Silver Rejects Westside Stadium

May 6th, 2005
Despite weekend negotiations, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today rejected a plan for $300MM in public funding that is key to building the proposed NYSCC. VIA AP and NY JETS - The powerful leader of the state Assembly on Monday rejected a plan to approve $300 million in critical public funding for a $2 billion stadium viewed as the key to New York City’s 2012 Olympics bid.

Without Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s support, the state funding cannot move forward.

"This plan is at best, premature," Silver said, indicating he was willing to continue talking about the issue. The state board could reconsider the issue again later.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said that without state approval for the stadium project, the city has no chance of winning the summer games. He had heavily lobbied Silver in recent days for support of the stadium that was also to serve as home for the football New York Jets.

"I had not been able to persuade him," Bloomberg said after Silver’s announcement. "As for our Olympic bid, rejection of the stadium will seriously damage our chances."

Silver said the West Side stadium project and its related commercial development would hamper efforts to redevelop lower Manhattan, which he represents, in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers.

"Am I to sell out the community I have fought for?" Silver said at a state Capitol news conference.

The Manhattan Democrat’s decision was announced less than an hour before the scheduled start of a meeting of the state’s Public Authorities Control Board at which the funding proposal was to have been presented after three earlier postponements.

Silver, Republican Gov. George Pataki and state Senate Republican Majority Leader Joseph Bruno each have a voting representative on the three-member PACB and its actions must be unanimous.

While Pataki has been a stadium backer, Bruno and Silver had remained on the fence.

Earlier Monday, Bruno had said he was willing to have the state board approve the stadium funding contingent on the International Olympic Committee approving New York City’s bid at its July 6 site selection session in Singapore.

Bruno said negotiations might continue beyond Monday.

"Who knows what tomorrow or next week brings," the Senate leader said.

New York City is in competition with Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow for the 2012 games.

Earlier Monday, an IOC report on the sites had given highest marks to Paris, but also had praise for London, Madrid and New York City. There was criticism of Moscow.

Dan Doctoroff, the main supporter of the city’s 2012 bid, said after the report came out: "We have, as they (IOC) pointed out, really only one liability and that liability is thus far our inability to deliver a guaranteed done Olympic stadium."

The stadium plan has been contentious from the start.

Supporters, including Pataki and Bloomberg, have touted its economic development potential.

Detractors, including the owner of the neighboring Madison Square Garden, have questioned everything from the process that would allow the Jets to buy the property where the stadium would be built, to the wisdom of spending large amounts of public money.

Over the weekend, Silver said: "My concern is the future of downtown, the future of ground zero, the 24 million square feet of commercial space that are part of the West Side complex and how that competes with the redevelopment of downtown."

Bloomberg responded: "I will do everything I can to rebuild lower Manhattan but I also have a responsibility for other parts of the city. We have to make sure we continue to build in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and all parts of Manhattan." The two politicians met over the weekend for discussions

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