Thad Sheely is leaving as a New York Jets executive after helping the National Football League team build a $1.6 billion stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Sheely, 40, the Jets’ vice president for stadium development and finance, said he’ll start a real-estate development company based in New York. The Jets and Super Bowl-champion New York Giants each borrowed $650 million to build what’s now called MetLife Stadium, which opened in 2010 adjacent to the site of now-demolished Giants Stadium.
“It really was a great opportunity to be involved in a project of this scale,” Sheely said in a telephone interview. “Not many people get to build a stadium in New York for two NFL teams. Now that the stadium’s built and sold, I’m ready for my next challenge.”
Sheely received one of the SportsBusiness Journal’s “Forty Under 40” awards in 2010 for his role in the stadium project. Along with football, the facility has hosted college sports, international soccer and concerts.
“Thad’s a bright, driven visionary who thrives off the challenge of building successful enterprises,” Jets owner Woody Johnson said in an e-mail to the team’s staff. “His considerable abilities will serve him well as he moves on to the world of New York City real estate.”
The Stanford Graduate School of Business alumnus joined the Jets in 2001 after working with basketball’s Miami Heat to construct an arena in that city’s downtown. He also helped run the Jets’ campaign for a stadium on Manhattan’s West Side linked to an unsuccessful New York bid for the 2012 Olympics.
Sheely’s new company, called Gridworks Development, will focus on projects in transitional neighborhoods and provide advice on public-private projects.
Sheely said Johnson’s vision and investment drove the stadium project and turned the Jets into a first-class franchise. The Jets reached the American Football Conference championship game after the 2009 and 2010 seasons, before finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs in 2011.
“It’s been fun going along for the ride,” he said. “He’s committed a ton of resources to get us where we are today.”
Matt Higgins, the Jets’ executive vice president of business operations, said last month he would leave the team to go into business for himself. Bob Parente, the team’s senior vice president of programming and media production, will run business operations on an interim basis.