New Jersey draws up plan on ballpark to lure Yankees


NEW YORK -- The state of New Jersey, already home to what used to be New York's two professional football teams, has drawn up a proposal to build a 50,000-seat baseball stadium in the Meadowlands sports complex for the Yankees, state officials have reported.

One official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named, but who is familiar with the plans of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, said that the authority was "definitely interested" in having the Yankees in New Jersey.

But the official added that the authority, an independent agency that owns and operates the Meadowlands complex, does not want to be seen as trying to steal the Yankees from their home in the South Bronx.

As a result, the authority does not want to make a formal proposal to the team's owner, George Steinbrenner, until Steinbrenner publicly declares that he is considering moving the team to New Jersey.

Even so, Steinbrenner met with the head of the sports authority, Michael Francis, late last month, according to a person close to Steinbrenner, and Steinbrenner is aware of the Meadowlands proposal.

Still, the sides appear to be circling each other in a dance in which neither wants to be seen as too vigorously pursuing the other. And New York City officials say that until Steinbrenner crosses off the South Bronx, nobody else wants to, either.

The proposal to build a new stadium at the Meadowlands is only the latest move in a tangled debate over of the future of the Yankees and its home in the South Bronx.

Steinbrenner, whose lease with the city expires in the year 2002, has rejected numerous proposals by New York for improvements to Yankee Stadium, including new parking facilities and a new facade.

The person close to Steinbrenner said the team owner probably would like to remain in New York but also is attracted to the economic reality New Jersey presents.

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