The bidders include Syosset developer Ed Blumenfeld, who said he submitted a plan to build a scaled-down arena to replace the current 16,000-seat Coliseum, and the Madison Square Garden Company, which owns the New York Knicks, the New York Rangers and venues including Madison Square Garden.
"With responses received from four high-level entertainment developers, we remain very encouraged that a plan for a midsized sports entertainment venue is in Nassau's future," said County Executive Edward Mangano.
Blumenfeld is proposing construction of an entirely new arena that could be filled more than 200 nights a year. The building would accommodate larger exhibition events and "Class A acts and entertainment, not castoffs that are not going to the Garden or Barclays," said Blumenfeld, referring to Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Blumenfeld said his plan includes additional development at the site, such as shopping, and other entertainment and residential space. He did not disclose other details about those plans.
MSG spokeswoman Kimberly Kerns did not provide details of the company's proposal but said, "We find the idea of a sports-and-entertainment complex on Long Island interesting and believe that this is a unique opportunity to bring the MSG brand, along with our expertise in operating and booking venues, to help develop a thriving sports and entertainment destination. Long Island is a great market that deserves a premier venue . . . "
The Dolan family holds controlling interest in the Garden, and also owns Cablevision, Newsday's parent company.
Ratner, who performed an analysis of the Coliseum's long-term prospects at Mangano's request, had been expected to bid, although his spokesman, Barry Baum, declined to comment Monday.
Nassau is seeking to reduce the 16,000-seat arena to 8,000 to 12,000 seats. The county's plans, conceived by Ratner, focus on attracting family shows, concerts and minor league sports.
The Islanders professional hockey team, the Coliseum's primary tenant, is scheduled to leave in 2015 to play at Barclays.
Nassau would get a percentage of 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.
"I'm extremely pleased that there seems to be some competition," said Kevin Law, head of the Long Island Association, the region's largest business group.
Blumenfeld competed in two previous RFP processes for the same site -- one in 2005, eventually won by New York Islanders owner Charles Wang and again last year, when Renaissance Downtowns chief Donald Monti was selected as the site's master developer.
"We've spent countless amounts of money on the various proposals that we've done on this site over the years," Blumenfeld said. "We're tenacious about it because we think it is the linchpin of Nassau County. We think Nassau County deserves to have the best development that can be brought there."
Blumenfeld said he had not yet secured a professional sports team to play at the new facility, noting that the 30-day time period since the RFP was announced was not enough time to get such a commitment.