Times Interviews Its Idea of an Unbiased Source: The Landlord Jets Are Planning to Walk out on
Let me say right off the bat that I want to apologize to Charles V. Bagli of The New York Times. Here I took Bagli to be a poison pen artist out to bring down the West Side stadium plan, and it turns out he's a humor writer. Who but a humorist would go to “the Jets' landlord at the Meadowlands” for a quote on this subject? That's like asking Dick Chaney what he thinks of John Kerry as a candidate for President. (Charles Bagli, New York Times, April 12, 2004)
This guy, by the name of Zoffinger (as an aid to memory, it rhymes with zoftig), who would love to keep us schlepping out to his under-staffed, non-union stadium in the swamp, the site of many a thrilling one-hour-or-more traffic gridlock (and where, if you're on the Jets' side of the field and some rinky-dink band comes out at halftime, it plays the entire concert with its back to you – but don't get me started) – this unbiased individual comes through with a grand quote for the Times: the Manhattan stadium will be so expensive that “only 75,000 investment bankers and no fans will be able to afford it.”
Oh, yeah? Wanna bet that Fireman Ed and his thousands of buddies won't be out there? (2) Wanna bet that Fireman Ed and his thousands of buddies are not investment bankers?
Hey, this price spiral is what's going on; nobody likes it except the players and their fat cat agents. If you're going to pay these guys millions of dollars apiece and it's a 45-man squad, prices have to go up. What do we pay now for the average Jet ticket, 75 bucks? (I once paid $2 to see such as the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers of the AAC in Yankee Stadium.) One of this website's volunteers went to a Nets game recently, and was shocked that the ticket was $95, “and it wasn't even at courtside!” And that was for a basketball game, for God's sake – they play 40-some of those at home, in contrast to 8 Jets games. That would make a bounce-and-dunk ball season ticket cost about four thousand dollars – and that's before they start really milking it and bleeding you dry with Everybody-gets-into-the-playoffs.
That's our beloved pro sports today. We're stuck with it.
[A quick aside to C.V.B. – the rest of you needn't read this. The Jets aren't walking “a tightrope” between telling Manhattan bankers one thing and government officials another, they're walking a fine line. Also, sorry, but taxpayers won't pay for 43 percent of the projected cost, they will pay 43 percent. Don't you fellows have a copy desk over there?]
While I'm being unkind to him (he's only echoing the company line) I have to say that Bagli, a good reporter, did write a long and quite responsible analysis of the picture on April 12 – it's just that it comes with attitude, an attitude that reflects the apparent bias of the Times against the stadium.
He goes into the subject of the ever-growing, odious trend toward luxury suites, where the Louis XVI's of today, with their Marie Antoinettes, can pay obscene amounts to wash down their paté de foie gras with goblets of champagne as they gaze out at the battle of the muscular millionaires over the heads of us common folk. This grossly un-American phenomenon, however, turns out to represent a step toward solving the financing problem through the expected sale of 240 of those rich folks' romper rooms. Bagli reports that they sell for $137,500 a season at the Meadowlands, and projects that the Jets will price them at $220,000 in Manhattan . (He points out that nine of the Meadowlands luxury suites went unsold – does he really think you couldn't sell those suites, many times over, in Manhattan , where the producers of “The Producers” are getting an outrageous $430 a seat from rich suckers?)
In that soak-the-rich area, the Jets' idea of 11,000 plush box seats at God knows how high a price is OK if we face the fact that there may well not be 75,000 regular fans ready to pay the increased Manhattan price, so now we only need 64,000 of us ordinary folk.
To his credit, Bagli does quote Jets president Jay Cross as saying the team will build the stadium on the backs of “high rollers” and advertisers rather than taxpayers and “loyal seat fans.” He further quotes Cross to the effect that regular seat prices would keep pace with the Meadowlands prices rather than soaring.
Finally, it's a damn silly practice of some newspapers, including the august Times, to set the type on stories that involve expression of opinion flush left, ragged right, meaning that the right hand margin is uneven, rather than straight, or “justified” – I say damn silly because most of the public has no inkling of this arcane inside stuff. (The pieces written by the Times sports tv critic Sandomir, for example, are ragged right.) Point of all this: Mr. Bagli's stories are set justified.
But they aren't written that way.
– Tom McMorrow, Sr.
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