Reporting Marcia Kramer
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – You’ve heard about the Subway Series. Well, how about the Expressway Series?
A deal is in the works to bring an independent minor league baseball team to Uniondale‘s Mitchel Athletic Complex. The team would be run by the owner of Suffolk County‘s Long Island Ducks, who are part of the independent Atlantic League.
Nassau County would build the ballpark and make its money back through revenue sharing.
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Ducks owner Frank Boulton said he hopes to do for Nassau what he’s done for Suffolk.
“We’ve sold out our ballpark for now 12 years in Suffolk County,” Boulton said. “We have 6,002 seats. We all know there’s 3 million people here on Long Island. There’s plenty of room for another ballpark.”
Nassau County Executive EdwardMangano is asking voters to approve a referendum on Aug. 1 that would allow the county to spend $400 million to build a new home for the Islanders of the NHL and a 6,000-seat baseball stadium. If passed, the deal would need the approval of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.
“Part of our vision here in Nassau County is to create a sports entertainment destination,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano told CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer.
“We look forward to an ‘Expressway Series’ in 2013.”
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Legislator Wayne Wink said the deal would unfairly burden the county.
“The possibility of a minor league ballpark, while it’s a nice idea for an entertainment value, at the same time to do it at the cost of the taxpayers I think is a mistake,” Wink said.
A lot of Nassau County residents are also frowning on the deal. They don’t think taxpayers should bear the financial risk.
“Minor league baseball, I love and I enjoy it and I’ve been out to Ducks games, and I just don’t feel that the taxpayers should have to pay that end of it. I think we pay enough,” Ben Miller said.
“The private market ought to be able to price the bonds and, if it were a good deal, the people will buy the bonds. If not, then why should the county go into a bad economic deal?” added Jack Furman of Jericho.
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Desmond Ryan, the executive director of the Association for a Better Long Island, is against the complex. The Association is charging that this isn’t about sports franchises; it’s a real estate deal that will allow Charles Wang, the owner of the Islanders, to sell the property and the team in 10 years for a huge profit.
“This is strictly grandstanding on the part of the county executive in an attempt to put forth the referendum which is basically perpetuating a fraud on the taxpayers of Nassau County,” Ryan said.
Mangano and Bolton said they still have to negotiate how much the county would get from the team in fees, information that might not be available before the referendum.
When asked if he really thinks it’s fair to ask voters without knowing all the financials, Mangano said, “yes, because the concept here going forth and asking the people was intended to be the beginning of the process.”
Depending on who you talk to real estate taxes could go up an average of $58 to $300, which gets mixed reviews.
“I’m all for that,” said Rosemary Scott of Westbury.
“No. No more taxes. We had enough out here already,” Uniondale resident Ed McFadden added. “I’m going to vote no.”
“If it’s going to get more jobs around here I have two young kids and it would be nice to create more jobs,” said Dean Knox of Levittown.
“I think it’s ridiculous. We’re already paying too much already,” said Alfredo Rodriguez of Westbury.
If the referendum goes through and if negotiations with the Ducks are successful a contest would be held to name the new team. “Long Island,” not “Nassau County” would be part of the name.
Do you support bringing a minor league baseball team to Long Island? Let us know below…