Subpar New Meadowlands Stadium Stinks of Corruption

I would like to just briefly drift away from ‘the world’s game’ and draw attention to the fishy nature behind New Jersey’s latest eyesore, the New Meadowlands Stadium. The New Meadowlands Stadium was built as a replacement for the old neighboring Giants Stadium. Shortly after New York’s failed bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics (and inadvertently the failure of the construction of the NFL’s New York Jets solely owned Manhattan stadium), the Jets teamed up with city rivals New York Giants to build a new venue from scratch. Having shared the old Giants Stadium for decades, sharing this new stadium was not a new concept for the two teams. The teams agreed to split costs and ultimately signed a contract with Swedish development company, Skanska AB. After winning the rights to building the stadium Skanska assessed the project at $998 million, making it their biggest project to date. But final estimates suggest that the cost was much larger than that, nearing a whopping $1.6 billion to complete construction and making it the world’s most expensive stadium. Despite the massive cost and being located in one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas, the New Meadowlands Stadium is hardly spectacular.

The New Meadowlands Stadium was the last constructed member in what I like to call the” trifecta of world stadiums”, built during this past decade; the other two being London’s Wembley Stadium and Dallas’s New Cowboys Stadium. All three had their fair share of construction complexities, had cost over $1 million to build, and are located in metropolitan areas of over 1 million people (the New Yankee Stadium also fulfilled this criteria but since I highly doubt a soccer game will ever be played at that venue, I tend to leave it out). Out of the three, many will agree that the most awe-inspiring is the Cowboys Stadium. With a fully retractable roof, a kind of pointless retractable ” glass door”, and the world’s largest HDTV, Cowboys fans get the ultimate fan experience. Jerry Jones and co. paid a hefty $1.3 billion for this Texas gem.

The other notable stadium is the home of football itself, the reconstructed Wembley Stadium in London. I would say that Wembley’s case is most similar to that of the New Meadowlands’ in the sense that it took forever to get the project to get going and the venues themselves did not meet fans’ expectations. Likewise both projects each ended up costing nearly $1.6 billion making them substantially more expensive than the Cowboys’ new stadium. The question is, for such mediocre stadiums like the Meadowlands, why the price tag?

Out of sheer curiosity, I decided to pull up the budgets for all three projects and really try to see what the hell these poor sports fans are paying for. Turns out that finding these documents online are much more difficult than I would have imagined. I wasn’t surprised that the Cowboys Stadium budget was the first one that I was able to find (I mean it only that the state that’s run by fiscally sound Republicans and not crooks was going to have their act together). Although Wembley did not publish as detailed of a breakdown, they were able to at least briefly sum up in a pathetic five lines how the budget was split up. As for the Meadowlands Stadium, there was hardly any data available regarding construction costs.

After doing some research it seemed that there were two main reasons for why the cost of the New Jersey stadium boomed from under $1 million to $1.6 million. The first was the sudden rise in steal costs. According to one article, construction managers ran out of steel midway through the project. Now I have no idea how you underestimate such a seemingly intuitive cost, but ultimately its the New Jersey taxpayer that gets screwed. Even though the new stadium was financed with solely Jets and Giants money, many forget that the New Jersey tax payers are still paying for the predecessor, Giants Stadium. What’s scarier than that is that peoples’ pension funds are invested in the Meadowlands Complex despite experiencing a serious cash drainage in the past several years. The second reason for such a high cost resulted in efforts to make the stadium one of the world’s most environmentally friendly (and the delusional Libs must have gotten what they wanted…). Despite not having any financial data disclosed online, I was able to find plenty of info on how the stadium is built from recycled material and developed on a rehabilitated piece of land (whatever that means). In the end you have a barren stadium that looks like a “stack of CDs” without hardly any sort of modern day bolts and whistles. How the hell New Jersey got away with this one is a mystery to me but I would imagine there was a lot of sketchy stuff that went on in order to finalize the project. Yeah, I’m talking to you NJSEA (New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority). The organization has long been in millions of dollars in debt, yet it still oversees the Meadowlands Complex and pretty much has monopolistic control over all other New Jersey entertainment venues. Despite the debt, NJSEA has absolutely minimal transparency. Last year Senator Barbara Buono of Middlesex County expressed her frustration over NJSEA’s finances yet the organization continues to go back to the state for more and more money. I’m sure NJSEA was able to get away with it by cheating New Jersey legislators and focusing on the “future profits” that could be made from having such a venue (i.e. Super Bowl, World Cup, etc.), or something along those lines that is beyond me.

In the end, corruption-prone New Jersey got blindsided with a mediocre slab of steel that looks like a slightly revamped version of the old Giants Stadium. Heck if I was Sepp Blatter and I was told that the final of the 2022 World Cup was going to be played at the New Meadowlands Stadium, I’d give the World Cup to Qatar too.

P.S. It’s also about time they sold the naming rights to someone. Writing “New Meadowlands Stadium” every other line is just freaking annoying.

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