For a better part of 60 years, the New York Jets have never had a stadium to call their own. Since 1984, they have the Meadowlands of New Jersey home. Once upon a time, the Jets almost had a stadium to call home in New York City and it would have been host to the 2012 Olympic Games.
It all started in 2000…
New York City was bidding alongside four European cities for the right to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Future mayor Michael Bloomberg had aspirations of hosting the Olympic Games in New York City. This was after seeing the success of the 1994 FIFA World Cup. New York State hosted the Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid (1932 and 1980), but the City has never hosted. This bid was their big opportunity and it centered around a stadium on Manhattan’s West Side.
New York City had (and still has) a plethora of facilities to host Olympic events. However, the piece-de-resistance would be a facility worthy of hosting the Olympics. The Jets were ready to finance the majority ($800M) of the $1.2B Olympic stadium project. The city and state would share $300M each for building costs and a retractable roof. The Jets would be the primary tenant of the stadium which would have opened in 2008. It would serve as the home for the opening and closing ceremonies, track and field, and the gold medal game in soccer.
But what if West Side Stadium get built? Three things happen if it does.
1. New York City hosts the 2012 Olympic Games.
To go along with the political shenanigans, there was outside opposition from Cablevision owner James Dolan. He initially approved of West Side Stadium right up until he found out the location. The stadium would be built a few blocks from Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall. He later opposed the project because he thought he would lose concert revenue to the new stadium. Dolan’s shortsightedness, though, prevented him from seeing that he would also likely see some of that sweet Olympic lucre. MSG would have hosted the men’s basketball and boxing tournaments if New York City won the bid. I imagine that the IOC has had nocturnal emissions dreaming of an Olympic Games in New York City and the opportunity would have been lucrative. An Olympic stadium would have all but assured a bid win. But the state being the state and Dolan being Dolan dashed that dream.
2. New York City hosts Super Bowl XLIV.
Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue promised that New York City would host a Super Bowl. The only contingency was if a new stadium was built. It wouldn’t take place at the Meadowlands. Giants Stadium was nearly 30 years old, so a stadium built in New York City would have been ideal. The state of New York would have footed the bill for a retractable roof to ensure no fear of the elements ruining the experience. With the project was scrapped, Miami eventually won the right to host Super Bowl XLIV. The area did eventually host Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. However, the game didn’t possess the kind of energy that West Side Stadium would have generated.
3. The Jets get their own home stadium.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the Jets have never had a true home to call their own. They have shared the Polo Grounds, Shea Stadium, Giants Stadium, and MetLife Stadium. But the approval of West Side Stadium would have given the Jets a genuine home. West Side Stadium would have been a huge selling point for potential free agents. The Jets would be THE team in New York. (Yes, Buffalo Bills fans, I know your team plays in New York, too. But the Bills don’t technically play IN Buffalo. See, we can play the geographical snobbery game, too.)
The land where the stadium would have been built on still sits empty rail yard. It’s currently being used by the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project. What would have been a home for the Jets is now luxury apartments and posh shopping. Maybe someday the Jets will have a home and New York City will host the Olympic Games with a stadium that makes New York City proud.
Until then, we fans will keep dreaming of a place the Jets can truly call “home field advantage.”