With the announcement on Monday that the new Mets stadium in Queens is going to be the Olympic Stadium if New York gets the 2012 Summer Games, the Jets' chances of getting a stadium on Manhattan's Westside are slim. That stadium proposal relied heavily on the venue being used for the Olympics, as well as Jets games.
"The Jets are now conspicuously absent from the Olympic plan, and I think that speaks volumes about their interest in negotiating an understanding with New Jersey and the Giants," said Carl Goldberg, chairman of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which runs the Meadowlands. "I think their focus has shifted, and this suggests that the Jets are very interested in making New Jersey their permanent home. If you read between the lines, from a New Jersey point of view, that Jets non-participation speaks volumes."
In fact, the Jets and Giants have already begun negotiations regarding the project.
"We will talk again in the near future," said Giants Vice President John Mara.
If the Jets build a new stadium with the their crosstown rivals, it will not be called Giants Stadium. The fact that the Jets have been playing in Giants Stadium for over 20 years has long been in irritant to the Jets and their fans. Instead of being called Giants Stadium, the name of the new project will be sold to the highest corporate bidder like so many other modern-day pro stadiums, New England's Gillette Stadium or Washington's Fed Ex Field for example.
But don't expect the Jets and Giants to agree to a deal on this new stadium project anytime soon. A lot of details need to be worked out. The current Jets lease at the Meadowlands is a lousy deal by NFL standards. Expect Jets President Jay Cross to make a lot of demands, and get many of them. According to a source close to the Jets, the Green and White are in a great position to negotiate a tremendous deal with the Giants.
"The Jets have the Giants by the you-know-whats," said a source close to the Jets. "The Giants are going to bend over backwards to appease the Jets."
Why do the Jets have such a great negotiating position with the Giants? Simple. The Jets have an option in their current contract with the NJSEA, which expires in 2008, to extend their lease to 2018. If they exercise this option, they would kill the Giants' new stadium deal.
"The Giants can't [build this stadium], without the Jets approval," said the source.
So expect the Jets to play hardball before agreeing to any deal with the Giants. And also expect a lot of rumors to be floated about other possible landing spots for the Jets, aside from New Jersey. These rumors will likely be part of the negotiation process.
"There will be rumors about moving to Los Angeles and also not abandoning the Westside project, but at the end of the day, the deal to be done is in New Jersey," said the source. "The deal to be done is with the Giants. For all intents and purposes it will be New Jersey."
Monday's announcement of a new Mets stadium in Flushing begs the question - Why didn't the Jets consider Queens?
From the outset of the Jets' announcement that they were going to pursue a new stadium, Queens was never an option with Jets owner Woody Johnson and Cross. In their minds, it would have been almost as expensive as Manhattan without nearly the marketing appeal. The Jets brass felt that Madison Avenue would have been much more excited about a Manhattan stadium than one in Queens.
New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg called Johnson three times since New York State assembly speaker Sheldon Silver killed the Westside Stadium deal last week. Bloomberg attempted to convince Johnson to consider Queens. He repeatedly said no. If you think Bloomberg worked hard trying to change the owner's mind, it was nothing compared to the efforts of New York Governor George Pataki.
"Pataki called Woody six times," said the source. "He wanted [the Jets] to do something with the Mets in Queens, but the Jets have no desire to share a stadium with a baseball team."
And when that baseball stadium was announced on Monday, the Jets were furious.
"They were pissed," said the source. "Silver signed off on a Mets Stadium in 72 hours, when the Jets were working on him for a several years. He signed off on the Mets stadium even before an environmental study and any hearings."
So this is another reason why the Jets future home will likely be in New Jersey. After the way they were treated by the New York State assembly, headed up by Silver, do you think they really want to do business with New York?
So New York's loss is New Jersey's gain.
"The Jets are absolutely, positively going to remain in New Jersey," said New Jersey acting Governor Richard Cody. "No question about it." It certainly looks that way.
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