SBD/May 11, 2011/Facilities

Nassau County Unveils Arena Plan To Keep Islanders Until At Least 2045

Nassau County "wants voters to approve a referendum to borrow up to $400 million for a new arena that would keep the Islanders on Long Island through at least 2045 and also finance construction of a minor-league ballpark," according to Marshall & Brodsky of NEWSDAY. Nassau County Exec Edward Mangano yesterday said that "pending approval by the county legislature, the referendum would be set for Aug. 1." If passed by voters, the plan would replace Islanders Owner Charles Wang's failed Lighthouse Project, and also "would shift a proposed Shinnecock Indian Nation casino" from the Nassau Coliseum site to Belmont Park. Construction on the new arena, "to be built next to the existing Coliseum, would begin next spring." Mangano said that Nassau Coliseum "would be demolished" after the new arena is built. Marshall & Brodsky note the $400M debt service "would be spread out over 30 years -- the same length as a new lease between the county and the Islanders, which would be crafted after the referendum passes." Mangano noted that the proposal "would earmark $350 million for a new arena and $50 million for a minor-league ballpark." Wang said that the plan "allows him to do what he hoped: Keep the Islanders on Long Island." Asked about the team's future if the referendum does not pass, Wang said, "I don't want to contemplate that right now" (NEWSDAY, 5/11). Officials with knowledge of the plan, formally introduced this morning, said that the price "could reach up to $500 million, 20 percent more than Mangano's $400 million estimate just last month" (N.Y. POST, 5/11).

ISLAND OF ADVENTURE: On Long Island, Arthur Staple writes the proposal is "not great news yet," but it is "hope, and that has been in short supply for the Islanders, for their fans and for the NHL in recent years." The promise of a new arena in five years can make Islanders GM Garth Snow's "pitches to big-name free agents feel more substantial in July." Furthermore, this is a "huge day" for the NHL. The Coyotes "have been for sale or on the brink of blowing out of Glendale for two years, a saga that still has no end." The Thrashers "want to move north to Canada," while the Stars are for sale and the Devils are "looking for a stakeholder." But with the Islanders, Wang, Mangano and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "have got what they wanted, at least in principle" (NEWSDAY, 5/11).
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