EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., -- The New York Football Giants asked a court today to block construction of the Xanadu project at the Meadowlands and to direct the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to live up to its contractual obligation to provide the Giants and their fans a state-of-the-art stadium.
"Under our lease agreement with the NJSEA, the State is obligated to provide us with a state-of-the-art stadium. Instead it has consciously consigned the Giants to play in, and our fans to occupy, a stadium that is more state-of-decline than state-of-the-art," said John K. Mara, Executive Vice President of the Giants. "We were given no choice but to assert our rights under our lease."
According to the complaint filed today with the Superior Court in Bergen County, as more than 20 NFL stadiums have been built or substantially renovated since 1995, the 30-year old Giants Stadium has fallen far behind most NFL football stadia in terms of playing and practice facilities, infrastructure and fan amenities. Among the state-of-the-art features it lacks are up-to-date training and practice facilities, ample retail, concourse and concession space, sufficient premium seating, the latest sound and video technology and adequate restroom facilities.
"The NJSEA also disregarded its contractual obligations to us when it authorized the Xanadu developers to begin construction," said Steve Tisch, representative of the Tisch family ownership. "We are asking the court to stop this so that the issues we have with the project can be resolved in conformity with our rights under our lease. If we do not protect the rights granted to us by the NJSEA in our lease, our fans will suffer."
In its complaint, the Giants point out that the Xanadu project, as currently planned, will create gridlock at the stadium, interfere with the stadium's pedestrian walkways and eliminate surface parking dedicated for the exclusive use of Giants fans, all in violation of the rights expressly granted to the Giants in their existing lease.
Today's court action takes place several weeks after a proposed deal for a new 100% privately financed state-of-the-art stadium fell apart when the State sought to add a provision for taxing stadium luxury suites – which would have undermined the ability to privately pay for the new stadium – and demanded an immediate sign-off from the Giants on the Xanadu project without addressing the team's concerns over its negative impact.
The demands came despite the considerable benefits of the new stadium plan to the State. Under that plan, the State would have been relieved of its current burden of operating, maintaining and improving the stadium – an operation that, according to figures provided by the State's financial advisors, will lose more than $10 million dollars per year, as opposed to earning the mythical profits claimed by the state (see attached exhibit). In contrast, the State would have received $6.3 million per-year in rent under the new stadium deal.
Giants affiliates would have paid for the demolition and repaving of the old stadium and, in its place built – using entirely private funds – a new $750 million home for the Giants in the Meadowlands, including all required on-site infrastructure improvements. The only financial burden assumed by the state would have been to provide $20-$30 million of off-site infrastructure improvements, which cost would have been offset by $27 million in one-time fiscal tax benefits from the construction of the new stadium. A report of a Giants' consultant, Conventions Sports & Leisure (CSL), projected that the new stadium would also have generated incremental fiscal benefits to the State of $12.5-20 million per year. In contrast, the state-of-the-art obligations under the current lease, even according to NJSEA's own financial advisors, could cost the State tens of millions of additional dollars per year.
"The State is in violation of it's obligation under this lease," said Mr. Mara and Mr. Tisch. "Looking forward, there are only three possibilities:
• The State fulfills its obligation and upgrades the stadium, at taxpayer expense;
• the State agrees to terms that allow us to privately finance a new stadium, at no taxpayer expense; or
• we will have no choice but to respond to what the State is really telling us: Giants, find a new home."