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With new stadium on hold, city plans to upgrade Shea

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Plans for a new Shea stadium, placed on the back burner by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, may have been pushed even further into the future last week by revelations in published reports that the city is planning an $11 million overhaul of the Flushing Meadows ballpark.

A confidential city Parks Department document prepared late last year called Shea a “rapidly deteriorating” facility that would require “increasing costs of maintenance,” according to a report first published in the Daily News.

A city engineering report completed in March said the stadium is safe for fans but is showing signs of old age with corroding and cracked concrete, sagging ceilings, loose wiring, water leaks and rusted outfield bleachers.

The report said 16 projects required “immediate action” because of potential “life safety” issues and 17 others could “affect public safety,” the News said.

But Bloomberg said last week that none of the problems posed a threat to Mets fans.

“Shea is a phenomenally well-used facility. And it has normal wear and tear,” the mayor said during a news conference. “It’s something the city has to address and repair and that’s what we’ll do.”

In January, Bloomberg said lack of school space and the city’s projected $5 billion budget deficit made building new stadiums for the Mets and Yankees impractical.

A report by Surtreat Northeast, a contractor that treats concrete, said the company was told that Shea “needed a program for extending the service life for another 10 to 15 years, this being the result of monetary spending shifts from stadiums to the ground zero rebuilding,” the News said.

“Now that we don’t anticipate a deal on a new stadium in the near future, it’s time to address many of the issues ... in the engineering report, Mets Senior Vice President Dave Howard told the Daily News.

Repairs to the cracked supports of seats on the field level are expected to begin in July, the newspaper said.

Shea Stadium opened in 1964 at a construction cost of $28.5 million. It is the fifth oldest major league ballpark after Fenway Park in Boston, Wrigley Field in Chicago, Yankee Stadium and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

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

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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