The battle over the American Dream project continues. The New York Jets and Giants filed a lawsuit to try to stop developers from expanding the scope of the project and developer Triple Five has sued the sports teams, accusing them of trying to keep American Dream closed forever. Project Spokesman Alan Marcus told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he believes the teams object to the project because they want a monopoly on entertainment dollars.
Marcus said while the NFL teams have been uncooperative in the process, the state has been a true partner in creating the entertainment facility, which is scheduled to include an indoor ski slope and indoor amusement park. He said calling the facility a mall isn’t an accurate depiction. “This is not Paramus Park or the Garden State Plaza. This is truly a tourist attraction. It is a place that people are going to come, be able to spend the day,” he said.
According to Marcus, the sports teams are objecting to the project because they want a monopoly on the sports complex and it has nothing to do with traffic. “This has to do with 35,000 new jobs in New Jersey generating $7 billion in payroll over the next 20 years, a billion dollars in sales taxes, $600 million in income taxes, $90 million in hotel taxes, $200 million in corporate taxes. That’s a tremendous economic generator, the largest in the metropolitan area,” he said.
Marcus said the former developers for the project signed an agreement with the Jets and Giants that allowed MetLife Stadium and the new facility to go forward. In return, the teams got $15 million from the developers and agreed to cooperate in the process, he explained. “They breached that agreement,” he said.
Part of the agreement stated that if there were traffic problems, they would be resolved. And that was based on 2004 standards. “Since 2004, nearly a billion dollars of transportation improvements have been made to that area, including a train, direct access from the Turnpike, direct access from Route 3 — a billion dollars contributed by public agencies, the developers. Not one nickel from the teams,” Marcus said.
Marcus said traffic won’t be a mess for people traveling in the area on game day. “More than 10,000 people today come to Jets and Giants games by train. Many of our visitors are gonna come by train. On game days, we don’t have shopping because of the Blue Laws in Bergen County. So you do not have a tremendous influx of shoppers,” he said.
According to Marcus, there are traffic problems on game day because all the fans leave the stadium at the same time. “We give an alternative to that. Thirty-nine percent of the Jet and Giant fans we polled in a very scientific survey said that they would visit American Dream Meadowlands before and after games,” he said, adding they will continue their entertainment experience and lessen the traffic.
The developer is ready to go forward with the project and Marcus predicts construction will begin in August. He said it will not be ready for the 2014 Super Bowl, but said residents should expect construction to take between 18 and 24 months. Even if the courts haven’t ruled on lawsuits, Marcus believes construction will begin as planned. He doesn’t expect the courts to prevent the project from moving forward in the meantime.