apple's strong chance in the showdown to host the games. The IOC issued a report Monday morning evaluating each bid, giving Paris, London, Madrid and New York positive ratings.
But by midafternoon, when lawmakers on the state Public Authorities Control Board indicated they would not approve $300 million in stadium funding, a clearly disappointed Bloomberg acknowledged New York's fading hopes and said it was unlikely New York would be selected without an Olympic stadium guaranteed.
When asked Monday if he would request that the USOC yank New York from consideration for the IOC's decision next month in Singapore, Bloomberg said he would discuss the matter with USOC leaders.
USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said officials are studying how to proceed.
Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, founder of the NYC2012 bid committee, said the stadium defeat was "deeply disappointing, especially because it comes on the day when the International Olympic Committee verified the strength of New York's bid."
While NYC2012 can request to take New York out of the running, the USOC has final say on whether to pull out. It is considered an unlikely move, in part because quitting could devastate U.S. chances at hosting future Olympics for many years.
The sports complex also would have served as a home for the New York Jets, and the team's president said the setback wasn't the final chapter in the team's quest to build in Manhattan.
"Four years of hard work and planning will not be washed away in a single day," Jay Cross said.
The powerful three-member state board -- which comprises representatives for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Gov. George Pataki and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno -- shot down the funding in a vote late Monday afternoon. The board's actions must be unanimous, and only Pataki's representative voted yes.
Pataki had long supported the proposal for the stadium. Until Monday's vote, Bruno and Silver said they had serious concerns but indicated they could be swayed.
In recent weeks, the mayor courted Silver with various economic development projects in his lower Manhattan district, trying to convince him that the area devastated by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks would not be neglected in favor of the stadium.
"Am I to sell out the community I have fought for?" Silver said Monday.
Bloomberg said Silver mistakenly assumed the two Manhattan neighborhoods, about 3 miles apart, could not be developed simultaneously.
The stadium plan has spurred fierce debate from the beginning.
Supporters say it will create jobs, stimulate economic activity and revive a long-ignored swath of Manhattan's far West Side. Opponents -- including the owner of nearby Madison Square Garden -- question the use of any public money for the project, as well as the potential environmental and infrastructure problems that come with a large sports complex.
Bruno said he was willing to let the state board approve the stadium funding if the IOC approved New York's Olympic bid. He offered that as an amendment at the PACB meeting, but the motion failed to gain a second.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press