$229 Million Project Would Be Covered By Private Investments

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A $229 million proposal to renovate the Nassau Coliseum has received the support of county lawmakers.

The county legislature voted unanimously 19-0 to support the plan. The deal still requires the approval of a state financial watchdog.
Developer Bruce Ratner’s plan to renovate the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum includes building a retail and entertainment complex with restaurants, an ice rink, a bowling alley and a movie theater.

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But as WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported before the vote, some Nassau Democrats have expressed concerns over the $229 million proposal.

Legislator Judy Jacobs said while she’s likely to vote in favor of the proposal, she added she’s hopeful issues will be resolved ahead of the vote.

“I get the feeling they will work with us. Now I hope I’m right. If they will work with us and concerns come to the surface, then hopefully we’ll see a solution,” Jacobs told Xirinachs. “I certainly would be in favor of voting for this at this point because I don’t think it’s to anyone’s benefit to have something standing in the hub, which is really what’s really going to save Nassau eventually.”

Some of the concerns involved seating capacity and the project’s construction timeline.

The plan calls for the project to be built with private money at no cost to taxpayers.

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The arena once hosted the Stanley Cup Finals and superstar performers such as Elvis Presley and Madonna. But it has become run down over the past four decades, and the Islanders are set to leave for Brooklyn following the 2014-15 season.

In August, Ratner’s group said it envisioned a renovated coliseum hosting championship boxing matches and college and minor league sports. The Islanders will also return to play six games a year there.

“We are ready to get to work to deliver a world-class coliseum and a thriving sports, entertainment and retail center that Long Island deserves,” Ratner said last month.

But economists told Newsday that, while the deal will bring in millions of dollars to the county, they’re concerned the coliseum won’t generate the revenue needed to pay $4.4 million in rent each year.

Ratner must now negotiate labor agreements and find a minor league hockey team to replace the Islanders. Ratner was behind Barclays Center, which in its first year brought in the most concert revenue of any U.S. arena.

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