UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — On Long Island, there’s a new plan to make the Nassau Coliseum smaller and though taxpayers want change, they don’t want to pay for it.
“If it’s out of taxpayer money, I don’t know,” said one man.
“I’ve always been an Islanders fan. I personally wish they would stay,” remarked another.
But the Islanders aren’t staying. They are skating off to Brooklyn in 2015, leaving cash-strapped Nassau County once again on the hot seat to come up with a critically needed plan to save its arena.
The county is now looking for bidders to invest in one of the most valuable parcels of land in the New York-metro area.
“The plan is practical, sustainable and most importantly 100 percent privately financeable,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan on Thursday.
The linchpin of Mangano’s State of the County address centered on a new proposal to downsize and revamp the coliseum to attract concerts, family shows and minor league teams.
He said the winning bidder would do the following:
* Renovate to seating capacity of 8,000 to 12,000.
* Pay the entire cost of the renovation
* Lease the coliseum to the county
* Make annual rental payments
* Be responsible for all maintenance
“If you have less seats, you’re gonna have less customers, therefore less revenue. It doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Uniondale homeowner Tim Trotman.
But students from Hofstra University and Nassau Community College had a different take, CBS 2’s McLogan reported.
Darold Bien-Aime of the Coliseum Deli said local businesses remember the recently failed Lighthouse Project of Islanders owner Charles Wang and a publicly funded arena, voted down by residents.
“I really hope they can get this project started,” Bien-Aime said.
There is a blueprint in place for developing land around the coliseum still waiting for the arena’s future
“Surrounding this sporting venue and this retail dining and entertainment venue are offices and research and development,” said Donald Monti of Renaissance Downtowns, Inc.
Some county legislators on both sides of the aisle have said it’s time to start putting shovels in the ground.
Over the next month, the county will be seeking proposals from firms to re-develop and operate the Nassau Coliseum.
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