posted on Oct, 1 2004 @ 06:19 AM
New Jersey Now Tries to Lure the Mets from NYC
Thu Sep 30, 2:58 PM ET Sports - Reuters
By Joan Gralla
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Jersey, which tried for years but failed to win the Yankees baseball team from New York City, now has set its sights on the
city's other baseball team, the Mets, who play in Shea Stadium in Queens.
"The Mets have got to feel like the redheaded stepchild here," George Zoffinger, chief executive officer of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition
Authority, said on Thursday.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's has been "pouring all that money into the Jets stadium and the Nets arena," Zoffinger added.
The New Jersey agency is weighing a 40,000-seat, $350 million stadium, which would not be paid for with taxpayer funds, Zoffinger said.
Asked about New Jersey's overture to the Mets, the Republican mayor told reporters at a news conference: "I can't imagine why any sports team would
ever want to move out of New York." He added he would fight to keep the Mets in Queens.
"The Mets aren't going anyplace," Bloomberg added.
Bloomberg has promised the Jets football team $300 million for a new $1.4 billion stadium in midtown Manhattan, a centerpiece of his bid for the 2012
The National Football League team now plays in Giants Stadium in New Jersey's Meadowlands Sports Complex, located just five miles west of midtown
Bloomberg in January got the Nets basketball team to move to Brooklyn from the Meadowlands, partly by pledging the extra tax revenues he says a new
$300 million stadium will generate.
New Jersey Senate President Richard Codey "initiated" the latest battle between New Jersey and New York City over big league sports teams, according
Codey plans to meet with the Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon, though no date has been scheduled yet, Codey's spokeswoman, Kelley Heck, confirmed.
The Democratic senator's views carry weight because Codey becomes acting governor once the current governor, James McGreevey, resigns in mid-November.
A spokesman for the Mets, who last won the World Series (news - web sites) in 1986, was not immediately available to comment.
Shea Stadium was built in 1964 and is now outdated.
In the waning days of the Giuliani administration, both the Yankees and the Mets thrashed out deals for two new $800 million stadiums. But Bloomberg
axed those plans shortly after he took office, saying the city could no longer afford them because of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Zoffinger recalled that the Yankees in the past used New Jersey as a bargaining chip to get New York City to sweeten the deal to keep the team in the
historic Bronx arena.
The Mets might take that approach too, he said. "We believe that if the Mets want to come, we should make the offer to the Mets first," he said. But
if no deal is reached with the Mets, other teams, such as Florida's Devil Rays or the Marlins might be persuaded.
"There are a lot of what I would call small-market teams that would (gain) a tremendously increased ability to be profitable and compete if they were
in this market," he said