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Islanders: The Clock is Ticking

Tuesday's legislative meeting boasts plenty of opinions, but little progress.

Urgency to build a new Coliseum was conveyed at Tuesday's Nassau Legislature Economic and Community Development and Labor meeting.

"We have to make a decision on the Coliseum," New York Islanders Senior Vice President and Alternate Governor Michael Picker pleaded in front of the legislature.

Picker was joined by local politicians and labor officials who urged redevelopment at Nassau's HUB before time runs out.

Several ideas were traded, from state and federal funding to public funding from Nassau residents — on a smaller scale from last summer's proposal.

The idea of public funding might seem insane to Nassau residents, who handily defeated a public referendum on Aug. 1, 2011 to fund a new Coliseum, but according to Picker and Richard Bivone, chairman of the LI Business Council, public funding is necessary.

"The numbers don't work without public [funding]," Bivone said.

Outspoken Nassau residents have also suggested Islanders owner Charles Wang pay for a new Coliseum, but President of the Long Island Regional Planning Council John Cameron, who Legis. Denise Ford, R-Long Beach, heralded as a "voice of reason" during today's session, said residents need to be more mindful that Wang owns the Islanders, not the Coliseum.

"We can’t forget that this is still a county-owned facility," Cameron said. "… For this to be successful, we need a hybrid [development]."

Cameron's concept of a "hybrid" development involves getting as much money as possible from both public and private entities.

Despite all of the ideas being suggested, at the end of the legislative session, urgency still reigned supreme. Deputy County Executive Rob Walker and Legis. Dave Denenberg, D-Merrick, both agreed that in order to have a realistic shot at building a new arena and revitalizing the HUB, a decision should be made by the end of 2012.

Picker continued to stress that while the Islanders will not pinpoint an exact deadline, Walker and Denenberg's point was fairly accurate.

"Time is of the essence," Picker said. "… We have to make a decision soon."

paul February 15, 2012 at 12:21 AM
I have been preaching the above for some time now. Yes public funds are also needed to build a modern state of the art development. It is the basis of Economics 101. You need to spend money to reap the benefits that go along with an arena. With no arena there will be no tax base coming in, no revenues from all the shows, and conventions that would be held in the arena. The public needs to continually be better informed about why it is so important to have this arena. Without a new arena Nassau county will have NOTHING! The current arena is OUTDATED and has too many band-aids on it already. Nassau County must find a way to build one as soon as possible.....
Matthew Hogan February 15, 2012 at 12:56 AM
I liked that Cameron addressed the fact that this is not Wang's arena. It is not his responsibility to pay for a new one. To the people saying he should fork over the cash, keep in mind he has already lost more than $200 million on the Isles and has done everything he can to keep them here. As much as he cares about his team and Nassau County, he's still a businessman.
paul February 15, 2012 at 01:15 AM
I am not even an Islander fan but economics 101 has been lacking by the Nassau political machine for quite some time now. We need to show public support in some way. If we lose the Islanders we can only hope another MAJOR team would like to call nassau county home. A primary team from the NHL, NBA or both. It will all be on the shoulders of an ace marketing team that gets created.
Stephen Humenesky February 15, 2012 at 12:36 PM
The current arena is in the condition it is in and has been since it opened because of gov't involevment. The coliseum, Nassau Comm College and the central utility's plant are a monument to govt involvement and the political trading of the public trust by then Executive Ralph Caso who traded everything to get it done. The islanders are already moving in 2015 to brooklyn. Its a done deal yet the county wants you to think different to give the appearance that they are fighting to keep them. NO PUBLIC FUNDING FOR PRIVATE SECRET DEALS. Frankly we can't afford the price or the cost.
Mac February 15, 2012 at 01:27 PM
First of all there is no "done deal" for the Isles to move to Brooklyn. FYI- this issue was specifically addresses in an interview an WFAN with Gary Bettman. GAry clearly stated that the arena is not built for an NHL hockey team. It would be the smallest arena in the NHL and the NHL would have to approve the move. He also said that the fan base with the proximity to MSG and the Rangers would be a factor. The issue of wang building an arena that the county will own is just insane. It can only be done with a combination and lease that would benefit both. Wang has been given exclusive frst rights. Hopefully he can come up with something the political party not in power can agree on. A creative lease done in the NBAand I forget what team was that the pwner built the arena and pays 1.00 per year for a certain amount of time. they need to get this done.
Matthew Hogan February 15, 2012 at 03:05 PM
@Stephen Humenesky: I honestly don't think they're moving to Brooklyn. They might not stay in Nassau, unfortunately, but there are a few other destinations way ahead of Brooklyn in the race -- far from a done deal.
Ronbo February 15, 2012 at 06:56 PM
This piece of land needs to be devloped our local politicans keep draging there feet coming up with reasons for why it won't work.Instead of why we need this now about jobs, increase tax revnue, increased property value, hotels, low income housing, new business.Wang had the right idea he is a visionary not like some of the people we have as our elected officals who can't see the forest through the trees and are clueless.
patricia maher February 16, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I was at the hearing,Paul and spoke during the public comment time. I agree that we need a new Coliseum and to develop the area. Since I live in the northern part of East Meadow, I am in an impacted area. I stressed that they need to keep the community informed of what they're doing. I suggested that it be an evolving process with the community. That differs from the past, where a plan was made and then they tell the community later.
paul February 16, 2012 at 03:28 PM
To Patricia: Yes, and the residence of Nassau County need to realize that some public funding will probably be necessary to move forward. If the county has an investment in it, we can then reap additional monetary benefits from a new modern arena and all it has to offer.
Anthony Sesack February 16, 2012 at 04:47 PM
I agree with Paul 100%. When the VOTE was established last year, the County wasn't giving all the facts as to why local tax payers SHOULD vote YES. As far as I see it, if the Islanders leave Nassau County and the Coliseum goes belly up, that means there is no revenue coming in on that property. Now, the County still OWNS that property. If there's no money coming in to cover the property taxes on that property, where the hell do they think the money is coming from??!! The County sure as hell not going to absorb the costs. The TAX PAYER will eventually be hit in their wallet. Not to mention if the Coliseum needs to be leveled, with the idea nothing else is going to replace it. Who do you think is going to pay for that? The Tax Payer. So as I see it, the Tax Payer is going to be hurt MORE in the long run if a new arena is NOT built. But the County Execs aren't telling us that. So if Mangano lets the property go, guess who won't be in office for a second term. And I'm sure everyone else that's in there now that can make a new arena happen, won't have a job for much longer. Just my 2¢
Daniel Williams February 18, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Let the clock run out.......
Mike C. February 18, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Let's not forget this fact- For some reason they keep adding other things to the plan!Forget the Hotels,Forget the Minor league Baseball Stadium and all of the other B.S. !!!!! Just build ONE BUILDING !!!!!!!!!!! A NEW COLISEUM.
Pamela McGrath Solomon February 18, 2012 at 01:03 PM
I am disgusted with the 'get nothing done' politics in this county. I am voting all incumbents out with a big shove! Is there nobody with vision and ability to produce results that will make Nassau County a better place in which to live? Sad, really.
James M. February 20, 2012 at 01:52 PM
If they want Nassau tax payers to vote for a new arena they have to have a completed deal not a bunch of promises from politicians and the owner.
James M. February 20, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Public funding will only come with a deal that benefits both parties not just Wang. WANG CANNOT MOVE THE ISLANDERS WITHOUT NHL BOARD APPROVAL
James M. February 20, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Agreed. If they limited the scope to just an arena maybe we could get somewhere.
James M. February 20, 2012 at 01:57 PM
He's lost $200 Mil on mismanagement of the franchise. Don't make this about Nassau County Tax payers. No one wants to see a loser.
James M. February 20, 2012 at 01:58 PM
You'd have to get all the diehard Republicans to vote with you since Nassau has had only one Democratic gov't in 30 years. Too many people vote a party line in Nassau without listening to what the politician is going to do for Nassau.
Mac February 20, 2012 at 02:06 PM
James you are correct that the NHL must approve the move however the NHL cannot force an owner or franchise to stay in one location and lose money unless the NHL is willing to buy the team like in Phoenix. All local options must be considered before a move similar to that in Atlanta back to winnepeg. Bettman has already said that getting more teams in canada is a priority because attendance is high there but he also mentioned the NHL has a desire to keep the Islanders in the NY market. AND I agree 100% too many people vote on party lines but also now we have too many voting just to get everyone out. That is why we have Mangano.
Business Man February 24, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Most of the people who do vote in local elections vote along party lines. There are also a great number of people who want LI to look like it did 100 years ago. Geez, how do some politicians, with some of the most ridiculous records, get re-elected by landslides time after time.These folks want no development of any kind, because it ruins "our suburban character". What a crock! What they refuse to realize are many of the things pointed out by many of the bloggers-there are economic impacts to lack of development that are very serious. In25 years, we will look like Detroit, barren spaces, with few jobs. Thank all the NIMBYS, when it happens.
Anthony Centola February 25, 2012 at 09:32 PM
For all of you who didn't vote yes on August 1 because you were afraid of higher taxes, what do you think will happen when the Islanders leave Nassau and the Coliseum is completely abandoned. There will be no revenue from that property, and who do you think will be forced to make it up?
Mac February 25, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Anthony I have been saying this for months. The political parties will blame each other and we will get stuck with the bill. If they all couldve sat down and figured it out together we wouldve never had a hastily put together incomplete plan to vote on. I hope I am wrong and the arena will attract shows etc...to generate revenue but I firnly believe if the islanders leave the building will be shut down within 5 years or less and we will pay more than what the estimated cost wouldve been and have nothing to show for it but another empty lot on the turnpike. Our politicians continue to let us down because they put their allginace to their parties ahead of us.

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