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If You Build It, Will They Come? Part one of a five part series.

By Susan Bracci
Jets Insider.com Guest Correspondent
August 16th, 2004
Much ado is being made over building a new sports complex and an extension of the Jacob Javits Exhibition Center in New York City. Based on the false and misleading television commercials funded by the opposition, not to mention inaccurate interviews published by every self-serving politician and community group, one would think that there is only one side to this story. There is not. The steadfast leadership from the Governor and the Mayor is joined by a broad coalition of support from community and civic organizations and elected officials from across the City.

In order to find out the truth and hard cold facts surrounding this undertaking, I first went to the people who are willing to spend the most amount of money and gain the least amount of recognition for their efforts, the New York Jets. I sat down with Thad Sheely, VP of Development and Matthew Higgins, VP of Strategic Planning, just two of the many people who hope to make this dream of bringing a pro football team back to New York a reality. As we started the interview I was very impressed with the amount of research, statistics and commercial planning knowledge these two gentlemen had at the ready to discuss and wanted to convey. Their first issue was to address the concerns of the season ticket holders who religiously attend every home game currently held in Giants Stadium at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

"One of our first priorities is to step up efforts to involve our fan base in the process,” said Sheely. “A lot of the miscommunication about the new stadium, who's paying for it, and what it's benefits are must be addressed. Our time and efforts have been consumed with everything from community boards to civic associations and what we really want to do is assure our fans that their concerns are very important to us."

"Basically our first and foremost goal is to keep ticket prices equivalent to what the fans will pay in the last year at the Meadowlands in 2008, excluding premium seating and luxury boxes,” added Higgins. “We understand that fans are concerned about the pricing and location of their new seating and we want to keep our season ticket holders happy, especially during the transition period from New Jersey to the new stadium in Manhattan. We don't want to lose our most valuable asset and that is the Jet fans."

"We are several years away from even beginning the seat selection process, but we expect to put in place a seniority system”, said Sheely. “People who have held season tickets the longest will have first selection at comparable seating in the new stadium. We want to recognize and reward the long term loyalty of our fans.”

We also discussed the political ramifications and why every New Yorker seems to have an opinion or something to say on the matter. Even those whose districts would in no way be affected by this undertaking are getting into the act.

"Starting this week, fans will be able to visit newyorkjets.com and participate in a letter writing campaign to let Albany know how important this project is to all of us”, said Higgins. “A pre drafted letter will be accessible through the Jets official website at newyorkjets.com with a section to fill out your name and information, this will enable our fans to speak out and be heard. Our mission is to make everyone aware that we are in this for the long haul and plan on bringing the Jets back to New York. In order to do this, we need our Jet fans and friends support."

As we ended our interview, I couldn't help but admire the determination and focus that seems to drive these gentlemen in putting together and executing what has been the long held dream for many Jet fans. While the political and community opposition consists of "not in my backyard" mantra's, one can only hope that once all the facts have been revealed, people will put away their protest signs, get to the business of expanding the Javits, bringing home the NY Jets and work toward the revitalization of a neighborhood in desperate need of an economic facelift in order to create an area New Yorker's can once again be proud of.

Sheely and Higgins along with other key players involved in this project will be addressing and answering the questions on the designs & plans for the new stadium. These issues and so much more information will be forthcoming as we continue this series on if they build it, will they come?

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