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Miller touts boro for Games in State of City speech

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Miller, a likely Democratic challenger in this year's race for the mayoralty, dedicated a significant portion of his State of the City address last Thursday to stumping for a Queens site, saying it made no sense to pin the city's Olympic hopes on a proposed West Side home for the New York Jets, which has faced bitter opposition from the owners of Madison Square Garden and some community activists."The mayor says that New York will lose the 2012 Olympic games if we don't build this stadium right away," Miller said. "We don't need to build a stadium today for an Olympics that is seven years away - particularly where there are better venues in our city, like Queens, on which to build."Bloomberg has said the city would use $300 million of its own money to help finance the West Side stadium, which would host the 2012 Olympics if the city's bid proves successful and serve as a home to the New York Jets. Under the plan the mayor is backing the state would pitch in another $300 million and the Jets would finance the rest.But Miller outlined a number of so-called hidden costs, including infrastructure development and tax breaks, which he said could boost the city's burden for the West Side plan to more than $1 billion. He also said the 75,000-seat West Side stadium would choke the area with increased traffic.Miller, who recently picked up the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) for whom he served as chief of staff, instead proposed building a mix of market-rate and affordable housing, retail facilities and open-air recreation space in the area of the Metropolitan Transit Authority's West Side rail yards."We should develop an Olympic stadium in Queens," Miller said. "That way we'd bring twice the jobs to New York that we would by just building a West Side stadium."Although Bloomberg said Monday that he was open to any alternate ideas, he has repeatedly said the mostly private funding plan for the stadium would fall apart if it is moved away from the West Side. The area around Shea Stadium -- one of the most obvious locations - lacks the grandeur Olympic planners are looking for and does not offer the Jets' owners the same economic advantages, such as lucrative naming rights, that a Manhattan address a would, he said. The mayor also has linked the West Side stadium's approval to the success of a proposed extension to the No. 7 subway line to the far West Side.Borough President Helen Marshall has said she does not oppose the West Side stadium although she indicated that the more-than-four-decades-old Shea Stadium is in dire need of replacement.Miller's position also puts him at odds with several other borough lawmakers, including Council Finance Committee Chairman David Weprin (D-Hollis) and Majority Whip Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who support the West Side plan.In his speech, Miller said he would move to block the mayor's plan by proposing zoning changes to the stadium site and amending city finance laws to require a public budget process for the $300 million in proposed city funds. The idea was originally proposed by U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Kew Gardens), also a likely mayoral candidate.Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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