Tishman Construction, commissioned by the Jets and backed by Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) and state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale), concluded that a sports and convention center in Willets Point would lead to annual revenue losses of at least $8 million for the city. Tishman is a giant construction concern headquartered in Manhattan.
"The Tishman report serves to confirm that all of those wishing to reframe this discussion as a battle between Manhattan and Queens are out of bounds," Weprin said in a statement. "We must stop that debate as it can only hurt the chances of this plan becoming a reality."
This report comes on the heels of studies by Ernst & Young, a major accounting firms commissioned by the Jets organization, and one executed by a hybrid grouping of economists and professors, commissioned by U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens).
According to Weiner's calculations, the proposed $1.4 billion Jets stadium for the West Side would be the costliest sports development in recent history.
Because the plan to develop on the West Side would mean building a deck over the existing rail yards between 11th and 12th avenues and 30th and 33rd streets in Manhattan, the city and state would split the $300 million it would cost to stabilize the site. The city and state would also contribute an additional $300 million toward the project.
Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff told the TimesLedger during an interview two weeks ago that the cost of building on the wetlands in Willets Point was nearly comparable to the price of building a deck in Manhattan.
"No matter what you do it's going to cost $220 million just to provide the infrastructure," he said, adding it would cost $120 million alone to construct pilings on that land. Willets Point is located alongside the Flushing River between the Grand Central Parkway and Northern Boulevard in Corona.
A major building at Willets Point could cost up to $350 million, he said.
The payoff for the Jets at the proposed Manhattan site, according to Doctoroff, would be much greater.
As the Tishman study agreed with Doctoroff's assessment. "In Manhattan, there is a potential for higher revenues from luxury suites, club seating, naming rights, signage, ticket sales, concessions and memorabilia," it said.
The Tishman study estimated that the public would invest $42 million annually for a return of $72.5 million.
According to the study, a Willets Point stadium would require the Jets to build structured parking that would cost $180 million - a cost that would not be required if the Jets were to build in Manhattan.
"The projected costs for an enclosed stadium in Manhattan or Queens are approximately the same, $1.4 billion," according to the study. "However, the expected public return on investment reflects an annual loss if the facility were to be built in Queens."
The study also touched on the point that the Jets may not be willing to invest $800 million in a stadium outside Manhattan.
The team plays at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. It played its home games at Shea Stadium from the 1960s until the early 1980s, when the Jets moved to New Jersey.
Queens fans have vocally opposed the West Side proposal in a publicity campaign in favor of building the stadium in Willets Point.
But representatives such as Weprin and Maltese continue to use their political weight to push for the construction of a West Side stadium.
"New York needs jobs, but we also need to maximize our investment to ensure taxpayers are protected and we generate as much money for education and health care as we can," Maltese said in a statement.
"I love Queens," he said. "But the best place for the sports and convention center is clearly Manhattan."
Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.
©2004 Community News Group
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