Gotham Gazette

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The Fight Over Manhattan's Last Frontier

Proposed Stadium at Hudson Yards

Citizens Union Foundation's
Civic Conversation on
West Side Development,
June 24, 2004:

* Forum opening statements

* Excerpts from question and answer session

The Bloomberg administration’s plan to redevelop the Far West Side of Manhattan by decking over the Hudson rail yards, expanding the Javits convention center and building a new stadium for the Jets, has won a ringing endorsement from an array of celebrities, including Donald Trump and actor Michael Douglas, in a new newspaper ad campaign.

But Sheldon Silver, speaker of the state assembly, earlier this month proposed legislation that would expand the Javits Center but that did not include the plans for the new football stadium.

And, late last month, the Independent Budget Office, issued a report disputing projects by the Jets of many jobs and how much revenue the stadium would produce. Even under an optimistic scenario, the office said, the stadium would create about 3,586 jobs, half the number predicted by the Jets. The Bloomberg administration has relied heavily on the Jets study in advocating the project.

The office agrees with the administration that tax revenue from new convention business generated by the project could cover the city’s share of the costs of the construction. But, it cautioned, “if the convention business projections prove too optimistic, the city could be left with insufficient funds to cover its entire investment.”

Such recent events have fueled what New York Times reporter Joyce Purnick has likened to the rancorous debate over Westway in the 1980s.

Purnick’s comment came at a June 24 discussion of the project, sponsored by Citizens Union Foundation, the publisher of Gotham Gazette, on June 24. To start off the discussion, Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, an architect of the plan, said that, like Central Park in the 19th century, the project offered New York the opportunity to take bold action that could change the city. In his opening statement, former Metropolitan Transportation Richard Ravitch opposed the project -- taking what he said was his first public stand on a major municipal issue since he left government. (For excerpts from the opening statements by Doctoroff; City Councilmember Christine Quinn; Adam Barsky, deputy secretary to the Governor for Finance & Housing; James Parrott, deputy director and chief economist of the Fiscal Policy Institute; and Ravitch, click here.)

Following the statements, members of the audience questioned the panelists. While most seemed to endorse expansion of the Javits Center, many challenged Doctoroff’s support for the stadium. Panelists debated the process that will determine the fate of the project, as well as financing details and possible alternatives to the plan. (For excerpt from this discussion, click here.)

The discussion was the first in a series of Civic Conversations to be sponsored by Citizens Union Foundation.

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