Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's plan to transform Nassau Coliseum into a scaled-down arena with 8,000 to 12,000 seats reaches a pivotal juncture Monday when private developers must submit proposals.
Developers have until 5 p.m. to respond to a request for proposals to redevelop and operate the 40-year-old Uniondale arena.
"I am optimistic that the RFP process will return competitive responses to achieve our goal of reinventing the Coliseum so that it successfully hosts family-oriented sports and entertainment events while generating significant revenue for the county and its taxpayers," Mangano said in a statement.
Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin declined last week to identify the expected bidders or comment on how many bids have been received.
The plan to "right-size" the 16,000-seat arena by reducing its seating capacity and focusing on family shows, concerts and minor league sports was conceived by developer Bruce Ratner, who built the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Ratner, who performed an analysis of the Coliseum's long-term prospects at Mangano's request, is expected to bid on the RFP. Barclays spokesman Barry Baum declined to comment.
Mangano has said there is "no deal on the table" for the team to depart early, but language in the RFP allows for the possibility of a "sooner termination" of the team's lease.
The RFP gives preference to bidders with "a commitment from a professional sports franchise" to play at the arena. Political and sports experts have said a revamped Coliseum could host preseason or minor league hockey or basketball.
Nevin declined to comment on the prospect of the team leaving before 2015, citing the ongoing RFP process. Islanders Senior Vice President Michael Picker did not return a request for comment.
County Attorney John Ciampoli said the Islanders need only the permission of the county to break their lease.
Mangano's plan calls for the Coliseum to be significantly downsized, freeing up space in the parking lot for other development. The reconfigured arena would feature wider interior concourses, new restaurants, improved bathrooms and a spruced-up exterior.
Nassau would get a percentage of the gross revenue from arena events. The funds would help pay down the county's $1.2 billion in debt from property tax assessment settlements, Mangano said.
The GOP-controlled county legislature must approve the winning bidder.
The winner of the RFP would work with Donald Monti, president and chief executive of Plainview-based Renaissance Downtowns, who is planning a $2 billion biotech park and mixed-use development on the land surrounding the arena.
Monti said he has been approached by several developers who are planning to bid on the Coliseum, although he declined to identify them.
"I am excited about the prospects," said Monti, who will not bid on the Coliseum RFP. "I am looking forward to working collaboratively with the developer. It will be a real team effort."
The push to redevelop the Coliseum and the surrounding Nassau Hub area comes after past ventures failed to garner enough public and political support. They included the $3.8-billion Lighthouse Project by Islanders owner Charles Wang, and a 2011 plan to build a $400-million publicly funded arena, which residents voted down.