Coliseum 'revenue-share' short on detail

Nassau County wants voters to approve a referendum to borrow up to $400 million for a new arena that would keep the Islanders on Long Island through at least 2045. Videojournalist: Kathy Kmonicek (May 11, 2011)

Nassau County wants voters to approve a referendum to borrow up to $400 million for a new arena that would keep the Islanders on Long Island through at least 2045. Videojournalist: Kathy Kmonicek (May 11, 2011)

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Nassau residents may not know all the details of a revenue-sharing agreement to build a new home for the New York Islanders before they cast their ballots on the plan by Aug. 1, county officials said Wednesday.

If the county Legislature approves, residents will go to the polls then to vote on a referendum that would allow Nassau to borrow up to $400 million to construct a new hockey arena next to the Nassau Coliseum and a minor-league ballpark at nearby Mitchel Field.

However, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state watchdog which controls the county's finances, saying it was "deeply concerned about the county executive's proposal and its fiscal implications for the county."

NIFA, which would have to approve the borrowing, said there was "no coordination ... regarding this major proposal ...

"As we await necessary information from the county regarding the 2011 and 2012 budgets, NIFA requires details of this new plan, which must be evaluated in the context of the county's fiscal crisis, the wage freeze on county employees and the reductions in services to county residents," the statement said.

Discussion of the borrowing arrangements came as Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Islanders owner Charles Wang announced a new effort to renovate the aging Coliseum.

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During a news conference at the Coliseum, Mangano explained that the teams would compensate residents by paying the county a share of each dollar generated at the two new facilities.

The revenue-sharing agreement, coupled with sales tax revenue generated from the new facilities and the 3,300 new construction jobs, would offset and likely exceed the costs of the borrowing, officials said.

"In short, this plan requires private-sector operators to compensate the county the costs of financing the plan," Mangano said.

But he repeatedly suggested that the plan "is intended to not cost taxpayers a single dime."

However, pressed for details about the revenue-sharing agreement -- and whether those figures would be available to the public before the August vote -- Mangano said, "If it can be done, it will be."

Neither Mangano nor Wang was able to provide specific dollar figures regarding what county residents should expect back in return for the $400 million bonding approval.

Mangano said Nassau would first need to commit to building and financing a new Islanders arena and baseball park before revenue-sharing agreements can be finalized.

"We will not entertain any contractual relationships that do not produce annual recurring revenue sharing from their operations," Mangano said.

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