Blumenfeld joins Ratner in Coliseum pitch
Syosset developer Ed Blumenfeld, who missed becoming a finalist to overhaul the Nassau Coliseum, has joined developer Bruce Ratner to compete with the Madison Square Garden Co. for the multimillion-dollar project.
Ratner, executive chairman of Forest City Ratner Cos., said Wednesday that Blumenfeld, president of the Blumenfeld Development Group, would help develop the project's retail and restaurant components. They provided few specifics about their partnership.
Ratner said Blumenfeld has decades of experience with Long Island development and would identify local tenants for the project and help navigate the community review process.
"Ed had a great proposal," Ratner said. "We think we have a great proposal. But we think ours is the one we should come together on."
Said Blumenfeld: "The goal here is to deliver the best project for Nassau County taxpayers and residents."
Last week, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano named Ratner and the Madison Square Garden Co. as finalists for the Coliseum overhaul. Mangano said he will execute contracts containing the two developers' final offers and would make a final decision by mid-August. Blumenfeld and another bidder, New York Sports of Bayville, were not given contracts. Mangano declined to comment for this story.
In a statement Wednesday, MSG said its plan "represents the best and most realistic opportunity to revitalize the Nassau Coliseum and Nassau County. With our vision and proven track record in revitalizing and operating several world-class venues, MSG's plan will achieve a bold reimagining of the Nassau Coliseum site as a thriving, 365-day a year destination."
Blumenfeld said that Mark Rosentraub, director of the University of Michigan's Center for Sport Management and a consultant on his original proposal, also would be involved.
Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark has had preliminary conversations with the Big Ten and the Pac-12 about bringing basketball games to the Coliseum in Uniondale and is also negotiating to bring a preseason Atlantic 10 basketball tournament to the reconfigured arena, Ratner officials said. Long Island University and St. Francis College have played games at Barclays, and Ratner officials envision teams from Hofstra and Stony Brook universities playing games at the Coliseum.
SMG, the current operator of the Coliseum and a partner on Blumenfeld's original bid, will not play a role in Ratner's project.
Ratner's $229 million proposal would renovate the Coliseum and provide for 13,000 seats, with the ability to go down to 4,000 as needed. The plan calls for an outdoor amphitheater that can be converted to an ice-skating rink and a separate 2,000-seat indoor theater, restaurants, a bowling alley or movie theater and retail.
Ratner, who will be bringing the Islanders from the Coliseum to his Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2015, wants to bring minor league hockey, lacrosse and Arena Football League teams to the Coliseum. Ratner would have the Islanders return to the Coliseum to play six regular or preseason games a year, although it's unclear if the National Hockey League would greenlight the plan.
MSG, which is partnering with The Cordish Cos., Jones Lang LaSalle, a commercial real estate firm, and Uniondale developer Scott Rechler, has pitched a $250 million renovation that would create a 14,500-seat arena, which could go down to 1,700 seats as needed.
At least one of MSG's sports franchises -- the WNBA's New York Liberty; the Connecticut Whale, the Rangers' minor league affiliate; or the Erie Bayhawks, the Knicks' D-League team -- would play at the Coliseum. A "Long Island Live!" entertainment complex would include an Islanders-themed sports bar, other restaurants and bowling.
Both projects would be privately funded.
Ratner and Blumenfeld first worked together 13 years ago on East River Plaza, a big-box mall along the FDR Drive in East Harlem. Ratner said he made an offer several months ago to Blumenfeld to join his team, but Blumenfeld chose to submit his own bid.
The new partnership leaves unclear the role of Donald Monti, who was selected by Mangano last year as the Coliseum's "master developer."
Monti, the president and chief executive officer of Renaissance Downtowns in Plainview, has proposed a $600 million technology park for the Hub, but Ratner said his plan does not leave space vacant for additional development.
"We don't know what Monti's role is but we'd be happy to talk to him," said David Blumenfeld, a Blumenfeld Development Group vice president.
Monti spokesman Brandon Palanker responded: "We are the designated master developer, selected through a competitive RFQ process and as such, we will continue to work and act in good faith in that role."
The Dolan family owns controlling interest in MSG and owns Cablevision, Newsday's parent company.