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Feature Stories

A Take On “Nassau Like Never Before”

Ratner pushing hard for his

new Nassau Coliseum

With their Stanley Cup hopes upended, disappointed New York Islanders fans are turning their attention to the four-way face-off for the redevelopment of Nassau Coliseum…and Bruce Ratner is on a fast break towards the goalie.

Proposals for the different plans were made at a May 2 meeting for the Nassau Business Advisory Council. Among the bidders are Ratner, the Barclays Center developer, the Madison Square Garden (MSG) Company, Syosset developer Edward Blumenfeld and New York Sports LLC.

Nassau County expects to choose a developer by July 15.

Ratner’s group, Nassau Events Center LLC, plans on revitalizing the 41-year-old arena by renovating the interior and exterior of the facility, which will include downsizing its capacity to 13,000 seats from its current 17,686. In addition, Ratner will put up a 2,500-seat amphitheater, a movie theater, a Fillmore theater, up to 10 restaurants, 50,000 square feet of retail space and a veteran’s memorial.

Ratner said a minor league hockey franchise, which he declined to name, is looking to play at the site. The project will be privately funded.

Ratner reps reached out to Anton Community Newspapers for an interview on May 15 at the Barclays Center where he detailed the design and the proposal. But what’s striking is that Ratner is taking out ads left and right on TV and in print, (including Anton News).

Among the goodies he has on display in the Barclays in Brooklyn range from VIP lounges to Calvin Klein clubs. Ratner’s vision for the Barclays Center should make for an interesting comparison to the Uniondale site if he is chosen.

Competing proposals like the $250 million MSG plan has names like the WNBA’s New York Liberty and minor league hockey team Connecticut Whale attached to their projects, but Ratner’s no slouch when it comes to roping in big names.

Ratner has significant backing from what he calls his “dream team” in Legends, a New York Yankees-owned company, hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, with SHoP Architects and Gensler handling the exterior and interior respectively, among others. Ratner is also pushing to host more than 300 events per year at the coliseum. He’s touting “Nassau Like Never Before” and “I’m going to take my talents to Nassau,” he said.

Ratner has won over at least one top Nassau County official on his plan to reinvigorate the site.

“There are four very exciting proposals [for the Coliseum],” Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos said at a Joint Civic Association meeting in New Hyde Park on May 15. “I felt the best proposal is that of Ratner.”

One local luminary he has already brought into the fold is Islanders and coliseum owner Charles Wang. He and Ratner struck a deal for the Islanders to move to Brooklyn in 2015, if not sooner.

He stated that Wang received other offers to move out of New York, despite opposition from fans. Ratner is sweetening the pot by including a plan to host a few Islanders games — a half dozen — at the proposed coliseum.

“I hear both [sides of the issue],” Ratner said of Long Island fans. “The alternative was not very good…[Wang] had two choices, move them out of state, or do whatever he could to keep them in-state. It was not like there was a brand new arena about to go up.”

Until Ratner brought the Barclays Center to town.

SHoP lead architect Chris Sharples said Nassau’s revamped coliseum would need a “scaled intimacy” to keep it from being overwhelming. “Manhattan is all about shiny steel and glass,” said Sharples. “[The coliseum] has to feel like it belongs on Long Island.”

July 15 is a month and a half away. We’re only two weeks into the battle for the coliseum; so don’t expect the power play to end any time soon.