NEW YORK: The New York Jets will be relying more on PR tactics in the battle over the rights to develop a key property on Manhattan's West Side now that competing bidder Cablevision has refused to run the Jets' ads.
Cablevision's move to decline ads supporting the Jets' proposal for the property in question has forced the team to search for free media placements to pick up the slack. "A large segment of paid media is unavailable to us and is available to the opposition," said Jets VP Matt Higgins, "and they're wielding it with impunity and with vigor. So PR is even more important."
The Jets covet the waterfront property, which is currently owned by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), to build a state-of-the-art football stadium that would also be used to host conventions and concerts. Cablevision, which owns Madison Square Garden (MSG), hopes to develop residential and commercial properties on the site, a move that would preempt the Jets' plan to end MSG's virtual monopoly on large conventions and events in the city.
Cablevision has been running its own PR and advertising campaign for months. Since last May, Sloane & Co. has served as the de facto AOR for the New York Association for Better Choices, a Cablevision-funded group billed as "a coalition of community leaders and groups opposed" to a new stadium. Not only does the group bring public pressure on the MTA, city, and state officials who will decide on the stadium's fate, but it has "spoken out supportively" on Cablevision's competing bid, said Sloane MD Whit Clay.
"At this point, the association is pushing very hard to make sure that the bid process is ... fair, open, and competitive," Clay said.
The Jets are working with Ken Sunshine Associates and Mercury Public Affairs on communications strategies - an arrangement that has resulted in a preliminary inquiry by the Albany, NY, district attorney into allegations that president Ken Sunshine lobbied for the Jets while on the state Senate's payroll.
Sunshine was on the payroll as a media consultant to the minority party, and state law prohibits Senate employees from lobbying its members.
"We're aware of the situation, and we've made a preliminary inquiry," Richard Arthur, chief information officer for the Albany district attorney said. "We need to look at the facts and evidence to see if we want to pursue the case."
Sunshine told the New York Daily News that he wasn't engaged in lobbying on behalf of the Jets while he was on the state Senate payroll, and that he only registered as a lobbyist to alert those he might come into contact with.