Cobug to reopen discussions with meeting skedded for next week

Politicians aren’t the only ones who can flip-flop. The Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds will hold a Wednesday meeting to possibly reconsider its neutral position on the subject of the proposed Jets Stadium.

On Thursday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. George Pataki unveiled plans for the 75,000-seat stadium, to be built on the west side of Manhattan. They estimated the cost at $1.4 billion for the stadium and another $1.4 billion for the expansion of the Javits Convention Center next door.

A few blocks north, Broadway’s movers and shakers have taken a dim view of the project, but the theater community has hardly presented a unified front on the issue.

Neutral position

On March 12, Cobug voted to deny any further requests for individuals to make presentations regarding the stadium and the development of the Hudson Yards. At that meeting, the legit coalition of 13 unions and guilds also approved the motion not to take any official position on the issue.

A few legit bigwigs had hoped Cobug might vote differently. Those voices of opposition included the Shuberts’ Gerald Schoenfeld, Jujamcyn’s Rocco Landesman and Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees president Tom Short.

Prior to the Cobug vote, the two theater owners expressed objections to the stadium, citing traffic congestion as a deterrent to tourism in midtown.

“Many of our members live in that area, and they could be displaced by this,” Short told the New York Times in February.

On Wednesday, Cobug suddenly reopened the door to further discussion on the stadium. Org co-chair Tony Di Paolo called a meeting for next Wednesday. The sole speaker: Schoenfeld.

Since Cobug’s March 12 vote, the Shubert Org chairman has compiled a thick packet of reading material for the membership. Included among the many newspaper articles is a reprint of a Municipal Arts Society panel: “The Planning for the New Frontier: Economics of the Far West Side.”

Whether or not Cobug joins his drive, Schoenfeld has support from the West Side Coalition, which comprises 39 community groups. WSC estimates that the proposed development of the Hudson Yards will displace up to 40,000 existing jobs and 20,000 existing residents in the Chelsea and Clinton neighborhoods.

Di Paolo explained the Cobug’s newly called meeting. “I don’t think the coalition as a whole can take a position on it, but Gerald requested to come to the coalition again,” said Di Paolo. “He said he had some new information. Our next meeting was April 21, and Gerald said that was too late, so we called a new meeting. The individual locals may or may not support the stadium.”

Schoenfeld could not be reached for comment. In addition to being Cobug co-chair, Di Paolo is a business manager at IATSE Local One.

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