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New York City has received a legal green light from a federal judge to build a baseball stadium in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn to house a minor league affiliate of the New York Mets. Eastern District Judge I. Leo Glasser dismissed an injunction application filed by a company that had a concession from the City to build an amusement park at Coney Island, saying that the City’s ballpark plan did not take away any current right held by the amusement park developer. The judge also turned aside an allegation that the developer was pushed out of its deal with the City because its president is black. In Coney Island Resorts Inc. v. Giuliani, 00 CV 2233 (ILG), the amusement park developer said that it held title to land in the Steeplechase Park area that would be separated by the proposed stadium, and that those parcels would become worthless if the City proceeds with its plan to build a stadium. Judge Glasser’s dismissal of the complaint for injunctive relief follows by six weeks his decision against imposing a temporary restraining order blocking development of a Coney Island stadium, which the City plans to open in June 2001. The stadium will accommodate a Class A affiliate of the Mets and play in the New York-Penn League, whose season runs from June through early September. In 1986, Coney Island Resorts Inc. entered into an agreement with the City to develop a $70 million amusement park at Steeplechase Park, a site owned by the City. In connection with those plans, the amusement park developer secured two parcels of land adjoining Steeplechase Park. But the plans were never realized. Coney Island Resorts, however, paid $148,000 in fees to extend the term of its license to develop the Steeplechase Park property. But in 1994, City officials informed the company the deal would have to be terminated. Coney Island Resorts said that after the 1994 termination, the City held talks to discuss the involvement of Coney Island Resorts in the baseball stadium plan. But those talks finally fell through, and the City went ahead with developing the site as a minor league ballpark. Judge Glasser said that Coney Island Resorts no longer has any property interest in a license to develop Steeplechase Park, and indeed never arranged the financing that would have placed itself in position to realize its plans. “Though not for lack of trying, CIR simply failed to obtain the financing that was a condition precedent on the lease from the outset and throughout its dealings with the City,” Judge Glasser wrote. After concluding that the developer has no legal property interest, the judge rejected the argument that the minor league stadium, if built, would be a taking. He also rejected the claim that the Giuliani Administration terminated the amusement park license because the company’s president, Horace Bullard, is black. The evidence marshalled by Coney Island Resorts, Judge Glasser said, did not support the claim that it was deprived of equal protection. “[Coney Island Resorts] has … failed to show that anything about the City’s treatment of either CIR or Mr. Bullard was based on impermissible considerations,” Judge Glasser said. The court said that a statement allegedly made by the City Economic Development Corporation former president, Charles Millard, to the effect that the Giuliani Administration’s decision to terminate the agreement was “unprecedented,” does not establish that the developer or Mr. Bullard were selectively treated on the basis of Mr. Bullard’s race. Leopold Kaplan of Manhattan represented Coney Island Resorts. Assistant Corporation Counsel Susan Shapiro handled the case for the City.

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