The political football that is the New York Sports and Convention Center is inching its way toward its goal line as approvals continue to stack up despite defensive measures by the opposition. In a recent chat with Real Estate Media editorial director Michael Desiato, New York Jets president L. Jay Cross spelled out his game plan and his view of the varied arguments by stadium nay sayers–most visibly Cablevision head honcho Jim Dolan and most recently New York City comptroller William Thompson. Reportedly, Thompson labeled the entire West Side development “a backdoor financing scheme that is not only fiscally imprudent, it also flouts the principles of responsible government.” Cross mounted his defense at Real Estate Media’s recent RealShare New York Conference. Some opponents have questioned the financing of the stadium, labeling it a fiscal nightmare. How do you respond?

Cross: You’re not putting public money into a stadium, you’re putting public money into infrastructure. There’s a hole over there. It’s been a rail yard for more than 100 years, and it is an impediment to the city’s development. That’s the essence of the public money use. For years we’ve said we would pay for an open-air stadium if we can get a site in New York City. The West Side projects—the expansion of the Javits Center and the Number Seven subway as well as the New York Sports and Convention Center–are not mutually dependent on each other. They are not one big $5-billion financing scheme, as people like to characterize it. They are their own entity. We are our own entity. In terms of funding, $300 million comes from the state, $300 million from the city and $800 million or whatever it takes to complete the project will come from the Jets. How is the deal being structured?

Cross: The transaction is being led by the Empire State Development Corp. We’ve been working with them to put together a series of leases–a lease from the MTA to the development corporation, which has a lease mechanism with the city and the Jets. We undertake responsibility for developing the entire facility–including the deck over the yards–and the city, for its part, puts its $300 million in and obtains a real estate interest in the transaction. And how about timing?

Cross: The development board will meet shortly to approve the general project plan, which will then go through a 60-day public-hearing process. During that period we have to obtain the final EIS—our good friends at Cablevision were unsuccessful in getting it derailed legally. And that will happen sometime in November. Then it is back to the board for final approval and then to Albany. We hope to start construction next spring. And to date the approvals process has pretty much gone your way?

Cross: Yes. Our opponents have tried to suggest that there has not been a public debate, which is hogwash. The process is going as we envisioned it. By my standards it is going incredibly slow. By New York standards, people tell me, it’s going incredibly fast. In June you wrote an open letter to Jim Dolan, and you came out swinging about what you called the misinformation campaign against your project. You offered to discuss the project’s merits publicly with him. Did he ever respond?

Cross: No, he has not offered to respond. They have spent more than $4 million on the campaign. But you take Jimmy Dolan out of it, and I don’t know of a public figure who is against this project. Outside of a small core group, the big echo chamber is responding to Cablevision’s intense efforts to protect a monopoly. The notion that there is not enough money in Manhattan to support two or three sports facilities is crazy. What is your take on the city’s Olympic bid?

Cross: No city can host a Games and not see it as a great thing to do. Some people have said we don’t need it. If we don’t, why does London? Why does Paris? Without a stadium, would there be no chance at all for New York?

Cross: I wouldn’t see no chance, but it will send a signal to the International Olympic Committee that maybe we can get it done and maybe we can’t. What would a Super Bowl mean to New York City?

Cross: It’s a no-brainer. The NFL is headquartered here, and there is no doubt they would come here on a recurring basis if a facility existed. The Super Bowl brings in a quarter billion to $300 million of economic activity, and that will translate into about $25 million to $30 million in fiscal impact–direct tax revenues to the city and the state. Do you really feel you are at a disadvantage operating out of Giants Stadium?

Cross: Sure. It’s red and blue, for Pete’s sake. We’re the only team in all of sports that shares a stadium with one of its competitors. What will be the impact on the West Side revitalization?

Cross: I don’t make the argument that we’re a panacea for the city’s problems or that we’re a catalyst for development. We’re removing impediments and creating opportunities. In 10 years, you won’t recognize the West Side for all of the projects

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