NYC Comptroller on Stadium Project

The leading candidate to oppose Mayor Bloomberg in the next mayoral election is City Comptroller William Thompson. Where does he stand on the stadium? Here is a recent interview with Thompson on WNBC-TV by legendary reporter Gabe Pressman:

PRESSMAN: The airwaves are saturated these days with commercials pro and con on whether there should be a West Side stadium. How do you feel about it? Are you in favor of building a West Side stadium...

Comp. THOMPSON: Well, I haven't made a final decision yet.

PRESSMAN: ...for the Jets?

Comp. THOMPSON: Exactly. I start out with I'm a Jet fan and would like to see the Jets come back to New York City. At the same point, it's not just the stadium that--that you have to look at and what we're looking at right now. And I haven't come to a final conclusion.

First, I really think it's important that we expand the Javits Convention Center. I think that brings jobs and revenue into New York City, will bring additional tourists and business-people into New York and it's a good project, but as you look at the entire opening up of the West Side and the expenditures that have to go into it, first, the stadium itself, government between the city and the state, we're going to have to put in $600 million--$300 million from the city, $300 million from the state.

PRESSMAN: You have serious concerns about that?

Comp. THOMPSON: I have real issues with that and--and a concern, but at the same point, it's not just that $600 million. As you look at the rest of the West Side development. You're going to float commercial paper from the Hudson Yards--development corporation. But the city at least for the first--what I can see for the first 10 years is going to have to carry the payments on that commercial payroll because there's no business there. There's no development. All of that goes deeper than just the $300 million or $600 million that the city and state are going to have to commit. It's much more than that.

PRESSMAN: How much?

Comp. THOMPSON: I don't know yet, and that's what we're looking at, trying to figure out how much is this going to cost the city of New York. So it is not just $300 million.

PRESSMAN: So do you think it's going to cost hundreds of millions more?

Comp. THOMPSON: Oh, it has to. We will have to carry the payments on those bonds, it's going to cost a lot more. So I think what we're looking at is how much is this going to cost the city of New York and then is it worth the investment. So it's not just the stadium. It's the larger development. I'd like to see the West Side opened up. But the question becomes: At what cost? Over what period of time? And we, you know, will have an obligation to tell the people of the city how much is it going to cost them.

PRESSMAN: And what about the businesses and the residences that are affected by this--the people who don't want it because they don't want their lives disturbed? How do you feel about their concerns?

Comp. THOMPSON: Well, those are legitimate concerns, I mean, but at the same point, you're not going to make the final decision based just on that. It's a question of: Is it going to be good for the city or not? What will it do--revenue, development, growth, a number of other things?

PRESSMAN: Well, I know that you haven't made a final decision, but so far, have you seen serious obstacles in terms of the impact?

Comp. THOMPSON: Well, I think we're all waiting right now for the Environmental Impact Statement to come out and it's been delayed. It should have been out I guess a few weeks ago. It's supposed to come out I guess in the next week to two weeks. I think that's something that we all want to take a look at and see what that impact is going to be also. What I come to the table with are a lot of questions right now, questions that, in the comptroller's office, we're trying to answer and then we'll talk about those answers publicly.

PRESSMAN: The mayor and the governor seem to have no question in their minds about it.

Comp. THOMPSON: Well, they're trying to move forward full steam ahead. As I said, I would like to see the Jets come back to New York City. I definitely want to see a Javits expansion and I think for the development future of this city, we'd all like to see an opening up of the West Side. The question becomes at what cost, at what type of timetable, what type of development and what are we going to see on the West Side. So I think all those are questions that, you know, as--as a citywide-elected official, as a responsible elected official, I'd like answers to and we're working on providing those answers right now.

PRESSMAN: The governor and the mayor may regard you as a killjoy.

Comp. THOMPSON: Well, you know, I don't think I can make a decision based on what some of my colleagues in government may think, but at the same point, you know, I have an obligation to the people of this city also and I'm going to fulfill that.

Part II Tommorrow

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