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Bloomberg puts kibosh on new Mets stadium

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s stadium dreams the stop sign Monday when he said budget constraints meant the projects would not be given priority this year.

“At the moment, everybody understands that given the lack of school space, given the deficit in the operating budget, it is just not practical this year to go and build stadiums,” Bloomberg told a news conference.

But the mayor did say he would adhere to the promise made by Giuliani to pay the Mets and Yankees $5 million a year for the next five years for design and other planning costs of the new ballparks.

In his final days in office, Giuliani signed tentative agreements for two $800 million retractable roof ballparks for the city’s baseball teams. There was opposition from some New Yorkers who said the city could not afford the stadiums in the aftermath of Sept. 11 and the nationwide recession.

The Mets park would be designed to evoke memories of Ebbets Field and built in what is now Shea Stadium parking lot.

But the Mets did not view Bloomberg’s announcement as a fatal blow to a new stadium.

“As New Yorkers we fully understand and respect Mayor Bloomberg’s position on the new stadium project,” said Dave Howard, senior vice president of the team. “We will await further direction from the mayor and we will be ready to resume discussions when he deems it appropriate.”

If the economy improves, Bloomberg said, new stadiums could be possible down the road.

“I’d like to see great stadiums like everyone else,” he said. “But you have to set priorities, and the priorities at the moment do not, this year, allow for the construction of new stadiums.”

Bloomberg’s comments came one day after Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión Jr. called on him to drop plans to build new baseball stadiums, saying the city had “far more urgent” priorities.

“New Yorkers need schools and not stadiums,” Carrión told Bloomberg.

Through a spokesman, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall also said Bloomberg should not rush into stadium deals. She urged the city to consider the model used by the U.S. Tennis Association, which built its current facility in Flushing Meadows Corona Park using private money.

“We right here in Queens have students who are going to class in hallways holding clipboards and using them as desks,” said Dan Andrews, a Marshall spokesman. “School construction continues to be more of a priority right now. We’re 30,000 seats short in Queens.”

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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