Queens Now Central to New York’s Olympic Bid

Mayor Bloomberg Shows Mets Stadium Design (Photo by Maurice Pinzon)

Mayor Bloomberg Shows Mets Stadium Design (Photo by Maurice Pinzon)

By Maurice Pinzon
At an unusual Sunday night news conference at City Hall, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that New York City would submit a revised Olympic stadium plan to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), locating the proposed Olympic stadium in Willets Point, Queens.

The Bloomberg administration negotiated an agreement with the Mets organization so that the team would build and fund a new stadium scheduled to be ready for the Mets 2009 baseball season. New York City and New York State would spend a proposed $160 million on infrastructure and site preparation costs for the new stadium.

If New York is selected in July to host the 2012 Olympic Games, the new stadium would be converted to an Olympic Stadium configuration after the Mets’ 2011 baseball season. This would cost an additional $250 million with NYC2012, New York’s Olympic organizing committee, paying $142 million of the cost and the City and State each funding half of the $108 million balance.

The new stadium would be located at Shea Stadium’s current eastern parking lot, abutting 126th Street, and across the street from the Willets Point auto repair shops and junkyards. That property would have to be condemned by the City so NYC2012 could convert it into Olympic press facilities.

But even if New York does not win the Olympic bid, the Bloomberg administration has looked to develop Willets Point since 2002. (See our The Other Sports and Convention Center

Last night Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, “Having the Olympic stadium at the Shea Stadium site is also consistent with our plans for the development of Willets Point, for which we just received an amazing amount of interest from potential developers.”

Last week, Janelle Patterson, a spokeswoman for New York City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) told New York News Network that 13 proposals to develop Willets Point had been submitted to EDC and that the agency was actively negotiating with the interested parties. These development proposals may now be structured to complement the new stadium proposal, along with plans by the City to develop downtown Flushing and the waterfront along Flushing creek, which is located between Willets Point and downtown Flushing.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been dredging Flushing creek with funds provided by Congressman Joseph Crowley, with the goal of cleaning up the creek and restoring parts of its ecosystem.

The City owns Shea Stadium and the land surrounding the stadium. But since the Mets will own the new stadium, they will not pay rent currently paid to the City. In turn, the City will not incur the infrastructure costs it spends to maintain the outmoded Shea Stadium. New York News Network previously reported that the expenditures were adding up to $50.1 million from fiscal years 2001 to 2008.

The new Olympic stadium would be located in what NYC2012 has designated the “Olympic Park cluster” in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park where the water polo, rowing, canoe/kayak, archery, and tennis venues are planned.

Mayor Bloomberg seems ready to make the argument to the IOC that New York’s revised Olympic submission had substituted a plan for a West Side Olympic stadium in the heart of Manhattan – with its view of Manhattan’s iconic skyline – with a new plan that would demonstrate New Yorkers’ reliance and flexibility under intense time pressure.

He said: “If the IOC wants a city with heart, a city that can overcome its differences and can pull together during trying times, I think it’s fair to say New York City meets that test.”

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