Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 22 July 2011 00:00
All the talk of a new arena for the New York Islanders has been the crux of the discussions of revamping Nassau County’s Hub in Uniondale. However, the other piece of the puzzle just started to come together on Monday, June 11.
Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano announced on July 11 that the county selected an RFP (request-for-proposal) from Long Island Ducks owner Frank Boulton of the independent Atlantic League to bring a Minor League Baseball team to Nassau County. This agreement with the Central Islip-based team is contingent upon a $400 million bond referendum passing before voters Aug. 1.
Boulton’s bid was approved Friday, July 8.
Details of the proposal were not released. The referendum would allow the construction of the ballpark near Mitchel Field to account for $50 million of the proposed bond.
Mangano estimated the cost to build the stadium at $25 million. The new field would be scheduled to open in Spring 2013.
Mitchel Field has more than 1,000 parking spaces used by county agencies during the day that would be available on game nights, county officials said. On non-game days, the ballpark will be available to local youth and sports organizations.
“We look forward to an “Expressway Series” in 2013,” Mangano said. “It’s basically a home run for Long Island, Nassau County, Suffolk County and our region as we will attract more activity at this sports and entertainment destination.”
Even if voters approve the plan, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) must approve the borrowing. The county had two applications on the table for the revamp of the Nassau Coliseum site: the Ducks and one proposal from the Syosset-based Blumenfeld Development Group cosponsored Sterling Equities.
Sterling Equities owns the New York Mets. Mangano would not confirm if Mets’ ownership being linked with the Bernie Madoff scandal factored into the decision.
“You’d have to ask the RFP committee about that,” he said. “We did not have that discussion.”
Boulton said his proposal calls for a 6,000-seat stadium with 20 skyboxes. The Long Island Ducks’ current stadium holds 6,002 seats with the identical number of skyboxes.
Boulton declined to discuss the terms of the lease agreement and would not divulge a possible team name for the proposed Nassau County team. The current lease agreement with Suffolk County was showcased at last week’s press conference.
“I think there’s no mountain range between Nassau and Suffolk,” Boulton said. “We are better off when we look at Long Island as a region. We are not a stepchild to New York and the demographics speak for themselves. What we name the team will certainly be important. Whether it be Nassau or Long Island, I would prefer Long Island because the team is on Long Island, but I’ve been thinking about this for 10 years and I have a doozy for a name.”
The mascot for the Ducks is “QuackerJack.” The name was created by a fifth-grader in a Wantagh elementary school. Whether or not the same methods of choosing a name will be utilized was not confirmed nor denied.
“It would be great for the Ducks to have a rival right down the Long Island Expressway in Nassau County,” Boulton said.
“The Ducks’ lease agreement with Suffolk pays the county $1 per ticket and 25 percent of skybox revenue,” Boulton said. Suffolk also retains the field’s naming rights and 20 percent of gross concession revenue for non-game-day events.
According to Boulton, the Ducks have raised ticket prices in one category $1 and another $2 in the last 12 years, but would not specify which. Suffolk also receives an unspecified share of advertising signage on the stadium outfield walls.
Boulton was not sure revenue-sharing terms would be final before Aug. 1. He said the Ducks would work to get those figures as soon as possible.
“We’re going to make every effort to do so,” he said. “Suffolk County’s lease was one of the most aggressive leases in all of the game of Minor League Baseball. My proposal spoke for itself.”
The Nassau proposal may be similar to the Ducks’ agreement with Suffolk, Boulton said, but suggested shared revenue for the naming rights. He said the terms of the naming rights remain up for discussion.