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Nytimes Stadium Article Jets President Jay Cross Gives His Take

#1 User is offline   bobzero11 Icon

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Posted 07 May 2005 - 07:28 AM

For the link to work you need to sign up for a FREE NYTimes account, it is really worth it... ok.gif

http://www.nytimes.c....html?th&emc=th

also im not sure if this belongs in this forum, but so be it...

May 7, 2005
Impact of a Stadium: A Look at Other Cities
By ROBIN POGREBIN

For many foes of a plan to build a Jets stadium and convention center on the far West Side of Manhattan, the biggest concern is how such a megastructure would affect the neighborhood and the borough as a whole - from light to crowd noise to views of the Hudson River.

Members of Community Board 4, whose neighborhood includes the stadium's proposed site, are apprehensive. "Look at stadiums all over the country," said Walter Mankoff, the board's chairman. "You find nothing but bars and parking lots in the general vicinity."

Officials for the Jets and the city argue that the building will be an agent of renewal, anchoring and rejuvenating an area that now amounts to little more than abandoned rail yards and urban blight. Opponents say the stadium is a brassy and architecturally undistinguished behemoth that will compromise the neighborhood's character, breed congestion and fail to foster daytime activity in a dormant area.

In a recent interview at his Midtown office, Jay Cross, the Jets' president, cautioned that a stadium could not shoulder the entire burden of reviving a neighborhood. "One building can't do it on its own," he said.

Still, he added, a stadium can help.

He points to two others he was in charge of building: the American Airlines Arena in Miami in 1999, and the Air Canada Center in Toronto in 1998. His experience with them led to his being hired by the Jets.

In Miami, the development around the arena, home to the Miami Heat, a National Basketball Association team, includes a group of high-rise condominiums. Across Biscayne Boulevard, a few blocks north of the stadium, is the Performing Arts Center of Greater Miami, designed by Cesar Pelli, which includes a ballet and an opera house connected to a concert hall by a bridge. It is scheduled to open in the fall of 2006.

Last month, the city and Miami-Dade County announced plans for a new Miami Art Museum and Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium to be built in the neglected Bicentennial Park nearby; Cooper, Robertson & Partners is doing a master plan for the site.

In March, a developer agreed to pay $190 million for the area's 10 acres surrounding The Miami Herald's bay-front headquarters. Plans could include residential, office, hotel and retail buildings. Yet many argue that the sports arena had little to do with Miami's development spurt.

"It's done nothing for the neighborhood," Nancy Liebman, president of the Urban Environment League, an advocacy group in Miami-Dade County, said of the stadium. "Would you want to live next door to an arena? It blocked the whole waterfront; the streets get clogged."

While Ms. Liebman said she viewed Miami's building boom as generally positive, she added that it came about largely because of government efforts to clean up the area and lure developers. "People have confidence about coming into downtown," she said, "and none of it has to do with the stadium."

Others say the arena deserves more credit. "The American Airlines Arena was the beginning of the redevelopment of the entire downtown area," said Sherwood M. Weiser, chairman of the foundation charged with building the performing arts center.

"I believe these kind of institutional buildings - they're the catalyst," he added. "Just as Lincoln Center was on the West Side of New York. The whole area has taken on a life of its own."

But Mark S. Rosentraub, a sports economist and dean of the College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, said Miami was a "fast-growth area" even before the arena.

"You could hang up a shingle, and it was going to cause economic development," he said.

Similarly, change was already under way in Toronto before the building of the Air Canada Center, home to the N.B.A.'s Raptors and the National Hockey League's Maple Leafs. The SkyDome, now known as the Rogers Center, which opened in 1989 and is home to the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team, had begun to change the area by ferrying people to games through mass transit rather than by building a sprawling parking lot.

"SkyDome was the big bet," Mr. Rosentraub said.

"The bottom line is, it worked," he added, noting that people are coming to games without their cars.

Toronto's development continues. Plans were announced last month for a $350 million hotel, condominium, shopping and entertainment complex to be built adjacent to the Air Canada Center, and for a $300 million Ritz-Carlton hotel and condominium project nearby.

Two other major development projects are already under way: the Sapphire Tower, billed as the city's tallest residential tower, and the Trump International Hotel and Tower, also downtown.

In New York, Mr. Cross is also gambling on not building parking lots. Downtown stadiums should avoid "seas and seas of parking," he said, which he called antithetical to sound environmental planning. He noted that transportation was already available - meaning trains, buses and ferries, as well as the planned extension of the No. 7 subway line - and that most football games were not at rush hour, when mass transit is crowded. The area already has some parking lots.

Mr. Mankoff of Board 4 warned that the neighborhood already had more cars than it could handle. "The Lincoln Tunnel is jammed," he said. "So are the ramps into the tunnel. It's the worst possible place to bring 75,000 people into the neighborhood."

"When it's not in use, it will be isolated and deserted, like the Javits Center is now," he said of the stadium, adding that he and his fellow residents would prefer a project that included residential, retail and commercial uses.

Amanda M. Burden, the director of the City Planning Department, asked the architect for the proposed stadium, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, to incorporate more street-level retail space and greenery into the design, and the firm obliged.

But even Mr. Cross acknowledged that it was "tough to put street life into these buildings" when they also had to involve so much stadium infrastructure, from vast boiling rooms to cooling systems to locker rooms to storage.

He emphasized that his two previous arenas, like the Jets stadium, were intended for areas that were desolate or in decline. The site of the American Airlines Arena in Miami, for example, had been dominated by abandoned rail tracks, parking lots, pawn shops and the Bicentennial Park, where the homeless congregated, he said.

"If we were proposing to put this in the West Village, yes, it would be a problem," he said of the Jets stadium. "New York has got quaint streets and neighborhoods. We also have our backyards, which are full of garbage. The West 30's are not anything New Yorkers are proud of. There isn't a neighborhood there."

The stadium's impact, he added, would take time to determine.

"You've got to give it 20 years," he said. "You've got to be patient. They can help neighborhoods," he said of stadiums, "but they're not instant panaceas. They will neither repel housing or attract it. There still needs to be a bona fide reason to build housing or commercial space as part of a well-thought-through package, because it's largely market driven."

"Times Square had all the good will to clean it up," he continued. "But it needed developers to make commitments."

The Jets stadium gained those kinds of commitments only in March, when developers made proposals for commercial and residential towers to counter Cablevision's $760 million competing bid for the property. The deal allowed the Jets to raise their own bid to $720 million from $100 million.

Over all, successful arenas depend on this kind of "concentrated planning," Mr. Rosentraub said, citing San Diego, Indianapolis and Cleveland as examples. Still, experts say the proposed Jets stadium is a tougher draw than the Miami and Toronto arenas for stores, restaurants and housing because the building itself will have far less sports activity; the Jets play only 10 home games a year. Baseball, by comparison, has 81 home games in addition to possible playoffs; it can draw three million people a year compared with football's 800,000 - and that's if all the football games sell out.

But Mr. Cross pointed out that the stadium would also be the site for conventions, college football games, soccer games and police academy graduations, raising its use to a minimum of 150 days a year. "That's us being superconservative," he said.

As for daytime foot traffic, Mr. Cross said there would eventually be art expos in the convention center and pregame events, adding that a stadium was not intended to generate round-the-clock activity. "It will be no more deserted than Park Avenue on a weekend night in August," he said.

Richard Ravitch, a former developer who served as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and was once the state's top economic development official, expressed skepticism. "You need life and street activity to make a neighborhood," he said.
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