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NEW YORK CITY-Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Herman Cahn today dismissed four consolidated lawsuits that challenged the bidding procedures used by Metropolitan Transportation Authority in its sale of the Western Hudson Rail Yards site to the New York Jets. Cahn’s decision also left intact four other legal challenges includingtwo suits questioning the adequacy of the city’s Environmental Impact Statement One was filed by the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association, neighborhood residents and Madison Square Garden; the other was brought by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign. There is also a suit brought by individual neighborhood residents and Madison Square Garden against the Empire State Development Corp. alleging that it acted illegally in approving the plan as well as a suit brought by the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association in federal court charging that the Hudson Yards plan, including the stadium, violates the federal Clean Air Act.

Cahn ruled that the MTA “was not obligated to issue a Request for Proposals.” He wrote that the MTA did not act in “an arbitrary and capricious manner” in making its determination. The Public Authorities Control Board has a vote on the matter scheduled for tomorrow.

The Jets’ $720-million plan calls for the New York Sports and Convention Center to be built over the yards located between 11th and 12th avenues and 30th and 33rd streets and is anticipated to cost upwards of $1.4 billion. The NYSCC will be able to operate as a 75,000-seat stadium or a plenary hall seating up to 45,000 people when used in combination with an expanded Jacob Javits Convention Center.

“Today’s decisive Supreme Court ruling is a victory for all New Yorkers,” says New York Jets President Jay Cross. “Recognizing that the opposition to the NYSCC is ‘disingenuous,’ the Court cleared the way for PACB to approve the project. We look forward to a positive decision at tomorrow’s PACB meeting so that we can begin construction of the New York Sports and Convention Center – a project which will generate hundreds of millions in new revenue for New York and tens of thousands of new jobs for New Yorkers.”

An MSG spokesperson issued a statement saying, “We disagree with the ruling. We do not believe the MTA Board has the right to cut an inside deal and are highly confident that this will be overturned on appeal. Far more important, is the issue of whether or not taxpayers should be forced to subsidize a $2.2 billion football stadium on the West Side of Manhattan that New Yorkers do not want and cannot afford. In the court of public opinion, the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers stand together in opposition to this waste of taxpayer funds.”Civic and labor groups also said they will appeal the decision Cahn found that the groups lacked standing and dismissed their case. The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, Transport Workers Union Local 100, Common Cause/NY and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. The groups argued that the MTA violated its duties to secure the best terms possible for the sale of this valuable asset and did not proceed through a process that insured fairness to all potential bidders. The groups are represented by Tom Shanahan of the law firm Shanahan and Associates, PC; Daniel Bright of the law firm of Kennedy, Schwartz and Cure; Nancy Christensen of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign; and Eric Schneiderman, New York State Senator for the 31st District. “The MTA cannot be allowed to act like a rogue agency,” says Schniederman. “On appeal we will argue that the MTA has a legal duty to maximize the benefit from the sale of its assets, and that it failed to fulfill that duty with regard to the Rail Yards.”

“Today was a loss for the riders,” said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign. “We respectfully disagree with Justice Cahn and on the negative impact on millions of riders.”

While we disagree with the Judge’s findings, today’s ruling is not surprising,” adds Robert D. Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association. “The stadium approval process was meticulously designed to provide the absolute minimum public oversight while remaining within the bounds of the law. Despite costing taxpayers approximately $1 billion, the stadium never came up for a vote in front of the City Council or the State Legislature, not to mention the taxpayers of New York. While this process has been deemed legal, Justice Cahn makes clear that just because something is legal doesn’t mean it is good public policy.”

“This is simply phase one of the court rulings in what will undoubtedly be a lengthy legal battle over this misguided stadium plan,” says a spokesperson for the Hell’s Kitchen/Hudson Yards Alliance. “We are confident challenges against this back-room stadium deal will ultimately be successful. As the public discovers that the stadium subsidy will cost taxpayers more than twice what was originally advertised, more people realize how rotten a deal it is for New Yorkers.”

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