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BrustBlog Pontifications on Microsoft and the Tech Industry

 

The headlines tonight make it look almost certain that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board will vote to approve the New York Jets’ bid to build a stadium over the LIRR rail yards in Manhattan’s West 30s.  I am extremely pleased with this probable outcome and I think the Bloomberg administration was right to push hard for it.  Many people I know, and with whom I often agree on matters of city politics and policy, do not share my view on this issue and have been (and will be) very surprised by it.  What follows is a first attempt at explaining why I think the stadium initiative is good for New York and for New Yorkers.

 

Most importantly, New York City needs a convention center that equals or exceeds in size that of other major cities.  From attending industry conferences around the U.S., many of which are very far from New York, I can tell you that Javits is a laughing stock in comparison to its counterparts in other cities.  Besides gnawing at my innate New York snobbery and assumption that New York should have the biggest and best everything, this disparity infuriates me in terms of the economic misfortune it brings to this city.  Javits’ inadequate size kills our prospects for most serious convention business.  Has Microsoft ever had a major conference in New York?  Even VSLive, for the first time in 10 years, won’t be coming here.  We’re too small at the high end and too expensive at the low end.  Something needs to change.

 

I want New York hotels to have the room nights, I want New York cab drivers to have the fares, I want New York restaurants to have the revenues, and I want New Yorkers to have the jobs that a constant flow of convention and conference business can bring.  I want people who wouldn’t ordinarily come to New York to come here because a conference is in town, and I want them to discover how much fun it is here, and then I want them to come back on vacation.

 

The Jets stadium gets us a bigger Javits Center.  It also gets the Jets back to New York.  I have never been a big sports fan, but I grew up here and I went with my dad to see the Jets play at Shea.  And when the Jets left Queens to play in New Jersey, it really kind of broke my heart.  In the 70s, New York had all the “ets” teams…The Mets for baseball, the Jets for football, and the Nets for basketball.  With two out of three going to NJ, it’s just felt unnatural.

 

And another thing.  The campaign by Cablevision to scuttle this deal is one of the most cynical, dishonest, and corrupt political ploys I’ve seen in a long time.  Anyone who thinks a company based in Bethpage, Long Island gives a damn about the quality of life of residents of Manhattan’s West Side is dreaming.  Although the TV spots they ran were meant to look like they were paid for by a consortium of Chelsea block associations, they were in fact a desperate attempt by a failing media and entertainment company that is not based in New York City to protect its Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden franchise.  Period.

 

I’m as troubled as anyone by the hyper-gentrification of Manhattan, and I do acknowledge that the stadium project has the potential to make it worse.  But I also know that protectionist policy to keep the West 30s a relative wasteland is wrong-headed.  And I feel strongly that many people who oppose the stadium truly do not realize how much economic activity we are losing without such a project.  Further, I have a feeling that the number of home games played and nighttime events held at the stadium will make for traffic congestion that is far less than what many people fear.  When I was a kid, I marched against Westway.  That would have caused traffic nightmares all throughout the West Side.  I can’t imagine a Jets stadium doing any such thing.

 

And a final word with regard to New York’s bid for the 2012 Olympics (another underpinning of the case for the stadium).  I think the campaign is improbable, and maybe even Quixotic.  I think having the Olympics here will ultimately make no sense economically.  I also think chances are very good that the games will go to Paris.  But maybe we should still try.  It would be a royal pain to be the host city, but I have to admit it would be fun.  And with our stadium plan in place, and the specter of labor unrest in Paris during the games, you just never know…the IOC may just decide to give us a chance.

 

But a bigger Javits is my mantra, and this project looks to me, on balance, like the best way to build it.

Posted on Thursday, March 31, 2005 12:51 AM | Back to top


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