Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 01 July 2011 00:00
First it was the Lighthouse Project, then a casino and now a new redevelopment plan that could garner a minor league ballpark and new arena for the New York Islanders. Interested parties will be crossing their fingers until Aug. 1 when Nassau County residents will vote a $400 million bond referendum to redevelop the 77-acre site of the Nassau Coliseum.
But that’s old news, for now.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, and Islanders owner Charles Wang discussed and released details on June 21 concerning the new lease on the property if the bond referendum that calls for a serious overhaul of the coliseum site gets voter approval. The county would receive 11.5 percent ($14 million a year) of all revenue from a new Nassau Coliseum under the agreement.
The deal would give team owner Charles Wang a 30-year lease beginning in 2015 over the entire 77 acres surrounding the Coliseum, but would not grant him development rights. Wang would have to pay Nassau at least $14 million annually, regardless of how much the team takes in.
Mangano cites revenue-sharing projections of more than $18 million in the first year. He stated the county would have final say on development.
According to an economic impact analysis conducted by Camoin Associates, the agreement will generate approximately $1.2 billion in new revenues. Other revenue estimates on the debt service and the cost to build a new arena are at $433 million and $350 million respectively. An additional $403 million in revenue would be in the county’s pocket to hold the line on property taxes.
However, not everyone feels this to be the case. Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs released a statement on the plan to revamp the Coliseum site.
“If the taxpayers believe that they will own anything other than a even higher tax bill, then I have a bridge to sell,” he said. “The only thing the people of Nassau can count on as the truth is that the county is in a financial crisis, but Ed Mangano and the Republicans want us to bail out a billionaire — by raising our taxes. But don’t take my word for it...what Mangano and the Republicans are promising flies in the face of what the county’s own independent budget review office says.”
Camoin estimated that over 3,040 permanent jobs and 1,515 construction jobs would be created if the referendum passes. Camoin representative, Michael Iandoli, would not give a per-household figure as to how much it would cost taxpayers.
Officials from both the county and Islanders expect to get added sales, entertainment and hotel tax dollars because of the spending that a new arena would generate. The Coliseum’s first year would bring the county more than $28 million in total, according to Mangano.
“This historic agreement retains our New York Islanders while ensuring that residents earn dividends should they vote to invest in Nassau County’s future,” Mangano said. “From Islander tickets to concert tickets, pretzels to hotdogs, Nassau County will share in a portion of dollars spent at the new arena that residents will own. The construction of a new arena will retain and create thousands of jobs and be a catalyst to generate the revenue needed to hold the line on property taxes.”
Mangano argued that an empty Coliseum that would generate no revenue is a lose-lose situation for Nassau County. Wang has threatened to move the team if a new Coliseum is not built.
“It’s move ahead or fall behind. It’s not stay the same,” Mangano said. “You have to act today. Your choice is not the status quo.”
“I think the best thing is to go with this right now and hope and pray,” Wang said. “The best thing to do is come out and vote and vote often.”
The deal comes six weeks before the planned Aug. 1 referendum. The county legislature and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA), a state monitoring board that is overseeing the county’s finances, would have to approve the borrowing.
“There is significant oversight in this process,” Mangano said. “This is an entirely public process. This project, like all projects over a certain threshold in Nassau County, has a significant review, which originates in my office.”
The county estimates that in the new Coliseum’s first year of operation, it would receive $18.9 million in revenue sharing. By comparison, 11.5 percent of the Coliseum revenue for the 2011-2012 hockey season will amount to about $12 million, according to Islanders Senior Vice President Michael Picker.
Picker stated that the county would receive its share of money from all Coliseum activities and revenue streams, even though Wang himself does not profit from concert ticket revenue. Wang would have to pay the county’s portion, even when he doesn’t directly benefit, according to Picker.
“I know that everyone has worked tirelessy, around the clock,” Wang said. “In order for us to grow in Long Island and Nassau County, we need to invest in our future. I am not blind to our struggling economy and how it’s affected everyone and I am very cognizant of the substantial taxes paid by everyone; but the economy is not going to fix itself. We need to make decisions on opportunities that can be catalysts that can improve our lives.”
The agreement would have to be approved by the legislature. It focuses solely on the new arena and a surface lot that would provide 6,500 parking spaces. But the county could issue a request for proposal (RFP) for other development.
Mangano said he’d like to break ground in 2012.
Nassau County will host a series of public information meetings to be held from noon to 2 p.m. and from 4 to 8 p.m. (unless specified otherwise) on the following days:
Wednesday, June 29 at the East Meadow Library, located at 1886 Front Street, East Meadow (Town of Hempstead) from 1 to 3 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.
Thursday, June 30 at the William P. Bennett Hicksville Community Center, located at 28 West Carl Street, Hicksville (Town of Oyster Bay).
Friday, July 1 at the American Legion Hall, located at 730 Willis Avenue, Williston Park (Town of North Hempstead).
Monday, July 11 at the Jones Manor on the Sound Adult Home, located at 59 Bayville Avenue, Bayville (Town of Oyster Bay).
Tuesday, July 12 at Long Beach City Hall (6th floor), located at 1 West Chester Street, Long Beach (City of Long Beach).
Tuesday, July 12 at East Meadow High School, located at 101 Carmen Avenue, East Meadow (Town of Hempstead) from 7 to 9 p.m. only.
Wednesday, July 13 at Glen Cove City Hall (in the main chambers), located at 9 Glen Street, Glen Cove (City of Glen Cove).
Friday, July 15 at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building (in the rotunda), located at 1550 Franklin Ave, Mineola (Town of Hempstead).