Cost of Meadowlands stadium balloons to $1.4 billion

NEWARK, N.J. -- The price of the new football stadium for
the New York Giants and New York Jets has risen by $600 million to
$1.4 billion.

"Costs continue to go up," said Alice McGillion, a spokeswoman
for New Meadowlands Stadium Corp., a company that represents the
team owners.

The teams awarded a contract to Swedish construction company
Skanska AB, which said Friday it had received a $998 million order
to design and build the open-air stadium at the Meadowlands sports
complex in East Rutherford, N.J.

"It shows the continued momentum and we are on the timeline
that we need to be for a 2010 opening," McGillion said Friday.

The teams, which announced the joint venture in 2005, originally
estimated costs at about $800 million.

The stadium will seat 82,000 spectators and include 217 luxury
suite boxes, Skanska spokesman Peter Gimbe said. McGillion said the
number of seats could change, depending on the final design.

Skanska said that the contract, with the Meadowlands NFL
Football Stadium LLC, was its largest U.S. contract yet. The
company will include it in its order bookings in the first quarter.

Skanska has constructed several major stadiums in the U.S.,
including Reliant Stadium in Houston and Gillette Stadium in
Boston. It is working on the new Yankee Stadium in New York.

"Skanska has in recent years proven itself to be among the
leading sports stadium-builders in the world and has shown a great
affinity and understanding of the U.S. market," said Giants
president John Mara.

McGillion said the teams expect to unveil exterior plans for the
stadium in late February or early March, with a groundbreaking in
late spring or early summer.

In December, the teams got a big boost from NFL owners, who
approved a $300 million loan to help fund the stadium.

"[Skanska is] up to the challenge and will help us reach our
objective of delivering a truly extraordinary facility for our
fans, one that will set new standards for the NFL and indeed for
stadiums around the world," Jets owner Woody Johnson said.

The project is going through the approval process with the state
of New Jersey.

The state Department of Environmental Protection and the
Meadowlands Commission expect a final environmental impact study of
the project in February. The approval of the stadium plan could
come in March.

The teams will pay $5 million annually to lease land at the
Meadowlands from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.
Once the new stadium is built, the authority will no longer collect
10 percent of gross ticket sales from games.

The state isn't paying for the stadium's construction but will
continue to pay debt on the old stadium, about $120 million.