Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Teams Called Foes of Taxpayers

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Teams Called Foes of Taxpayers

Article excerpt

The Giants and Jets faced a barrage of criticism Monday over their lawsuit seeking to prevent a revival of the American Dream Meadowlands complex, with the would-be developer and political leaders saying the long-dormant $3.7 billion project would create thousands of badly needed jobs for the region.

"The lawsuit filed by the professional sports teams is an insult to every New Jerseyan who hoped to find work at American Dream Meadowlands," said Alan Marcus, a spokesman for Triple Five, the developer. "It is an assault on the taxpayers of New Jersey who would benefit from the revenue to be generated by this complex."

Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan pointed to a 40 percent unemployment rate in the area's building trades, adding that the National Football League teams "have put Bergen County's economic growth at risk."

"[American Dream] will create an economic ripple with service jobs and venues including hotels, which will pay additional taxes," Donovan said in a statement.

And East Rutherford Mayor James Cassella said those who would gain employment from the project "are many of the same people who paid thousands of dollars to buy personal seat licenses for the Giants and Jets."

The salvos against the teams came just five days shy of the 10th anniversary of the date when the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority formally asked real estate developers for proposals to redevelop what was then the Continental Arena site.

A spokesman for the Sports Authority declined to comment Monday, as did a spokeswoman for the Giants and Jets.

Triple Five has been trying to finalize plans this summer for nearly $2 billion in financing while also gaining the last environmental permits required to revive construction.

The developers have said portions of the retail sector could open before the end of 2013, although their planned indoor water and amusement parks would not be operating in time for the February 2014 Super Bowl. Triple Five, which runs the Mall of America in Minnesota, revealed plans last year to add the water and amusement parks in a 639,000-square-foot expansion that would connect to the partially built entertainment and retail complex.

The 19-page lawsuit by the Giants and Jets, filed Friday in state Superior Court, requests an injunction to prevent a resumption of construction on the stalled project. The teams cited a 2006 settlement of a previous suit that requires their written consent before the project developers can go ahead with modifications that "would have an adverse effect" on the game-day experience of football fans.

The lawsuit predicts that the project would "clog the complex's already congested transportation networks and create a transportation nightmare."

Triple Five officials have countered that any traffic increase would be negligible, in part because of extensive use by patrons of a $185 million rail link to the Meadowlands Sports Complex that opened in 2009. …

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