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'No' on stadium leaves New York's 2012 bid in jeopardy


CHICAGO - New York's bid to be the host of the 2012 Summer Olympics has run aground on a $2.2 billion riverside stadium plan that for months looked too treacherous to navigate through a multi-step approval process.

Ten hours after yesterday's release of an International Olympic Committee candidate evaluation report reminding the city that uncertainty over the Olympic stadium was the lone but crucial negative factor in its bid, a state board rejected the $300 million state subsidy for the stadium on Manhattan's West Side.

"You cannot have a glaring weakness with your most important venue and hope to triumph," said Dan Doctoroff, founder of NYC2012, the city's Olympic bid committee.

It is unclear whether New York will try to come up with an alternative stadium plan. NYC2012 spokesman Laz Benitez said the bid would not be withdrawn before the July 6 IOC vote for the 2012 host, as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had threatened if the stadium plan were rejected.

To the question of whether New York's Olympic bid was history, Gov. George E. Pataki, a stadium backer, said: "I certainly hope not. We will talk to the mayor and Olympic officials to see where we go from here. I'm not going to speculate what the next step will be. It's just very disappointing."

Even had the stadium funding been approved, New York would have remained a long shot, especially after the IOC evaluation commission report further boosted Paris' role as the favorite in a contest also including London, Madrid and Moscow.

Paris, which received the few superlatives in the report, was made a 1-4 choice by British bookmaker William Hill. Before the stadium vote, London was listed at 11-4, New York 12-1, Madrid 33-1 and Moscow 100-1.

New York's bid leaders never have publicly considered alternatives to the West Side plan - such as a stadium in Queens - for a facility that would be used as an Olympic stadium, convention center and home of the NFL's New York Jets. The NFL has awarded the 2010 Super Bowl to New York, contingent on the building of the stadium.

Bloomberg has been pushing the stadium as the key part of a $7.5 billion redevelopment project for an area largely occupied by railroad yards.

The plans were dealt a severe blow early yesterday afternoon when New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said at a news conference he would not support the stadium funding.

Silver is among three members of the state's Public Authorities Control Board, from which a unanimous vote was needed as the final step in approval.

Silver based his objections on the feeling the stadium would divert funding and attention from rebuilding the World Trade Center area in Lower Manhattan that was devastated by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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