The controversial plan for a massive West Side development—including a stadium for the Jets, and perhaps for the 2012 Olympics—may be approaching a do-or-die moment. With a series of hearings on the plan set for June, foes are mobilizing rapidly. Backers (the Jets, City Hall) are worried that public opposition will turn undecided politicos against the proposal—and perhaps doom New York’s bid for the 2012 Games.
Now, at this critical juncture, a coalition of powerful unions and trade associations from the city’s construction and hotel industries is launching a $350,000 TV ad campaign in support of the project, which includes a 75,000-seat stadium, a new business and commercial district, and an expanded Javits Center.
The 30-second TV spot—set to run on local broadcast and cable channels for a month beginning May 17—opens with images of an Olympic torchbearer, then cuts to the Jets running a play. An enthusiastic narrator intones, “Major conventions and events like the Super Bowl. And thousands of good-paying jobs for the real champions of our city—the men and women who build New York.” The screen fills with urban images: construction workers, straphangers, a cop on the beat. The voice-over concludes: “A winner for taxpayers. A winner for working families. A winner for New York’s future.”
Opponents in the war over the $5 billion plan—Broadway-theater owners, local pols, community groups—say it’s being unfairly subsidized with hundreds of millions in public funds and predict a traffic apocalypse.
The ad blitz is the first time in memory that unions and management have joined to bankroll a TV campaign for a big capital project. It’s being paid for by the Building & Construction Trades Council and the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council (labor), as well as the Building Trades Employers Association and the New York Building Congress (management). And clearly the images are meant to exert pressure on pols wary of antagonizing unions. “These are middle-income jobs,” says ad producer Hank Sheinkopf. “They’re important to the city’s comeback.”