By Eden Laikin
For a small investment of just pennies a day, Nassau taxpayers could receive a large economic return – more than $1 billion over the term of the loan.
That’s how Nassau officials described County Executive Edward P. Mangano’s proposal for a major Economic Development and Job Creation Plan to build a world-class sports-entertainment destination center at Nassau’s Hub – the site of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Mangano said he would let the taxpayers decide whether they want to move forward with the project, which would create thousands of temporary and permanent construction and secondary jobs, spur the local economy by millions of dollars in sales tax and other revenue and keep Long Island’s only professional sports team from leaving Nassau.
Mangano’s plan to build a new, state-of-the-art sports arena and a minor league ballpark at the Coliseum site – and keep the New York Islanders in Nassau until 2045 – drew loud cheers from hundreds of labor union members gathered in the stands of the Coliseum. Many of them have been out of work.
“Build it now!” the laborers chanted, again and again.
Mangano also announced that he, State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and New York State Senator Jack M. Martins would put their support behind the construction of an Indian gaming casino – atBelmontPark. He said that would “more than likely create thousands of additional jobs.”
“Redeveloping the Hub is critical to creating jobs in our County and stimulating the local economy,” said County Executive Mangano. “With the support of business and community leaders, I am advancing a County-wide public referendum so that residents may decide whether we should build a sports-entertainment destination at the site of Nassau Coliseum that retains our Islanders and creates thousands of jobs.”
Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray agreed. “Given the local economy and prior failed attempts at redevelopment, County Executive Mangano is putting the question of financing the construction of a new sports arena to the people,” she said. Later, she responded to a reporter saying the town was continuing to create its own mixed-use zone for the rest of the 77-acre site.
Islanders owner Charles Wang said the deal for this “iconic venue” does not put the burden on taxpayers.
“Building a new home for our NY Islanders is critical to the future ofLong Island’s only professional sports team,” he said. “The team has earned it, the fans deserve it, and our local economy needs it.”
The public referendum will be held August 1, 2011. Voting yes to a $400 million bond for the Coliseum project would cost the average household about $47 a year. The project would cost an estimated $350 million for the new arena and exhibition hall and $50 million for the minor league stadium and additional improvements to the immediate area. If the vote is successful, the construction of the arena could begin in the summer of 2012 and the Islanders could begin the 2015 hockey season there. The minor league ballpark – which has already sparked interest from several professional ball clubs – could be built sometime in 2012.
NassauCountyofficials said thatSuffolkreceives more than $2 million a year from it’s minor league ball park, without revenue from concessions.
Wang has said he would move the team off ofLong Islandin 2015 when their lease expires, should a new sports arena not be built.
Mangano said that with this deal, the Islanders will compensate residents by paying the County a share of each dollar generated at the new sports arena.
“Nassautaxpayers by paying the County a share of the revenue from the new arena. All operators within the arena will also contribute,” Mangano said. “Revenue-sharing requirements – coupled with sales tax generated from the new facilities – will far exceed financing requirements.”
The Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) would have to approve the borrowing.
CountyExecutiveMangano said he has formed a bipartisan Advisory Committee, to be chaired by businessman Frank Zarb, to consider redevelopment opportunities within Nassau’s Hub. He has charged the committee with making recommendations within six months.
Jimmy Castellane, President of the Nassau-Suffolk Building Trades, was among the plan’s supporters at the announcement.
“With unemployment reaching 30% in the trade sector, this project is critical to the 65,000 workers I represent. This financing model has worked in other municipalities and will result in more money coming back to taxpayers and initially invested.”
The part of theCountyExecutive’s plan which includes the development of an Indian gaming casino atBelmontPark, is to be funded privately by the Shinnecock Indian Nation, which Mangano said will result in an economic boom for the western end ofNassauCountyand tax relief for everyNassauresident.
Once approved by Federal and State officials, an Indian gaming facility will create thousands of additional local jobs and result in hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in local schools, the County and the community, aides to Mangano said.
“With recent Federal recognition of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, a casino onLong Islandis imminent,” said Mangano. “It is important thatNassautaxpayers benefit from the thousands of jobs and millions in annual revenue a casino will generate annually for the State and County.BelmontParkis a good candidate for such a facility.”
New York State Senator Dean Skelos stated, “Now is the time to jump-start our economy and create jobs at bothBelmontParkand Nassau Coliseum.”
New York State Senator Jack M. Martins said “As we move forward in this initiative, I look forward to working with the County and developers to insure that this project is consistent and dovetails with the Elmont community’s vision forBelmont.”
Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz added his support for the plan.
“We have long been a proponent for a sound, mixed use development which would include a state of the art arena, sports and entertainment complex, as well as office and research facilities. I commend theCountyExecutivefor moving forward on these important issues.”
Others who have thrown their support behind Mangano’s plan include the ABLI, several environmental groups, including Sustainable Long Island, developers and tea party activists.
Mangano moves forward with his plan for the HUB after a failed attempt by Wang to build a huge mixed-use development community for the site. Mangano has advanced to theCountyLegislaturethe legislation necessary to hold a County-wide public referendum on August 1, 2011. He said County taxpayers will benefit from millions of dollars in revenue derived annually from the operation of both a new sports arena and minor league baseball stadium, as well as from increased sales tax revenue.
In addition to Wang, Skelos, Castellane and Rabinowitz, the bipartisan Advisory Committee includes: Bob Catell, former Chairman of National Grid; Kevin Law, President of the Long Island Association (LIA); Richard Guardino, former Hempstead Town Supervisor; Michael Maturo, RXR Realty; John Cameron, Chairman of the Long Island Regional Planning Council; Theresa Sanders, CEO of the Long Island affiliate of the National Urban League; Jeffrey Kraut, Senior Vice President for Strategic Planning and Marketing of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System; and Vincent Polimeni, CEO of Polimeni International.
Early in his remarks, Mangano reiterated his long-standing interest in economic development, at that site, as a way to help fixNassau’s economy. And he said that today “is a day that shines of compromise and success.”
“Today, we move forward in a new direction and begin a process that can achieve success,” he told the crowd. “And this time, it’s the real deal.”