Sometimes I wonder if the people who make decisions in sports actually ever watch the sports they’re involved with, or ever go to a game. I mean, did Woody Johnson ever drive himself to Jets game, try to find parking, and then sit in traffic on the way out? He can’t possibly have? How do I know that? Because if he had, there’s NO WAY he’s pushing so hard for a new stadium over the West Side Rail Yards.
This Stadium (not to mention the 2012 Olympics) would be an infrastructure nightmare. There’s no parking anywhere. The feeder roads could not handle the swarm of cars, and there’s limited public transportation. How will 70,000 people get to the game on Sundays? And where the hell will they put their cars?
Which is to say nothing of the traffic nightmare that will have reverberating effects throughout the city when this fiasco is being built. How did this decision get made?
Jets’ Rep: “Right at the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel, let’s put huge construction equipment and block roads.”
City Rep: “What about commuters to midtown from Jersey?”
Jets’ Rep: “Uh, I don’t know. Screw Jersey?”
City Rep: “Yeah, that’s fine. Screw Jersey.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think the Jets deserve their own Stadium. And if New York wants to have their City on the Jets’ name, then they can provide the place to play. I have no problem using city funds to assist in the building (as long as it’s reasonable. If cities never paid for new arenas and stadiums, they would never get built, and they wouldn’t be as good when they ever did get built. If a fan wants a top notch viewing experience, we need new stadiums every once in a while). But this decision has GOT to be reasonable. So what should the Jets do?
A quick aside for background and context: I am a Yankee fan. Huge. However, I am also a huge baseball fan, and will watch any game, especially in person. So, during the Summer of ’98, I went to a ton of ballgames, usually with my friend, Adam. When the Yankees were in town, we went to Yankee games. When the Mets were home, we went to Met Games. And we came to a consensus. The seating at the upper level is better at Yankee Stadium, because it’s built straight up, instead of up and out like at Shea. However, the fact that Shea is built at the intersection of 3 major highways (Van Wyck, Whitestone and Grand Central) and a major street thoroughfare (Northern Blvd.), which makes getting to and from a game easy. A pleasure. It never took more than 3 minutes to get out of the parking lot and onto the highway. Even when there was a big crowd. And because it’s in Flushing Meadow Park, there’s ample parking day or night, people shouting “howdy, neighbor!” Which makes all the experiences supplemental to the actual game so much better at Shea.
Back to W-W-Woody and Jets. The Mets, who also desperately need a new stadium, have proposed a double use, joint Stadium that would share certain infrastructure (TV Studios, etc.) but would have separate fields for football and baseball. This is brilliant. It’s Utilitarian, and would be great for Mets and Jets fans. So here’s what we hope for (which I think may actually happen). The IOC awards the 2012 Olympics to Paris (right now, the strong frontrunner) after being unimpressed by NY, and not trusting that it can get the Stadium it needs. The New York state legislature, with no Olympics to build a major stadium for, denies funding to Jets Stadium (thank G-d), and the MTA sells it to some real estate developer (hopefully, a client of mine, so I can make some $$$ on this deal), and he builds apartments and office buildings, to revive the Hudson Yards area of Manhattan. Or maybe a topflight Convention Center, with hotels, but no stadium. And the Jets take the Mets’ offer. And do the smart thing.
In a future post, I’ll explain my opinions about why the 2012 Olympics would be a bad, bad thing for New York.
(Today’s References: Coming to America; South Park; Elton John)