Bergen Record - Stadium deal in jeopardy

In today's Bergen Record, there is an editorial stating that the Jets-Giants new stadium deal might be in trouble. Here is an excerpt from that piece:

"Last fall, in one of his last defining acts before leaving office, then acting Gov. Richard J. Codey announced an historic football marriage between the New York Giants and the New York Jets.

"Codey had helped to broker an agreement whereby both teams would keep their homes in the Meadowlands, and together would finance a brand-new stadium complex at an estimated cost of $1 billion.

"The upside of the deal, which Codey labeled "the best deal for taxpayers in NFL history," was easy to see. The teams would together build the stadium at no cost to the state. The state and towns surrounding the site would pick up the tab for the cost of extra infrastructure improvements, everyone would make a big barrel of money and all would live happily ever after.

"Only now, some three months later, just before the final vows have been spoken, the bride is getting cold feet, and word is the groom has been less than forthcoming about his intentions.

"Of course as professional sports complexes deals go, the Meadowlands agreement -- brokered by Codey and, astonishingly, agreed to in pretty civil terms by both Giants and Jets management -- appears more straightforward than most.

"It didn't require a binding popular referendum by New Jersey residents because the teams themselves agreed to pay for the initial construction. They also agreed to relocate their corporate headquarters and pay the corresponding income taxes. The teams would also pay a total of $5 million in annual rent to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority for 75 acres of land where the stadium would be completed, hopefully in time for the start of the 2010 NFL season.

"Now comes word, through a recently circulated NFL document that discusses the new Meadowlands deal's finances, that the Jets and Giants could take in as much $92 million per year in stadium revenue, while at the same time paying the bare minimum in state property taxes. This includes no additional property taxes on new development, or roughly 520,000 square feet planned for restaurants, entertainment and retail space the teams are proposing to build near the stadium.

"According to the agreement, the teams would pay a flat $1.3 million fee, not unlike a property tax assessment, called a Payment In Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT.

"East Rutherford Mayor James Castella and sports authority president George Zoffinger are outraged about the prospect. They believe, rightly, that such a tax provision is unfair, that it essentially low-balls the state from taking in taxes that other businesses must cough up as part of the price of doing business in this state."

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