Legislature mulls $4M in Coliseum repairs

The Nassau Coliseum. (June 18, 2011)

The Nassau Coliseum. (June 18, 2011) (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

Three weeks before the public votes on whether to spend hundreds of millions on a new Nassau Coliseum, the county legislature will consider a request Monday to spend an additional $4 million in capital repairs on the existing arena.

The funds, needed to keep the Coliseum operating safely for the next four years, are unrelated to the Aug. 1 vote, which would allow the county to spend up to $400 million on a new arena and minor league baseball park, said New York Islanders senior vice president Michael Picker.

The team will play at the Coliseum at least through the 2015 season, when the Islanders lease agreement with Nassau expires. Islanders owner Charles Wang has said he will move the team if a new arena isn't built.

"As per our agreement with Nassau, the county is responsible for capital repairs and this money will be used to address issues for the building," Picker said.

The funds will go toward fixing or replacing the outer doors of the building, repairing a leaking roof and ice refrigeration system, and replacing the first level of seats that move in and out for events.

"This is part of the capital plan submitted in October to address liabilities the county faces under the current contract," said Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano. "The Aug. 1 public referendum provides taxpayers the opportunity to earn dollars rather than lose them."

The Coliseum funds are part of a larger capital expenditure package that must be approved by the full legislature.

The existing contract between Nassau and the Islanders requires the county to pay for nearly all repairs to the 39-year-old arena, the second-oldest active facility in the NHL.

A new lease agreement between the county and the team would allow the parties to split the burden of caring for a new Coliseum.

The Islanders will handle the expense of major renovations and annual repairs of $500,000 or less, according to the lease.

The lease also guarantees the county 11.5 percent of all revenue inside the Coliseum -- including hockey games, concerts and family shows -- for a minimum of $14 million per year.

County officials said the terms of the old deal demonstrate the need for a new arena.

"The county is required to spend significant dollars to ensure the safety of spectators and maintain the aging Coliseum," said Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin. "Nassau pays all capital repairs at the Coliseum as a result of an outdated contract signed decades ago."

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