Cablevision offered $600 million for rail yard property on the Hudson River west of midtown Manhattan, where a proposed stadium may rise, but the New York Jets dismissed Cablevision's bid as a sham to block them. Cablevision delivers television subscription services for greater New York City, and after the bid for property, the company said it would run anti-stadium ads.
The stadium is key to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's bid to win the 2012 Summer Olympics for New York. Cablevision owns Madison Square Garden, a two-block walk from where the proposed stadium would be, but the new facility might steal away business. Cablevision owns the NBA Knicks and NHL's Ranger, both teams play at Madison Square Garden.
According to documents filed by attorneys for the New York Jets, the suit says Cablevision illegally maintained its monopolies in the markets for enclosed large-scale spectator events and the rental of private spectator suites in Manhattan to control prices and exclude competition.
Media relations for Cablevision would not comment on the lawsuit. The New York Jets accuse Cablevision of false and misleading campaigns against the franchise, monopolizing the market for cable viewers in New York, and for silencing the team's management from attempting to set the record straight.
New York Jets' president Jay Cross said, "While we regret that it has become necessary to resort to litigation, Cablevision's egregious actions, which have intensified over the past several weeks, have forced us to take this step to enforce our rights and to protect our ability to communicate with all New Yorkers about the benefits of the Sports and Convention Center.
Cross said the lawsuit is not about the growing controversy around a new stadium planned on the west side of Manhattan. "In the coming weeks, we plan to show New Yorkers how committed we are to building a facility that will introduce price competition into the market, while bringing thousands of jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars of tax revenues, and hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity and development to New York City," he said.
The plan, yet to be fully discussed, is expected to draw overwhelming support, according to Cross. So far, 6 in 10 Manhattanites oppose the stadium, and 2 in 10 support building the facility, although a majority of residents support hosting the 2012 Olympic Games.
At the heart of the controversy though is the ability to share ownership of Manhattan entertainment space. New York Jet's co-counsel, Marc Kasowitz, said, "Cablevision has for years been able to reap excessive profits from the monopoly power it wields at the expense of Manhattan consumers and businesses. To protect its monopolies, Cablevision has waged an illegal campaign based on distortions and outright lies , a campaign that has been characterized in the media as worthy of prosecution."
By using its own cable broadcast resources, Kasowitz says efforts to get his client's message heard are blocked.
David Boies, co-counsel for the Jets, said "Cablevision lobbed in a sham bid at the 11th hour to purchase the West Side site for a mixed-use residential real estate development. At a time when Cablevision's own business is in disarray, it is clear that its intentions are solely to prevent the Jets from developing an arena that could compete with Cablevision's monopolies and in doing so placed in jeopardy Jet fans' rights to have a home field, hundreds of millions of dollars of tax revenue for New York City and thousands of jobs for New Yorkers."
Kasowitz and Boies practice for Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP. The New York Jets seek compensatory and punitive damages as well as an injunction preventing Cablevision from continuing to engage in anti-competitive practices.
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