Mets, city, state iron out plans for new stadium

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The Mets, the city and the state are finalizing the details of a contract to build a $500 million stadium with a retractable dome in the parking lot of the existing one, a project that could be completed by opening day in 2004, according to a published report.

Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Borough President Claire Shulman, said in an interview Monday that her office has not had a direct role in the negotiations between Mets co-owner Fred Wilpon, the city and the state. He said, however, that Shulman supports the construction of a new stadium, which would be built next to the one that has been there for 37 years.

The Daily News reported last Thursday that Wilpon, the city and the state were ironing out the terms of the contract, with the Mets expected to announce an agreement in the next week or so. The specifics of the contract, according to the newspaper, are said to include naming rights for the stadium as well as how it will be designed.

The newspaper also said the Mets, the city and the state were each expected to cover a third of the $500 million stadium, prompting one state senator in Flushing to say that financing it without passing a state budget was irresponsible.

“I think its a terrific location, it’s a perfect location for development,” said state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing). “The real problem is who’s going to pay for it.”

Stavisky said Gov. George Pataki had disapproved of budgeting money directly for the construction of the stadium, choosing instead to allocate funds for improving the nearby highways and transportation network. The New York Post reported last week that upwards of $165 million may be financed through Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority bonds, a possibility that may be hampered if Wilpon’s is unable to provide a steady source of revenue to the state.

A spokesman for Triborough Bridge and Tunnels, Frank Pascual, denied the New York Post report. “There is absolutely nothing to it,” Pascual said. “We don’t know where they got that from. We’re not doing it.”

The plans to construct a new stadium is separate from the borough president’s proposal to condemn Willets Point, a bazaar of auto body shops across the street from Shea Stadium, Andrews said. Earlier this year, Shulman filed papers to declare the entire 55-acre parcel an urban renewal area, a move that would force the relocation of the current business owners and make way for some form of real-estate development.

“We are not commenting on any aspect of the project,” said Dave Howard, a spokesman for the Mets.

But the design plans for the stadium, according to the News, include a facade similar to that of Ebbets Field and a retractable dome. It will not, however, include a field that would roll out of the stadium when it is not in use.

The only potential obstacle in finalizing the contract is Wilpon’s partner, Nelson Doubleday, who has said the Mets should either renovate the existing stadium or explore relocating to a site near Belmont Park, the News said. Doubleday and Wilpon have been at odds for years even though they jointly own the team.

The newspaper also said Doubleday was expected to sell his stake in the Mets to Wilpon, a move that would generate an additional $25 million for Doubleday, provided that the new stadium is built.

Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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