Nassau County Launching Latest Attempt to Get Isles A New Arena
By Christian Arnold (@CA_NYHockey)
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is releasing a Request for Qualifications on Monday in the hopes of finding a developer to renovate or build a new Nassau Coliseum and develop the surrounding area, according to Newsday.
The deadline will be set for July 30 and seeks a renovated or new building for the New York Islanders, a 3,000- space parking garage, convention space, a biotech park, as well as retail and housing. The winning developer of the RFQ will be required to immediately begin negotiating with the Islanders and SMG, the Coliseum’s management company.
The reasoning behind this latest attempt to jump start redevelopment at the Coliseum site is to make up the difference between what Isles owner Charles Wang is willing to pay and the total price for a new or renovated building. There is no word on how much Wang would contribute, but no county money is involved.
It is a safe bet Wang will not submit an RFQ. In February team senior vice president Michael Picker told Islanders Hockey Blog that it was unlikely Wang would be involved in the bidding process to redevelop the site.
The Islanders lease at Nassau Coliseum runs out in 2015 and it is quite well know the team will not play there past their lease. There is an October pre-season game scheduled at the newly constructed Barclay Center in Brooklyn, which could serve as a long-term or short-term solution to the Isles arena situation. Picker also said back in February that the team had discussions with other municipalities about venue locations.
“We have spoken to many different people in many different locations,” he told Islanders Hockey Blog. “About options that they have for a new venue and a home for the New York Islanders. We believe there are many options and if it requires us to look at something other than Nassau County, then we’ll do that.”
Reception to the new plan seems positive. Town of Hempstead spokesperson Michael Deery told Newsday that they “applaud any efforts” for development that fit the town’s zoning guidelines and spurs economic activity.
Desmond Ryan, executive director of the Association For a Better Long Island, called this “the light at the end of the tunnel after a 20-year saga.” And Vincent Polimeni, also of the ABLI, said he’s “interested.” Though Polimeni is the same person who told CBS New York to make the assumption that the Islanders are leaving.
Interestingly enough the only negative comments came from Nassau Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs, who called Mangano’s plan “counterproductive.” According to Jacobs, it removes the county’s ability to deal directly with the Islanders’ leadership.
Jacobs was outspoken in his opposition to last years failed referendum that would have allowed the county to borrow $400 million to build a new arena. And with Mangano being a Republican and Jacobs a Democrat there is most likely some sort of political agenda behind Jacob’s latest criticisms.
It is not yet know what will come out of this latest attempt to jum pstart development of the Nassau Coliseum site, but Islander fans will watch it with bated breath hoping for a resolution to what is a nearly 20 year saga.