A New York State of Mind for the Jets


The Jets are flying back to New York. The National Football League team that has been playing across the Hudson River in Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., for 19 years is expected to announce in the next two months that it will build a $1 billion, retractable-dome stadium on Manhattan's West Side, BusinessWeek has learned. The stadium would be a big boost to New York's bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

Under owner Robert Wood "Woody" Johnson IV, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) fortune, the Jets will pay for the bulk of the project, with taxpayers footing a still-undetermined bill for infrastructure, including transportation upgrades. The new stadium, which will also serve as a convention center and arena, will be built on a platform to be constructed over Midtown rail yards between Penn Station and the Hudson River on Manhattan's West Side. The NFL would provide some financing through a special loan program for new stadium construction.

SUBWAY DELIVERY. A proposal for a West Side stadium was first trumpeted by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the late 1990s, when the New York Yankees were threatening to abandon the Big Apple. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was less enthusiastic at first but, along with Governor George Pataki, he has since embraced the idea, hoping it will help win the Olympic games and even possibly a Super Bowl. The International Olympics Committee will vote on the site for the 2012 games in 2005.

City officials have estimated that such a complex could eventually generate $2 billion a year in new tax revenues. Nearly 70% of those attending Jets games would use public transportation to get to the stadium, according to economic development officials.

Spokespersons for the Jets, Bloomberg, and Pataki declined to comment about an announcement, but sources say Jets President Jay Cross, hired in 2000 to help get a stadium deal done, has made great strides in recent months. Cross helped the National Basketball Assn.'s Toronto Raptors and the Miami Heat build new arenas. A Manhattan stadium announcement could come before the end of the NFL season in January, say sources.

ONE RING. The Jets would play their first season in Manhattan in 2009 under the plan. The team's lease at Giants Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands complex expires in 2008. The Jets earlier this year opted out of participating in a $300 million renovation of that stadium.

Struggling this year with a 3-6 record, the Jets made the American Football Conference playoffs last year, but have made only one Super Bowl appearance -- a dramatic victory in 1969 -- in their 40-year history. Under owner Johnson, the team now hopes a return to Gotham will change the course of history. By Tom Lowry in New York


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