By Mayor Bloomberg
Thanksgiving is only a few days away. This is a time for all of us to think about how lucky we are to have our health, our friends, and our family. We are also lucky to live in the worldʼs greatest city and the safest big city in America. Our schools are improving, our unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level in more than 30 years and our neighborhoods are stronger than ever. And this year, New York baseball fans have something extra special to be thankful for: Both the Mets and Yankees have begun building new stadiums.
We officially broke ground on a brand new, spectacular ballpark for the Amazinʼ Mets last week. For 44 years, this has been a franchise thatʼs fully embraced its hometown. Thatʼs true whether itʼs the skyline emblazoned on their logo or their long tradition of contributing to the community. And now, by teaming up with Citigroup – another one of New Yorkʼs greatest institutions and the largest employer in Queens – they are giving us a 21st Century “Field of Dreams.”
The newly-named Citi Field looks like a winner from any seat in the house. For starters, it will pay tribute to the gameʼs past – with a design that echoes the intimate feel of the old Ebbets Field and a statue of New York sports great and civil rights hero, Jackie Robinson. The stadium also will embrace the future – by combining all the comfort and amenities of todayʼs modern ballparks to give players and fans the ultimate sports experience.
Best of all, the new ballpark, which is scheduled to open in 2009, will be completely privately funded. The Mets will also be responsible for meeting the costs of maintenance – something which the City, as the owner of the existing stadium, currently covers. Thatʼs going to relieve us from spending hundreds of millions of dollars over the coming years on the stadiumʼs upkeep.
The City and the State will be contributing about $166 million towards the projectʼs infrastructure, but this is an investment which will benefit Queens for decades to come. Thatʼs because the new stadium is part of our drive to bring jobs to neighboring Flushing and Willets Point. In Flushing, weʼve helped spur a $500 million project that soon will revitalize the heart of downtown. And in Willets Point, weʼre moving full steam ahead to turn a rusting industrial area full of auto body shops into a community jewel – full of parks, housing, and shops. All of this will mean new jobs and opportunity for thousands of New Yorkers and it will give another big boost to an economy thatʼs already booming.
The future of Flushing and Willets point has never been brighter. And the same could be said for the Mets. They were such an exciting team to watch last season, and theyʼve laid the foundation to continue thrilling New Yorkers for many years to come. And I hope that in the not too distant future, Willie Randolph and the guys will be celebrating the first of many World Championships in their new home.