Relations have worsened to the point where the two National Football League (N.F.L.) teams brought in their respective lawyers last month to settle which team would get to use their current home, Giants Stadium, on the Thursday night before Labor Day weekend for the final summer preseason game.
The Giants will play the New England Patriots on that Thursday, while the Jets will play the following day at Giants Stadium against the Philadelphia Eagles. Both teams coveted the Thursday date, due to the fact that it would allow for 10 days rest before the start of the regular season on September 10.
Differences rooted in design and demeanor
Several football industry executives, who commented anonymously for fear of jeopardizing their relationships with the respective teams, stated that the disagreements between the two teams come down to a fundamental difference over the new stadium's design, a divide rooted in many ways in the teams' divergent histories.
The Giants are one of the oldest N.F.L. teams, having originated in 1925. The Jets, on the other hand, were part of the upstart American Football League, taking the field in 1960.
At the end of the 1960's, the two leagues merged, and by 1984, the two teams were somewhat uncomfortably sharing the same field at Giants Stadium. After a planned new Jets stadium on the West Side of Manhattan failed to materialize, then acting Gov. Richard Codey managed to broker a last-minute deal between the two teams in late September 2005 that kept the two teams in the Garden State and in the same building.
However, it is the final nature of what this building will be that has the two franchises at loggerheads.
The Giants, befitting their more staid image, want a more traditional and less expensive stadium where the focus in on football rather than advertising. The flashier Jets want a more high-teach glass-and-steel structure that would be filled with an array of electronic scoreboards and signs that would allow sponsors many options for spreading their names.
These differences are not just aesthetic. While the estimated cost of the new 80,000 seat stadium was $800 million, new projections based on the competing designs come in at somewhere between $1 billion and $1.2 billion. The two teams hope to begin playing in the new stadium by 2010, but ongoing design disagreements could delay its completion.
Giants co-owner plans to stay the course
In an earlier interview, John Mara, the co-owner of the Giants, admitted that the teams are at odds over certain important issues, but also stated that he remains confident that a new joint stadium will be ready in time for the 2010-2011 season.
"We've agreed on so much so far, and we agree on many more things than we disagree on," he said. "We'd all like it if the process would move along faster, but this is such a complicated process and there are so many decisions to be made, it's inevitable you're going to have some disagreements."
Jets owner Woody Johnson noted that a major problem between the team is rooted in numbers.
"Cost is an issue. It's a major issue," he said. "I think we both want a stadium that serves the fans both now and in the future."
Local officials try to steer clear of dispute
Officials with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the state regulatory agency that operates the Meadowlands Sports Complex, stated that they have stayed out of the disagreements up to this point. The NJSEA maintains that they have concentrated on concluding negotiations on the state's development agreement with the two teams.
Carl Goldberg, chairman of the NJSEA, said that these discussions are completed and that a draft of the deal has been sent to Governor Jon Corzine for approval.
"Our focus has been the traffic and the parking agreement and the building's relationship with the plans for Xanadu," Goldberg said, referring to the huge entertainment and retail center being built at the Meadowlands. "From where I stand, I'm thinking everything is where I wish it to be."
Other observers, such as Marc Ganis, a leading stadium consultant, believe that the stadium will ultimately be where it's supposed to be.
"They both need the new facility and they are unlikely to get them in other locations," Ganis said. "So they need each other, they need to work together, and they will."
Phil Mushnick, a New York Post sportswriter and a New Jersey resident, hopes that the two teams do work together.
"As a New Jersey taxpayer, they better," he said. "They now charge me $15 to park in the lot that I paved."