(Long Island, N.Y.) When the franchise was first born in 1959, the New York Titans took up residence in an antiquated baseball stadium abandoned by the Giants a few years earlier. The Polo Grounds was disliked by players and fans of the new American Football League team and when they were renamed the Jets and moved to the newly built Shea Stadium in 1964, no one complained that they were playing second fiddle to the Mets.
That only lasted so long and when Leon Hess moved the team to Giants Stadium in 1984, the landlord-tenant battle in Flushing had run its course. The Jets traded all of the slights from the Mets for having no identity of their own by playing in New Jersey.
Their fan base was teased with the possibility of finally having their own stadium on the West Side of Manhattan and again in Queens, only to have all of those hopes dashed when Jet owner Woody Johnson went in with the Giants owners on a $1.6 billion stadium built adjacent to the existing one in East Rutherford.
What perturbed the legions of frustrated Jets fans is that the Giants had already laid the plans to build the new version of their own stadium with or without the financial help of the Jets. So it was never a 50-50 project, just another facade of the Jets calling someplace home.
In Year One, the building was called the New Meadowlands Stadium. Each week, the colors would change from blue to green – all without the help of bunting like at the old place. Both team’s seemed happy feeling out the new surroundings and it really didn’t matter that the naming rights still weren’t sold.
With the announcement last week that MetLife had purchased those rights, it kind of sparked new interest in whose building it really is. And right on the heels of the annual preseason game, which this year was a Giants home contest. Defensive end Justin Tuck made a comment that no matter what the actual name of the place is, it will always be “Giants Stadium” to him. In response, Santonio Holmes said that it is “MetLife Stadium, the home of the New York Jets.”
Let the war of the words begin, at least to give a little juice to an August matchup. It will get even bigger when these two teams meet again when it counts on Christmas Eve as a Jets home game. But for now, the fans will have to be satisfied with the Jets 17-3 win in the inaugural MetLife Bowl.
Mark Sanchez didn’t throw any fuel to the fire when asked about having another team in town, but also stayed away from throwing cold water on it, too. “It’s a city rivalry and something that we take seriously here and you want to win the city, you want to win your division and you want to win the Super Bowl,” the three-year Jets quarterback said. “So that is one of our goals each year, whether we play in the preseason or regular season; this year we do it both times. We would love to play well both games and win them both.”
And whatever you want to call the place, both games will actually take place at MetLife Stadium.