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Letter: NC Coliseum Plan: Taxpayers Should Fund $400 Million New Arena?

In 1972 the Nassau Coliseum first opened as the new home for NHL’s Islanders.  Nassau County taxpayers funded the construction, at a cost of $31 million; through tax exempt bonds of the 16,300-seat arena on 77 acres of Nassau County owned land. The management of the site was dealt to the Spectacor Mgmt. Group (SMG). The highlight of this run was four straight Stanley Cup Championships from 1980 – 1984.

On September 17, 1998 the Islanders filed a lawsuit claiming the Nassau Coliseum was unsafe, the NHL New York Islanders moved out of the arena. The lawsuit said SMG, the company managing the venue, failed to make necessary improvements and that made the venue unsafe. As a result, the team said it was forced to evict itself from the arena. Among the Islanders’ complaints, the main scoreboard hoist system was a safety risk. Other concerns: elevators, roof, rink boards/glass and seats. The suit asked for the team to be released from its lease and for $10 million in damages. The county had later proposed a $270 million plan that called for a new arena and retail complex to be built with the cost being shared equally among the county, state and the team.

So, now in 2011, Nassau County proposes that their best plan for a new coliseum is that the taxpayers should fund $400 million in estimated construction costs and over $450 million in interest debt, a total of at least $850 million!!! Is this really the best plan for ‘we the people’ of the highest taxed county in the nation solely to foot the bill for a private business enterprise? Besides that you will pay for a special election, August 1st, at a cost of over $2 million, when it could have been held for nothing on Primary and/or Election Day. (If it passes, the Team [Charles Wang] will reimburse Nassau County.) Is this fiscally prudent at any time especially during these economic times when Nassau County is laying off workers and our financial house stressed and under the watch of NIFA? We would ask, does this really make the most sense for the taxpayers of Nassau County?  

Would some of this money be better invested in helping to develop high-tech companies and careers along with permanently affordable work-force housing to help keep more of our highly educated young people here in Nassau County on Long Island?

Speak up, speak out and vote…also contact your Nassau County Legislator and the County Executive to let them know how you really feel. Since there are no meetings in our area and this is the vacation season be sure to get out and vote with your wallet in mind on August 1st.

The Concerned Citizens Association of Farmingdale (CCAF) Board of Directors;
Chuck Gosline, Tina Diamond, Phil Badome and Lisa Twomey