The stupid West Side stadium

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 26, 2005

Amen to Kurt Anderson’s comments about the ridiculous proposal to plop a huge stadium for the Jets on the West Side of Manhattan:

When I asked the Planning Department’s spokesperson why the city needs a stadium for the Jets on that spot, she said it was “essential to jump-start development” in the neighborhood. Really? Essential? Right on the Hudson, immediately north of the successfully renovated Starrett-Lehigh office building and a thriving art neighborhood and Chelsea Piers? “There’s a hole there,” she said, referring to the MTA yards over which the stadium would be built. Holes can be filled in lots of other ways when they’re adjacent to living urban tissue, albeit not as quickly. Well, she said, the stadium—that is, the New York Sports and Convention Center—is the best option on the table.

With the stadium, what they’re doing is replacing one hole with another higher priced hole (with football!). But what’s the alternative?

But why not, as the transmogrified High Line helps propagate the Tribecafication of the adjacent blocks, imagine a tightly woven extension of the southern and eastern neighborhoods into the rail-yards site? Why not build apartments and hotels and theaters, a better, funkier Battery Park City? Or a big park? Or the second Guggenheim Museum? Or a campus for New School University? Why can’t this city assemble a brilliant team of designers and entrepreneurs to dream up a thrilling new piece of New York—people with as much visionary gusto as, say, the man who started a new kind of digital data and news company a quarter-century ago? It wouldn’t be finished in five years, because creating great new places that people are eager to visit and live in is not easy or fast. But wouldn’t it be better to be driven by the ambition to create a 21st-century Rockefeller Center than by a deadline to hold the 2010 Super Bowl and a 2012 torch-lighting ceremony?

Putting that stadium where they want to put it seems to me like sticking one of those huge outdoor gas grills in the middle of your bathroom. However yummy the food that’s made with it, that grill isn’t going to turn my bathroom into a kitchen and is only going to interfere with the proper operation of the bathroom (my dream of cooking a meal while showering as a time-saving technique notwithstanding). Like Anderson, I’ll be pulling for some other city to win the 2012 Olympic Games this summer. Anything to get another chunk of New York City breathing comfortably again.