Ratner Discusses Nassau Coliseum Plans, Prospects Of Islanders Leaving Before '15
Forest City Ratner Chair & CEO Bruce Ratner on Friday said that he will "remake Nassau Coliseum and the surrounding 77 acres of blacktop into a sprawling sports and entertainment complex that will become a destination for county residents for generations to come," according to Robert Brodsky of NEWSDAY. Ratner said, "This will become one of the greatest arenas in the world." Ratner added that he "hopes to relocate" the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Islanders' AHL affiliate, to Nassau Coliseum "after the building is renovated." The move "would require an agreement" with Islanders and Sound Tigers Owner Charles Wang. The Islanders are scheduled to move from the Coliseum to Barclays Center in '15. The Sound Tigers currently have a contract to play in Bridgeport, Conn. The team said on Friday in a statement, "The Sound Tigers love being in Bridgeport and absolutely plan on spending at least the next seven AHL seasons here." Ratner "shot down speculation that the Islanders would leave the Coliseum early." He said that it is "'highly likely' the team will remain for two more years." Ratner "plans to have professional lacrosse, boxing and Arena Football League games at the scaled-down, 13,000-seat Coliseum." He is "negotiating with the Atlantic 10, Big 10 and Pac 12 college basketball divisions to hold tournaments" (NEWSDAY, 8/17).
SPECTACULAR BID: On Long Island, Randi Marshall wrote under the header, "How Forest City Ratner Won The Coliseum Contract," noting the company "won the bid with a final lease that gives the county 8 percent of all gross revenue." County officials said that "in the end, it was the financial impact on the county that became the deciding factor." Officials also said that they "tried to focus" finalists Forest City Ratner and Madison Square Garden Co. "in the final weeks on limiting the county's expenses, particularly for utilities and maintenance, taking ownership and control of the arena as early as possible, and giving the county revenue even before a newly renovated arena opened." John Gowell, an attorney for Nassau County, "encouraged both finalists to consider committing to additional revenue payments before and during construction." Gowell said that Ratner "agreed, while MSG ultimately did not." Gowell: "Part of that is strategic, since we wanted to have a developer that's willing to put skin in the game on Day 1, even when it's going to cost money. The Forest City team was much more aggressive." Businessman Bert Brodsky, who was involved in some of the later discussions about the project, said that the "difference between the two finalists came down to 'flexibility.'" Brodsky: "Barclays wanted this project, even to the point where as an example, [Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark] said, 'I'll move to Long Island.' They bent over backwards to get it" (NEWSDAY, 8/18).
NO PLACE LIKE HOME: FORBES.com's Tom Van Riper wondered with the Nassau Coliseum renovations planned, "Why do the Islanders need to move at all? Couldn’t the proposal be expanded just a bit to meet NHL standards?" With the Islanders "now showing strong signs of improvement, a rebirth in Nassau County would seem to carry the largest potential upside" (FORBES.com, 8/16).