June 27, 2013
Nassau Coliseum Ideas on the Table
by ROBERT BRODSKY
The four companies bidding to redevelop the Nassau Coliseum and its surrounding property announced new details of their plans Wednesday, including the addition of an Arena Football League team and a proposal to reduce traffic backlogs on Hempstead Turnpike.
One company, Blumenfeld Development Group, also said it would make annual lease payments to Nassau of 20 percent of the new arena's net operating income, estimated at $840,000 per year but no less than $350,000.
The developers — Blumenfeld, Forest City Ratner Cos., the Madison Square Garden Co. and New York Sports LLC — spoke Wednesday to the Long Island Real Estate Group, an industry association, in Old Westbury.
With less than three weeks to go before Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano selects a winning bidder, the developers used the meeting to disclose new elements of their proposals.
Forest City Ratner executive chairman Bruce Ratner announced that an Arena Football League team he did not identify would relocate to the Coliseum.
The New York Dragons played at the Coliseum from 2001 to 2008 in a previous incarnation of the AFL. Ratner also said a pro lacrosse team would play at the arena, joining a minor league hockey squad."Long Islanders want football and we are going to deliver that," said Brett Yormark, chief executive of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which Ratner developed.
New Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd would also host an annual clinic at the Coliseum for local high school coaches, according to Barclays Center spokesman Barry Baum.
The New York Islanders are scheduled to move to the Barclays Center in 2015.
Ratner's $229 million plan includes a separate 2,000-seat indoor theater, an outdoor amphitheater, ice skating rink, restaurants, a movie theater, bowling alley and retail space.
Hank Ratner, president and chief executive of MSG, disclosed plans to improve traffic flow into the Coliseum. MSG would charge visitors in advance for parking, so that entrance gates that can clog traffic along Hempstead Turnpike can be removed.
MSG would spend $250 million to renovate and downsize the Coliseum to 14,500 seats and build an entertainment complex with restaurants, an Islanders-themed sports bar, bowling and billiards.
"The plan is about improving the quality of life on Long Island by creating a sports and entertainment destination that delivers something for everyone 365 days per year," Hank Ratner said.
Richard Guardino Jr., vice president for business development at Hofstra University, and Jeffrey Kraut, senior vice president of strategy and business informatics at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, sent an April 11 letter to Mangano saying the MSG plan is "compatible with the university community." The institutions are partnering on the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.
The letter also said MSG has "the experience and financial strength to move quickly and efficiently to make this project a reality."
However, the letter said their "support for this project is not exclusive to this proposal. We want to support a proposal for the redevelopment of the Coliseum and Hub that aligns with the future plans of the University and provides an opportunity for economic and cultural development."
North Shore-LIJ CEO Michael J. Dowling also has sent letters to Mangano commenting favorably on the Ratner and Blumenfeld proposals. Those letters were not cosigned by Hofstra officials.
Hofstra spokeswoman Karla Schuster declined to expand on the letter and university president Stuart Rabinowitz was not available for comment.
David Blumenfeld, vice president of Syosset-based Blumenfeld Development, expanded on the company's $180 million plan to demolish the existing Coliseum and build a new 9,000- to 12,000-seat arena.
Blumenfeld plans to offer Nassau a lease payment of 20 percent of the arena's net operating income, or $350,000, whichever is greater, according to the firm's request for proposals, which Newsday obtained.
The other bidders declined to say how much they will pay the county in rent.
The existing Coliseum would remain open during the construction of a new arena, Blumenfeld said. The other three proposals involve closing the arena for at least a year while renovations are ongoing.
"We want to make Nassau successful for the next 30 years — not just . . . clean up an existing building and have it be good for three, four or five years," he said.
Blumenfeld also would create a digital memorial and exhibit to Nassau veterans and would sell the naming rights to the arena for an estimated $750,000, according to the RFP documents.
Blumenfeld's plan calls for an expanded convention center, retail and offices, a bowling alley, movie theater and apartments.
Bayville-based New York Sports LLC also updated its $60 million to $90 million plan to refurbish the interior of the arena, which would have 8,000 to 10,000 seats.
Bernard Shereck, the company's chief executive, said New York Sports would renovate the Coliseum's existing exposition space, creating the "largest convention center east of the Javits Center" in Manhattan. Shereck would sell the naming rights to the arena, with the revenue split between the county and an area veterans group.
With Candice Ferrette
The Dolan family holds controlling interest in MSG and owns Cablevision, Newsday's parent company.