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SBJ/October 4 - 10, 2004/SBJ In Depth
Published October 4, 2004
Here are some of the key people who can make or break sports facility projects
planned in the New York market:
Hired gun is the strategist who beat back opposition to get SkyDome built in Toronto and a new basketball arena built on the Miami bayfront. Now the president of the Jets, a Manhattan stadium for the team is the latest, and likely last, long shot that Cross has chosen to take.
Before he signed on as Michael Bloomberg’s deputy mayor for economic development, Doctoroff was an investment banker who threw his weight behind the wacky notion that the nation’s busiest city might host the Olympics. Now, he’s expanded that vision to include rebuilding Manhattan’s west side.
Get any of the stadium and arena proponents or Bloomberg backers talking about the Cablevision CEO and Madison Square Garden chairman and you’ll swear you hear Darth Vader’s theme music playing in the background. Dolan’s company has a lock on major events in the city and has spent heavily lobbying to keep it.
The former Republican fund-raiser who now chairs New York state’s economic development agency — the Empire State Development Corp. — has championed expansion of the city’s Javits Convention Center and supports the Jets project. He says he couldn’t care less about a stadium or arena, but wants the private investment that would go with them. Because the Jets and Nets both want to build over rail yards controlled by the state, the powerful ESDC gets to make many of the calls.
Named president of the Yankees in January 2000, after serving for 2½ years as Rudy Giuliani’s deputy mayor for economic development, Levine’s insider pedigree and understanding of the political minefield give Yankees owner George Steinbrenner the best chance he’s had at getting a ballpark deal that he’s chased for a decade.
Nawal El Moutawakel
The first woman from an Islamic nation to win an Olympic medal, this influential Moroccan International Olympic Committee member chairs the committee that visited the five cities vying to host the 2012 Games. The IOC could pull several projects out of the coals if it chooses New York City when it votes in July. The Olympic bid got the west side stadium project fast-tracked. Standing against developers can get you votes in this city. Standing against the Games won’t.
Prominent New York developer has played a role in moving downtown Brooklyn away from its light industry roots, replacing withering properties with a burgeoning business district. Now, he wants to relocate the Nets to an arena that would serve as the core of a $2.5 billion project that includes 4,500 residential units and 17 office towers.
The speaker of the state assembly is the state legislature’s most powerful Democrat. Most of the electeds with the juice to block the Jets stadium by themselves are backing it. Silver is one who hasn’t. At least not yet.
The Islanders owner needs a new building as badly as anyone and has said he’s willing to pay for it. Now that he’s in the real estate development business, he’s better equipped to get a deal that makes sense, particularly if Long Island politicos ever buy in to the idea of a downtown hub.
The Mets owner has tried to stay out of the fray since the fur started flying around the Jets and Nets plans, but he’ll blow a gasket if the Yankees land a deal and he thinks he’s been shortchanged. Considering the mayor’s stance on helping teams that help themselves, it’s difficult to imagine that Wilpon, a developer and major contributor to local political campaigns, won’t figure out a way to make it work.