Home field advantage. Every team in professional sports enjoys it. Every team expects it. Every team deserves it. But then there is the New York Jets, who have been playing in another state since 1984. They have not played a legitimate home game in over 20 years. This has all been by choice. And recently when they have a chance to have their own stadium right in Queens, they are in negotiations with the Giants to build a new stadium in New Jersey. They may once again be playing in another team’s building for 16 games and further alienate their loyal fans. The Jets had a huge home field advantage in their days at Shea Stadium. The open end produced swirling winds. The natural turf, the crazy following, and a Super Bowl championship even made up for the shabby treatment the New York Mets gave their stadium co-tenants. Baseball ruled the football schedule and the Jets had to wait until almost October to play their home opener. This reason (along with unclean restrooms) was enough for former Jets owner Leon Hess to pack up and leave for the Garden State. They moved in as even more of a second banana to the New York Giants.
The Jets try to pull the wool over their fans eyes as much as they can. They call the place The Meadowlands instead of it’s real name – Giants Stadium. They cover the Giants blue with Kelly green bunting. They have these guys running around the field waving Jets flags whenever they score. The video screen and loud speakers make the place feel like a rock concert. Everything is completely normal except that this is all a facade. It is a masquerade. Even during successful seasons there is always something missing.
The Jets are known to their fans as Gang Green. But there have been some low points when the team has struggled and were sarcastically called Gangrene. Their fans have been disguised in paper bags and as empty seats. They have blown 21-point leads and have finished with a 1-15 record. They had a 90-yard run from the line of scrimmage and did not score on that possession. You get the idea.
Don’t get me wrong. The team has had some good fortune since they moved from New York. The 1980’s teams gave us a high-powered offense. The Bill Parcells era was successful. Their current regime has brought the team to the playoffs. But there has always been one common denominator regardless if Joe Walton, Rich Kotite, or The Tuna patrolled the sideline.
The Jets have to get credit where it is due. If you agreed with the idea or not, they tried to have a real home built on Manhattan’s West Side. They put together a nice presentation along with an Olympic bid. But in the end, the idea did not get passed the model stage. The place would have been state of the art, but to the average fan it was out of touch. Tickets would have been extremely high, probably even more than the cost of a ticket, tolls, and gas that it costs to travel from New York to The Meadowlands.
They did not even consider a possible location in Queens, where they would be closer to their fan base and their training facility. Only when the West Side project hit a wall did they start listening to what their former place of residence had to offer. Right now they are trying to work out a stadium deal with the Giants to be co-tenants in a brand new stadium in New Jersey. They have met with Queens officials, but this seems as a fall back option.
Even if the new Jersey stadium has a corporate name and neutral colors, it will not be their place. They can say all the 50-50 stuff they want. This will be the same situation as their current one. They have even stated that if the stadium deal goes through, they will move their home office and training facility to Jersey, as well. They will leave behind their last ties to New York.
Isn’t it ironic that there are two N.F.L. teams that call themselves `New York’, but the only team that really plays in the state is the Buffalo Bills?