Shelly Sacs the Stadium


Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told reporters Monday that he’d vote against the West Side stadium at an afternoon meeting of the state’s Public Authorities Control Board, appearing to doom the centerpiece of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s development plans for the city. Senate Majority leader Joe Bruno has also said he will vote no.

Stadium opponents might cheer it as such, but this was no triumph of democracy. Both the rise and fall of the stadium were both the work of powerful men acting almost alone. The mayor tried to bypass the normal checks and balances of city government to force his stadium through. Fittingly, it was Shelly Silver and Joe Bruno—not any legislative body, at City Hall or in Albany—and the rules of the PACB (it requires a unanimous “yes” vote to approve a project) who appear to have doomed the deal.

Of course, the mayor’s Democratic rivals cackled over his defeat, happy to have a little ammo against a mayor who’s enjoyed nothing but glowing headlines the past couple weeks because of improved school test scores and, in today’s papers, even lower crime. The Dems’ theme was that the collapse of the stadium proposal reflected poorly on the mayor’s dealmaking skills and priorities.

“Mike Bloomberg has spent the last three years on the job working with Governor Pataki and President Bush to get his billionaire friend a sweetheart stadium deal,” said Freddy Ferrer in a statement, “and he hasn’t even succeeded at that.”

Rep. Anthony Weiner, who earlier in the day announced he was sending a letter to the IOC pledging to build a stadium in Queens if he is elected mayor, said, “In the end, the West Side stadium failed because it was just a bad idea. And it’s been the Mayor’s single-minded obsession on the West Side stadium that has put the Olympics in jeopardy. Last April I called for the stadium to be built in Queens. Had we followed that advice, our Olympics bid wouldn’t be in the dire straights it’s in today.”

Needless to say, Weiner’s idea didn’t get much of a hearing from New York Olympic officials. NYC 2012 executive director Jay Kriegel told WNYC radio flatly, “There is no Queens stadium.”

There’s no West Side stadium either, at least for now. Pronouncing the idea “dead” seems a little premature, however. After all, the push to get a new sports facility in Manhattan goes back to the days when Rudy Giuliani was willing to create a charter revision commission in 1998 for the sole purpose of preventing a referendum on such a stadium. The push for a Manhattan stadium has been knocked down before, and lived to fight another day.