Written by County Executive Edward Mangano Friday, 29 July 2011 00:00
On August 1, Nassau County residents have an opportunity to create over 3,000 new permanent jobs, over 1,500 construction jobs and generate $400 million in tax relief for homeowners. How? It’s simple. Residents can vote in a special election, at their normal polling locations, whether they wish to receive these economic benefits that accompany the creation of a sports-entertainment destination center at the site of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The plan authorizes the County to move forward with building a new sports-entertainment arena, baseball stadium and other improvements to the area.
Economically speaking, this new arena is paramount to jump-starting a hurting Nassau economy. Sadly, in past years, Nassau took too many steps backwards with the loss of Canon USA, Grumman, Avis, OSI Pharmaceuticals, the Nets, and the Jets. We must learn from previous mistakes in order to make the future of Nassau County a bright one that employs its residents. We can ensure a positive route to future prosperity by passing the August 1st referendum, because from Islander tickets to concert tickets, from pretzels to hot dogs, Nassau County will share in a portion of all dollars spent at the new arena that Nassau County residents will own.
Since the project was first announced, Nassau County and the arena operator have reached a lease agreement that keeps Long Island’s only major professional sports team, the NY Islanders, playing in Nassau County through the year 2045. Under the terms of the lease agreement, Nassau County taxpayers are guaranteed 11.5 percent of all dollars generated at the new arena. To protect taxpayers, the bare minimum the County will receive a minimum of $14 million annually from the arena operator. Furthermore, this clause is not restricted to just Islander games! Every event at the Nassau Coliseum, from a Harlem Globetrotters game, to the annual boat show, to a sold-out Lady Gaga concert, taxpayers win as they share in the money collected from all the events.
According to Camoin Associates, a nationally recognized firm in public and private sector development, the agreement will generate $1.2 billion! This revenue will first be used to pay off the $350 million in construction costs for this new arena. Next, $433 million will be used for debt service payments. Finally, in keeping consistent with my pledge to the citizens of Nassau County, I will hold the line on property taxes through the use of the last $403 million.
In this tumultuous economic climate, jobs are very hard to maintain, let alone be created. However, if the referendum for a new arena is approved by Nassau County residents on August 1, it will create 1,515 new jobs during construction and 3,040 permanent jobs beginning the first year the arena opens!
Moreover, if the referendum passes, Islanders owner Charles Wang has stated that he will even reimburse the county for costs of the vote. As Mr. Wang has said, “With this unprecedented agreement, we are paying for this state-of-the-art sports-entertainment destination while creating thousands of jobs and new revenue streams that benefit Nassau County homeowners and business owners. The Islanders were born on Long Island, won four Stanley Cups for Long Island, and want to call Long Island home for decades to come.”
I know that Nassau’s path towards prosperity will not end with the building of a new sports-entertainment arena and ballpark. However, these new facilities will serve as an initial foundation onto which our local economy can begin to grow and rebuild once again, and we can turn Nassau County back into a County that was the envy of all homeowners in the United States of America.