EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ-Site work has been going on since April, but yesterday’s groundbreaking made it official: construction has formally started for the new $1.3-billion stadium that the NFL’s Giants and Jets will share at the Meadowlands Sports Complex here. The event also gave the teams, NFL and state officials a chance to unveil final design plans for the 82,500-seat venue, slated for completion in 2010.

Public officials, including Gov. Jon Corzine, were present because the state owns the land. The Giants and Jets will co-own and jointly operate the facility under a long-term ground lease with the state. The current Giants Stadium, which dates to 1976, is owned by the state via the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority and leased by the two teams. The Giants have been there since the beginning, and the Jets moved in as co-tenant in 1984. Once the new venue is completed, the existing facility will be demolished and replaced by parking lots.

“Every aspect of a Sunday at the stadium will be radically different before fans even step inside,” said Jets’ owner Woody Johnson at yesterday’s event. “To begin with, improved highway access and redesigned parking lots will make the trip more efficient.”

“For me, the new stadium exemplifies the best in public-private partnerships,” said Corzine. “The Jets, the Giants and the State of New Jersey have developed a genuinely collaborative relationship. We know that this will pay serious dividends over a long period of time.”

On the financial side, as reported by GlobeSt.com, the stadium is being privately financed by Jets Development LLC and Giant Stadium LLC in a 50-50 joint venture, including a $300-million loan from the NFL. Public expenditure is estimated to be in the $300-million range, mostly relating to infrastructure upgrades. The latter includes a new NJ Transit rail station on-site.

On the design side, highlights include 200 luxury suites, 9,000 club seats, a dozen high-definition screens to simulcast games, a 400-foot-wide exterior “great wall” of colored lights and photos, and changeable lighting relating to the teams’ colors and to specific special events. Team stores will occupy 15,000 sf, and there will be 20,000 sf of themed activity space. Besides 20 NFL home games, the facility is expected to host up to 80 other events per year.

Totaling 2.1 million sf on 40 acres, the new stadium will rise to the northeast of the current stadium and south of the Meadowlands Racetrack. The Meadowlands Xanadu retail/entertainment complex is currently under construction just to the east of the site.

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