Jets raise offer for new stadium to $720M

KAPALUA, Hawaii -- The Super Bowl is coming to the Big Apple
in 2010. Maybe.

Now all the New York Jets have to do is get approval for their
stadium project on the West Side of Manhattan, which is no slam

NFL owners voted 31-1 Wednesday to award the 2010 game to New
York, provided the 75,000-seat stadium, whose cost now has reached
nearly $2 billion, is built.

"Today is a landmark day," Jets owner Woody Johnson said,
"and the 2010 Super Bowl in the New York Sports and Convention
Center will be a historic event. We're thrilled about this

But there still are many hurdles before the Jets can break
ground on what also would be the centerpiece of the city's 2012
Summer Olympics bid.

Earlier this week, the Jets substantially increased their bid
for the land on which the stadium with a retractable roof would be
built, upping it to $720 million. The Metropolitan Transportation
Authority, which owns the land that currently is used as train
yards, will choose among three bidders on March 31.

There also has been substantial opposition to the project from
neighborhood action groups and others who question why New York's
policemen, firefighters and teachers are without contracts, but the
city can chip in $500 million or so for a stadium.

Both the city and state favor the project.

"We're thrilled with the National Football League's decision to
award the 2010 Super Bowl to New York City," Mayor Michael
Bloomberg said. "It is an enormous vote of confidence in our plans
to build the New York Sports and Convention Center. When it is
complete, New York will finally have a world-class facility for the
country's top sports events, along with the economic activity and
jobs that come with them."

Jets president Jay Cross compared the stadium project to a race.

"Every day we are closer to the finish," said the Jets' lead
man on the stadium. "This is one of many steps in a long hurdle
race. We've cleared the next hurdle."

March 31 would be next, and if that goes against the Jets, the
West Side site probably would be dead.

Beyond that, if the Jets beat out the bids of Cablevision, which
owns Madison Square Garden, and a third bidder, TransGas Energy
Systems LLC, there still could be lawsuits.

Plus, New York is considered an outsider to get the 2012 Games
in a race with Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow.

But Wednesday was a day for celebration for the team that has
not played in a Super Bowl since 1969; for the city and state; and
for the league itself.

"When the NFL says it wants to bring its signature event to New
York, that helps build momentum," said Cross, who has worked for
four years on the stadium deal. "It's important to build a broad
base of support and a consensus."

Patriots owners Robert Kraft was particularly supportive of the
2010 decision.

"It's very important," he said. "It will be a great economic
catalyst to the city, great for the NFL and our partnership. The
whole point is, take New York and look at that area and the
economic catalyst it can be.

"The last Super Bowl in Jacksonville and the one before it in
Houston and next year in Detroit creates tremendous exposure and
tremendous economic opportunities."

The Jets, who have played in the New Jersey Meadowlands along
with the Giants since 1984, "have been a nomad franchise,"
according to coach Herman Edwards. "We need our own stadium,
obviously. We're the only one of 32 teams that shares a stadium.
It's a little different than any other home venue."

The Manhattan stadium would open for the 2009 season and the NFL
would waive its rule that a team must play at least two seasons in
a stadium before hosting a Super Bowl there.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, a strong supporter of the stadium
and a Super Bowl in New York, said there is no contingency plan
should the arena not be built.

"The plan would be, on the outside chance it didn't go forward
in New York, we would revisit it and re-evaluate and look at
alternative cities," he said.

Bidding on the 2009 Super Bowl is ongoing and the site will be
chosen at the May league meeting in Washington. Tampa, Miami (host
of the 2007 game), Houston and Atlanta are the bidders.