ALBANY, N.Y. -- In a matter of hours, New York City slipped from
being a worthy contender for hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics to a
long shot, contemplating a forfeit.
A state panel denied an essential chunk of funding for a
proposed $2 billion stadium on Manhattan's West Side -- the
centerpiece of the city's bid to host the Olympics. Rules dictate
the city cannot change its proposal, which the International
Olympic Committee is considering along with bids from Paris,
London, Madrid and Moscow. The IOC will choose a host city on July
"We have let America down," Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a stadium
proponent, said Tuesday. "The [U.S. Olympic Committee] selected
us, New York, to represent the country. Other American cities
wanted to have the privilege of competing at the world level."
One day earlier, New York officials were boasting about the Big
Apple's strong chance in the showdown to host the games. The IOC
issued a report Monday morning evaluating each bid, giving Paris,
London, Madrid and New York positive ratings.
But by midafternoon, when lawmakers on the state Public
Authorities Control Board indicated they would not approve $300
million in stadium funding, a clearly disappointed Bloomberg
acknowledged New York's fading hopes and said it was unlikely New
York would be selected without an Olympic stadium guaranteed.
When asked Monday if he would request that the USOC yank New
York from consideration for the IOC's decision next month in
Singapore, Bloomberg said he would discuss the matter with USOC
USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said officials are studying how to
Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, founder of the NYC2012 bid
committee, said the stadium defeat was "deeply disappointing,
especially because it comes on the day when the International
Olympic Committee verified the strength of New York's bid."
While NYC2012 can request to take New York out of the running,
the USOC has final say on whether to pull out. It is considered an
unlikely move, in part because quitting could devastate U.S.
chances at hosting future Olympics for many years.
The sports complex also would have served as a home for the New
York Jets, and the team's president said the setback wasn't the
final chapter in the team's quest to build in Manhattan.
"Four years of hard work and planning will not be washed away
in a single day," Jay Cross said.
The powerful three-member state board -- which comprises
representatives for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Gov. George
Pataki and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno -- shot down the
funding in a vote late Monday afternoon. The board's actions must
be unanimous, and only Pataki's representative voted yes.
Pataki had long supported the proposal for the stadium. Until
Monday's vote, Bruno and Silver said they had serious concerns but
indicated they could be swayed.
In recent weeks, the mayor courted Silver with various economic
development projects in his lower Manhattan district, trying to
convince him that the area devastated by the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks would not be neglected in favor of the stadium.
"Am I to sell out the community I have fought for?" Silver
Bloomberg said Silver mistakenly assumed the two Manhattan
neighborhoods, about 3 miles apart, could not be developed
The stadium plan has spurred fierce debate from the beginning.
Supporters say it will create jobs, stimulate economic activity
and revive a long-ignored swath of Manhattan's far West Side.
Opponents -- including the owner of nearby Madison Square Garden --
question the use of any public money for the project, as well as
the potential environmental and infrastructure problems that come
with a large sports complex.
Bruno said he was willing to let the state board approve the
stadium funding if the IOC approved New York's Olympic bid. He
offered that as an amendment at the PACB meeting, but the motion
failed to gain a second.