Sen. Joe Addabbo wants the Jets back in New York, specifically in Willets Point, Queens.
Addabbo, chair of the NY Senate’s racing, gaming and wagering committee, realizes it is a far-fetched idea at this juncture.
However, with NYCFC set to build a 25,000-seat stadium in Willets Point that could open in 2027, Addabbo wants officials thinking bigger.
He wants them thinking about a 70,000- to 80,000-seat stadium in Queens for Gang Green. The area also could include a casino and an increased presence for NY sports betting.
What Willets Point offers
The 61-acre development project in Willets Point is set to include the soccer stadium, 2,500 affordable housing units, and a hotel.
Is there room for a football stadium as well? Infrastructure and traffic patterns would have to be addressed, especially with nearby Citi Field and a potential casino project next.
“I don’t know if that’s the hurdle you can’t overcome to realize the revenue and jobs that would come with bringing the Jets back,” Addabbo said. “The Jets coming back to New York would be monumental.”
Healthy discussion on Jets
Addabbo, who also wants to push an online casino bill for the 2023 legislative session, also wants to have a discussion about the Jets coming back to the Big Apple.
“If you’re building a stadium — and I know it’s only 25,000 seats — but if you’ve got that kind of incentive to build a stadium, if the opportunity is there with the land and the expiring leases, we can connect the dots, why miss this opportunity?” Addabbo said.
“They’d have their own stadium, a newer, more technologically-advanced stadium, with all-new amenities and everything. To go into a brand-new stadium as the New York Jets and the marketing behind it, that just blows it out of the water.
“And the original residual effect, at least to me, in terms of online sports betting.”
Jets history in NY
At the least, Addabbo wants there to be a conversation.
The Jets played at Shea Stadium from 1964-83 before moving to East Rutherford, NJ in 1984.
They currently share 82,500-seat MetLife Stadium with the Giants. However, the Jets (or Giants) can opt out of the 25-year stadium lease in 2025 if they give the state of New Jersey 12 months notice.
“Personally, it pains me to see the Giants and Jets called the ‘New York Jets’ and ‘New York Giants,’ — even with the Giants having ‘NY’ on their helmets — playing in Jersey,” said Addabbo, who was on the City Council during the failed 2004-05 talks for a West Side stadium for the Jets. “It pains me.”
Jets sports betting impact
Addabbo foresees a possible return of Gang Green further helping the Empire State’s already record-setting online NY sports betting market.
NY is coming off $1.54 billion in online sports betting handle last month. Through Nov. 20, NY online sports betting operators have combined for $14 billion in handle, leading to nearly $600 million in tax revenue.
“Imagine if New Yorkers actually got to bet an an actual New York football club called the New York Jets,” Addabbo said. “I think it’s that much more of an enticing business that we would have for online sports betting.”
Casino plans in New York
Mets owner Steve Cohen has continued lobbying efforts for a downstate casino in the Citi Field parking lot in partnership with Hard Rock through New Green Willets.
Resorts World NYC was in Addabbo’s former district. As chairman of the racing, gaming and wagering committee, Addabbo has been an advocate for Resorts World NYC. The company is a favorite to receive one of the three downstate licenses, along with MGM Empire City.
“I’ll reserve judgment until I see all the submissions,” Addabbo said. “Two in Queens, you’re really going to have to convince the siting board or the gaming commission that long-term this makes sense financially. That it’s not just a novelty. Is it sustainable? I think that’s a hard argument to make.”
New York sports betting tax rate
Caesars CEO Tom Reeg became the latest executive to criticize NY’s 51% tax rate for online sports betting, when he recently told LSR the structure was “ridiculous.”
So far, lobbying and legislative efforts at a reduction while increasing the number of operators have been unsuccessful. Operators knew full-well what they were getting into when bidding on the rate, and they have not been able to change it.
“Somebody has to make a credible, realistic argument that tinkering with the 51% is actually going to benefit the state,” Addabbo said. “Because you look at the success of online sports betting, and you go, ‘well, why would you change it? Why would you tinker with that? It’s so successful.’ You want to add something to it.
“But if we can talk about it — and I think it’s a healthy discussion — whether you do it or not. But the mere discussion of the tax rate or expanding the operators, this is all a healthy discussion to have in terms of how do you improve an already existing product in online sports betting.”