New Stadiums OK’d for Eagles, Phils
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ City Council approved a $1 billion deal to build two new sports stadiums Wednesday despite some complaints even from supporters that it was a hasty decision.
``This passes today not with handshakes and high-fives but with an air of suspicion,″ said Councilman James Kenney. ``This entire process has been marked by a lack of information.″
Kenney still voted for the deal because, he said, it was better than the alternative _ fixing the outmoded, 30-year-old Veterans Stadium and buying the Eagles new $23 million practice facility.
``We have a choice between a relatively bad deal and a worse deal,″ he said.
Mayor John F. Street’s plan calls for stadiums for the Eagles and Phillies to be built in South Philadelphia, near Veterans Stadium, where both teams now play.
They would cost about $200 million less than the plan Street had pushed for much of the year, which called for the baseball stadium to be built downtown in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood.
Some council members said they would have wanted more time to analyze the deal, which needed to be approved before the end of the year in order for the Eagles and Phillies to meet construction timetables.
The council had given preliminary approval to the proposal Dec. 8 and final vote had been expected to favor the plan. The vote Wednesday was 15-2.
``Obviously, we’re tremendously excited,″ Eagles executive vice president Joe Banner said. ``It’s a big relief _ there were a lot of moments over the past two years it seemed like it might not happen.″
The Eagles have completed design and construction documents for their 66,000-seat football stadium, and the team hopes to begin construction this spring and open the 2003 season in their new home.
``This represents a great day for the Phillies’ organization but primarily for our fans,″ Phillies general manager Ed Wade said. ``We can now begin to take a major step for our fans to watch baseball in a very special ballpark.″
The Phillies plan to open their 45,000-seat baseball stadium in 2004.