Tuesday, March 15, 2005

MLS: Metros must be in Harrison or Jets Stadium, or leave NY

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said yesterday that he's had it with NJ state politics, and is considering either moving to the proposed Jets stadium on Manhattan's West Side, or leaving the NY area all together.

According to the Bergen Record's Ives Galarcep, "Talks stalled once state officials began demanding that AEG, the MetroStars' parent company, guarantee half of the portion of the stadium proposal that is to be paid off by state-issued bonds (roughly $18 million according to a source with knowledge of the deal) in the event that MLS folded.

The current Harrison plan will cost $84 million, would have AEG paying $20 million, the town of Harrison paying $20 million, the NJSEA paying $15 million and state-issued bonds covering the difference as well as potential overages (between $34 and $36 million). The Metros and the NJSEA have come close to agreements on two separate occasions, only to have the state back out and seek new concessions."

Reported in today's Newark Star Ledger, Garber said, ""We do believe that we are providing value to the city of Harrison and Hudson County, significantly improving an area that right now is a bunch of abandoned gas tanks. The incremental tax value, the incremental real estate development and overall quality of life value -- and I live 20 minutes from there -- is something that as a tax payer in New Jersey I rather have somebody do something there that's going to improve that environment and I'm willing to help pay for that.

"So I do believe that our stadium is no different than a Wal-Mart, a Sears or an office building, and municipalities contribute in partnership with private developers because that overall development enhances the value to citizens and the tax coffers of the municipality."

Should Harrison fail and the Jets stadium fail to materialize, Garber said he is willing to leave the NY Metro area. Today's Record: "If we can't find a solution to stadium situation that team will not be able to exist in this market," said Garber. "We lose two to three times more money with that team than any other team because their expenses are higher. Their attendance is higher than most teams, but their expenses are higher."

Galarcep: "The sides are scheduled to meet on March 30, where they will discuss the findings of an independent consultant hired by the NJSEA to quantify the viability of MLS and of the stadium deal."

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