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Land owners choose Jets stadium project

NEW YORK (March 31, 2005) -- The New York Jets' plan for a $1.7 billion Manhattan stadium that could also serve as the centerpiece of the 2012 Olympics cleared a major hurdle when its bid was approved by the state agency that owns the proposed site.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board voted unanimously in favor of the football team's $720 million offer for rights to develop the site over a remote railyard adjoining the Hudson River. It was chosen over two competing proposals.

"This is a tremendous project with tremendous jobs, and I can go home at night and sleep soundly knowing I am pushing this forward," said James Simpson, chairman of the MTA's real estate committee.

The Jets' proposal for the 75,000-seat stadium is backed by the city and state and is crucial to New York's attempt to host the 2012 Olympics.

But it has also attracted bitter opposition from some residents and is expected to be a factor in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's bid for re-election this fall.

Before the vote was taken, City Council speaker Gifford Miller warned that the fight would continue.

"Why are you doing this?" Miller asked the panel as the audience inside MTA headquarters cheered and booed. "This is not over. This is a terrible mistake."

The Jets currently play home games at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The team hopes to play at the new facility starting in 2009. New York is competing with four other cities for the 2012 Olympics. A decision is expected in July.

Under the Jets' proposal for the site, the team would provide up to $720 million, with $440 million coming from six developers who would buy excess development rights on the site. Their offer would depend on zoning changes. The state and city would pay $600 million for a platform over the railyards and a retractable roof.

Cablevision, the most vociferous opponent of the Jets' plan, offered $760 million -- including $400 million in cash up front and the rest in a promise to construct a platform over the railyards. Madison Square Garden, where the New York Knicks and New York Rangers play home games, is owned by Cablevision and is less than a half-mile from the railyards.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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