A new plan after west side stadium falls through

Updated: June 12, 2005, 10:10 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- In a last-ditch effort to land the 2012 Olympics, the city will substitute a planned baseball stadium for the football stadium rejected by state leaders earlier this month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday.

Bloomberg said the new stadium would be built on land owned by the city next to Shea Stadium in Queens and would be used by the New York Mets. He said he was committed to fighting for the 2012 Summer Games despite the recent setback.

"New Yorkers aren't quitters," he said. "We just don't walk away from our future."

Bloomberg said the Mets will build the stadium, which will be privately funded, for the 2009 season. The city and state will provide $160 million in infrastructure and $100 million to convert the stadium from 45,000 seats to 80,000 seats if the city is awarded the Olympics. The mayor also said the Mets could play home games at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx during the Olympics.

Mets chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon joined the mayor at the news conference.

"We are delighted to join in today's announcement and help solidify our city's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games," Wilpon said.

Bloomberg and his NYC2012 bid committee worked through the weekend to finalize the revised plan, which could be presented to the International Olympic Committee next week. The IOC will choose a host city July 6 in Singapore.

The city is competing against Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow to host the games. Members of the IOC said during a visit to New York earlier this year that a new stadium would be critical to the city's chances.

On June 6, state leaders refused to approve $300 million in funding for a proposed $2.2 billion football stadium on Manhattan's west side. The stadium was to have been used primarily as the home of the NFL's New York Jets.

The mayor said the Queens stadium plan would be a "tougher sell" than the Manhattan plan. But he said the new plan would show the IOC that the city was willing to clear all hurdles to win the games.

Citing an "exceptional circumstance," the IOC said New York could modify its plan but must go to the IOC executive board for approval before the July vote.

U.S. Olympic committee chairman Peter Ueberroth and chief executive officer Jim Scherr released a state after Bloomberg's news conference.

"We applaud Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff and the entire NYC2012 team for the determination and resolve they have shown in developing an alternative plan for the Olympic Stadium," the statement said. "Their can-do attitude typifies the American spirit and is emblematic of what the Olympic Movement is all about."

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who opposed the Manhattan stadium, said Sunday night he has backed the Queens stadium during the entire Olympics debate.

"The stadium will be built independent of whether we're awarded the Olympics or not," Silver said. "Hopefully for the '09 season this can be done."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press