View Full Version : City Revives Domed Stadium Plan For Flushing

October 2nd, 2003, 06:53 AM
City Revives Domed Stadium Plan For Flushing

By Bryan Virasami and Graham Rayman
Staff Writers

October 1, 2003, 9:43 PM EDT

The decades-old dream of a domed stadium overlooking Flushing Bay has been revived as part of a plan developed by the city.

Proponents say the vision could be realized if the Bloomberg administration failed to reach its goal of building a stadium on Manhattan's West Side for the 2012 Olympics and the Jets.

While community opposition to the West Side stadium is running strong, an Olympics/football stadium within a comprehensive plan to redevelop Flushing has many of that community's leaders enthusiastic.

"We got the USTA [United States Tennis Association], we got the Mets, and we would like to get the Jets back," said Chuck Apelian, chairman of the land-use committee on Community Board 7.

Janelle Patterson, a spokeswoman for the city's Economic Development Corp., said other options for the Flushing site include a regional retail entertainment complex or a convention center.

City officials and the Atlanta-based private consulting firm of Cooper Carry broached the stadium proposal Tuesday at a two-hour community meeting, but they cautioned that it was one of several ideas for redeveloping the Willets Point triangle known as the "junk yard," encompassing about 90 legitimate businesses, including many auto parts shops.

Purchasing the land, relocating businesses and environmental cleanup would cost $214 million, according to the consultants. The stadium's price tag and many other details have yet to be determined.

The Mets have a stalled plan for a $500-million retractable-dome stadium in the shadows of the existing Shea Stadium.

The Olympic/football stadium is not the first domed venue suggested for the 110-acre locale. In the 1980s, Donald Trump sought approval for a venue for his New York Generals football team, part of the now-defunct United States Football League. And a domed stadium for the site of what became Shea Stadium was once proposed by Robert Moses as an alternative to Los Angeles for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

For now, the broader Flushing redevelopment proposal calls for expansion in retail, office and residential spaces, improvements in transportation and recreation spaces, and green paths to a promenade at a dredged Flushing Bay.

"A stadium in the Willets Point section makes sense," said Councilman John Liu, who represents the area. "Either a stadium or a convention center."

He said the current interest in building a stadium on the West Side shouldn't preclude exploring the Willets Point area simultaneously.

Forest Hills activist David Oats said a stadium at Willets Point would be the perfect Olympics anchor venue in the event the city wins the 2012 summer games. It wouldn't depend on a billion-dollar expansion of the No. 7 train to the far West Side, he argued, as Willets Point is already served by major highways, the Long Island Rail Road and the 7 train.

Oats, a writer who formerly was an editor at the Queens Tribune, said he plans to organize a rally in the Meadowlands next month to encourage the Jets to return to Flushing. "Our theme will be 'Come back to Flushing where you came from,'" Oats said. "We will stage a mock tailgate party on the No. 7 train."

A call to the Jets was not returned yesterday.

The idea to redevelop Willets Point is widely supported by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall as well as Flushing civic leaders.

But some business owners, such as John Fedora, general manager of Fedora Foods in Willets Point, said he hopes the city doesn't ride roughshod over their interests. "It's distressing to know that at any time we could be evicted, or should I say, condemned," Fedora said. "If the city appreciates our jobs and our taxes, they would do the right thing by giving us as much time as possible."

The site is a former garbage dump with huge environmental problems. It has no sewers, no sanitation services, no septic tanks and no storm drains, he said.

Some civic leaders say the idea of a stadium for baseball and the Olympics and football should be explored.

Copyright Newsday, Inc.

October 2nd, 2003, 08:44 AM
This would be great, I must admit. I really might make more sense than the west side. It saves a billion dollars or more right off the bat - no platform or 7 extension. Plus, it would make this area the #1 sports venue in the country - Mets, Jets and US Open. Maybe they could expand Javits North AND South then and make it the biggest convention center in the world, which it should be.

October 2nd, 2003, 11:33 AM
The #7 subway extension needs to be built whether there is a stadium or not. This is the way to get this underutilized district into the city mainstream and spark massive development.

October 2nd, 2003, 12:38 PM
This is true, I meant it in the most narrow sense of the comment (realting to the stadium).

In fact, if they expand Javits, the platform will need to be built anyway. Maybe, though, the difference would be more state funds for the 7 and platform. This would be good for the city and may be a more efficitent use of land for both projects, ie. new stadium plus an even bigger Javits.

October 3rd, 2003, 12:48 AM
Flushing Fall-Back

Olympic boosters considered Shea area, memos say

By Graham Rayman

October 3, 2003

The "best alternative" to the Bloomberg administration's goal of an Olympic stadium on the West Side of Manhattan is the area around Shea Stadium, according to internal memos by the nonprofit group working with the city to snag the 2012 summer games.

"Construction costs would be substantially lower than on the West Side," reads a Jan. 22, 2002, memo, adding that this "fall-back alternative" next to Shea could be converted into a 40,000-seat major-league soccer stadium after the Olympics.

The memos from NYC2012 were copied to Daniel Doctoroff, the city's deputy mayor for economic development who formerly headed the group, and never made public. Doctoroff has made construction of a stadium on the far West Side the linchpin of the city's bid to host the Olympics.

Written by NYC2012 official Christopher Glaisek and circulated among key officials involved in the Olympics bid, the detailed memos state that the city was required by the United States Olympic Committee to come up with a backup site, and the group conducted a "comprehensive planning investigation of Shea Stadium and vicinity." The recommendations were later presented to the USOC.

A second NYC2012 memo restates the view that the Flushing site would be "the best alternative" to the West Side plan. This March 7, 2002, memo notes that Shea Stadium "could be converted to Olympic use and returned to its baseball configuration after the Games." The facility would have to accommodate 80,000 seats, according to the memo. It now seats about 56,000 for baseball.

Noting that the USOC requested the preparation of a backup plan, the March 7 document states: "This is because the scale and complexity of the project makes it one of the most difficult to build for the Games, yet it is perhaps the single most important venue."

"The USOC does not want to discredit or jeopardize any existing stadium proposals, and therefore has not requested a formal submission," the memo adds. "Instead, they would like a short visual presentation during their next site evaluation visit."

Yesterday, Doctoroff downplayed the memos, saying the idea has not been discussed for at least a year.

"It was a conceptual look, theoretical," he said. "It was never comprehensive."

"This is not a serious look," he added. "If you compare the amount of effort between that and the West Side, it is a tiny, tiny fraction."

"There has been not one word of discussion about a stadium used for the Olympics there: none, zero," he said. "Our focus is exclusively on the West Side."

Jay Kriegel, the NYC2012 executive director, declined to comment on the memos.

Newsday reported yesterday on a Flushing community meeting held Tuesday at which Economic Development Corp. officials and consultants with the Atlanta-based firm Cooper Carry raised the notion of building a stadium, convention center or other large facility in Willets Point as part of a Flushing redevelopment master plan. When people in the audience asked if an Olympic stadium could be considered, the presenters agreed to explore it as the plan advanced.

Reacting to the story, Doctoroff called the implication that the Flushing site is being eyed for an Olympic Stadium as "reprehensible, out of context and completely wrong."

Doctoroff said the EDC stadium suggestion actually involved a new facility for the Mets.

"It is not news that there needs to be, at some point in the future, a new Shea Stadium," he said. "It could be five years, 10 years, 20 years from now."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg also weighed in.

"We'd love, if we ever had the money to do it, to do something to get two better baseball stadiums - either fixing them up or building them," he said. "That has nothing to do with an Olympic Stadium."


Excerpts from internal NYC2012 memos identifying Flushing as a fall-back site for an 80,000-seat Olympics stadium, which the city seeks to erect on the West Side of Manhattan.


To: Internal

Date: January 22, 2002

Re: Willets stadium alternatives

In response to the USOC request for a back-up site for the [West Side] Olympic Stadium, the Facilities Team has begun a comprehensive planning investigation of Shea Stadium and vicinity ...

1. Olympic Stadium

A second stadium in Flushing could be built in a variety of configurations ...


a. Parking lot west of Shea - domed or open-air 75,000 seat football stadium. If a new Shea Stadium is built to the east, a second stadium could fit on the west parking lot. This would require additional parking ...

b. Parking lot west of Shea - open-air 25,000 seat expandable soccer stadium ...

c. Temporary conversion of existing Shea ...

2. International Broadcast Center (IBC)

In the absence of a West Side stadium, the future of a West Side broadcast tower is less certain ... . The area around Shea Stadium has several relatively large sites ... .


a. Unused LIRR yards (20 acres) ...

b. Platform over #7 yards (10 acres) and/or MTA parking lot (12 acres) ...

c. Willets Point junk yard (11 acres) ...

d. College Point Boulevard site (14 acres) ...

e. Shea parking lot ...



The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has required that bid cities prepare a fall-back alternative to the Olympic Stadium proposed in their original bid book. This is because the scale and complexity of the project make it one of

the most difficult to build for the Games, yet it is perhaps the single-most important venue ...


Total seating must be at least 80,000 ...

Site options

The best alternative to the [West Side] Hudson Yards Olympic Stadium is the Shea Stadium / Willets Point vicinity ...

One view of Shea Stadium and Flushing Meadows Park.

Flushing More Than A Fallback, Advocates Say

By Bryan Virasami

October 3, 2003

A secret memo describes the Shea Stadium area as the second-best place to build an Olympic stadium in New York City, but many people who live in Manhattan and Queens would disagree.

It's the best site.

After telling NYC2012 officials for more than a year that an Olympic/football stadium makes better sense in Flushing than on the West Side, civic activists said the January 2002 memo from the nonprofit group confirms their long-held views.

Chad Marlow, 31, of Greenwich Village, said it makes more sense to build a stadium that could be converted into a future home for the New York Jets, since the Jets used to play in Flushing.

"It would be a perfect first choice, not a perfect second choice," Marlow said yesterday. "I desperately do not want them on the West Side."

Forest Hills activist David Oats, who has pushed to bring the stadium to Flushing, blamed NYC2012 officials for a "Manhattan-oriented approach."

Oats and other activists predicted that vigorous civic opposition to a West Side stadium - centered on concerns about traffic congestion and cost - would eventually turn all eyes to Queens. Extending the No. 7 line to the far West Side and building a stadium on a platform over the Hudson rail yards are among the more prohibitive elements.

City officials are hoping the Olympics investment would touch off an economic resurgence of the far West Side, which consists of high-rise office buildings, warehouses and residential buildings.

"If they really want the Olympics, they better switch fast, they better switch gears and prepare to move here," Oats said. "They better wake up and smell the coffee and abandon this pipe dream of Manhattan."

Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) said he wasn't surprised to learn of the internal memos describing the merits of Willets Point as a fall-back site.

"I'm drooling, and City Hall should be, as well, at the prospect of generating so many new jobs at this new site and helping our city get back on its feet economically," Liu said.

Copyright Newsday, Inc.

October 3rd, 2003, 11:45 AM
I think this would be a great idea because (A) Flushing Meadows would handle the traffic better than the west side of manhattan, assuming they beef up the 7 line, and (B) that park has such unrealized potential. I'm hoping we get the Olympics just so they can revitalize the place.

October 4th, 2003, 11:21 AM
Mayor: New Stadium No Help

By Dan Janison
Staff Writer

October 3, 2003, 4:50 PM EDT

Shifting plans for an Olympic-size stadium from Manhattan to Queens would fail to meet the key city goal of drawing big conventions to the Jacob Javits Center, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday.

"The truth of the matter is that this facility has nothing to do with sports," Bloomberg said of the West Side stadium plan. "What we need in this city is a dramatic expansion of the Javits Convention Center."

That, he said, includes a new part of the West Side Javits facility "that will hold 60,000 people seated in one place."

The mayor reacted to stories in Newsday this week about the prospect of a Flushing-based alternative during his weekly WABC radio appearance.

Nowhere in his remarks did Bloomberg mention the city's bid for the 2012 Olympics, potentially tied to the stadium, which his administration is pursuing. "It's total economic development," he said.

On Friday, Newsday disclosed that internal memos of the NYC2012 committee, once headed by Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, identified the area of Flushing near Shea Stadium as the "best alternative" for the stadium site.

But Doctoroff, a year and a half later, dismissed the alternative plans as only "a conceptual look." In turn, Bloomberg rejected efforts by activists in both boroughs to offer Queens as the better plan.

"A handful of people who don't want something on the West Side are trying to say 'Oh, you guys in Queens -- it would be great for you.' The truth of the matter is that this facility has nothing to do with sports."

He emphasized that the current plan would mean jobs for residents of all boroughs.

"The 50 or 60 biggest conventions can't come here because we don't have the kind of facilities that they needed," he said. "Even if we do all this we're still going to be half the size or slightly more than half the size of what Chicago has."

Talk of moving the football Jets to the West Side domed stadium from New Jersey hinges on the team's willingness to pay for its construction -- in turn stimulating sorely-needed tourism jobs, he argued.

"And you don't get that if a stadium is built in Flushing -- no matter how meritorious that stadium in Flushing may be," Bloomberg said. He said the need to eventually replace or renovate Shea and Yankee Stadium are separate issues.

Copyright Newsday, Inc.

October 5th, 2003, 11:35 AM
assuming they beef up the 7 line

Unfortunately, there are no plans to improve this line (other than extend it to the West Side of Manhattan), and no real ideas on the table for how it can be done.

TLOZ Link5
October 5th, 2003, 07:06 PM
Not necessarily. An extension of the 7-train from Willets Point is being considered as an alternative for rail access to LaGuardia.

October 6th, 2003, 09:07 AM
Putting a stadium in a park does not revitalize the park. If it did, the Park would already be revitalized. Stadiums are used a few hours per week, and people bug out after the game. Add to that the parking lots...

October 6th, 2003, 11:28 AM
But the park area being talked about borders downtown flushing, which there are plans to redevelop with more retail, commercial, and residential, along with more devepment along the water. It's long overdue and the development here is bursting at the seems. If these developers could build 700ft towers, I think they would, at least a couple of them.

October 6th, 2003, 12:38 PM
Putting a stadium would help revitalize Flushing, and could even connect the Park to its other venues. The Park is huge, and stadiums at the corners would give it a better fluidity. You can now go to points of cultrual interest and visit relics from the World's Fair. You can go see a sporting event and play golf. However Corona Park is underused and is disconnected. It does however has the potential to become the cities playground, its all there. And flushing too, it offers alot. Both are in serious need for good urban planning.