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September 30, 1998

Big Board's Space Shortage Is Hurting Flow of Visitors

By Staff Reports

The space crunch at the New York Stock Exchange is dampening the flow of visitors onto its crowded trading floor.

Trooping onto the floor is usually no big deal for guests of Big Board members. On the day assigned, a guest gets a stick-on identification badge, is checked by security, and then is elbowed onto the floor by a hapless tour guide.

Now with traders packed like sardines inside the venerable exchange, the Big Board can no longer easily accomodate the number of guests it once did in the past, the head equity trader at a member firm said.

"Bringing visitors onto the floor was no problem in the past," said the trader, who declined to be named. "Now, the exchange is trying to curtail them. We are basically being told to discourage the numbers coming down."

At peak times, the 36,000 square-foot exchange floor, located on the corner of Wall Street and Broad Street in lower Manhattan, bustles with 4,000 trading professionals.

"Extra floor space was added in 1989 when the Blue Room was expanded. With volume and business soaring, we have outgrown that extra space, and more and more people are jammed together," the bewildered trader said.

New Floor

The space crunch illustrates the Big Board's desperate need for new digs and additional room. Speculation is rife that the Big Board is eyeing a new trading floor a block away from its current site. That site is most of the block encircled by Broad, Beaver and William Streets, and Exchange Place, according to sources quoted in a business story in New York's Daily News.

The whopping $1 billion deal, expected to be completed as early as this month, was brokered by city and state officials, according to the same story. The story says plans call for the Big Board to turn the existing exchange space into office accomodations, and the new space into a high-tech trading-floor showcase. Bruce Menin, owner of one of the buildings eyed for accomodation, said a deal is imminent.

Asked to comment on the report, a city official said during a regular City Hall news conference that the City of New York was not involved in the reported negotiations.

If the deal does not materialize, others speculate that the exchange will expand its current trading floor, adding the floor once used to trade futures, options and bonds, and now used for backoffice processing.


The old floor at 30 Broad Street is situated in a building partially leased by the Big Board, and linked to the main building by a walkway. The new space would give the Big Board an additional 8,000 square feet.

Other possibilities are said to include relocating the trading operations onto a site in nearby Battery Park City, and across the Hudson River in New Jersey. A spokeswoman for the Big Board told Traders Magazine that the exchange "continues to keep its options open."