Mixed response to downsized Coliseum plan

A file photo of the Nassau Coliseum. A file photo of the Nassau Coliseum. Photo Credit: Getty Images, 2011

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The downsized Nassau Coliseum proposed by County Executive Edward Mangano drew mixed responses from area business and political leaders Wednesday.

Mangano is seeking proposals from firms to redevelop and operate a Coliseum with 8,000 to 12,000 seats for family shows, concerts and minor league sports. The Coliseum has more than 16,000 seats.

Kevin Law, who heads the Long Island Association, the area's major business group, said "it is uncertain if a smaller, renovated, venue makes financial sense. What is certain is that if the Coliseum remains, there will be less land available to develop something else -- which may prevent the highest and best use of the site."

Desmond Ryan, head of the Association for a Better Long Island, a developer group, said "we support the county's insistence . . . to create the best possible economic return." Ryan said that would require "a close coordination of not just the Coliseum redeveloper but the master developer charged with looking at the entire Hub."

Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), minority leader of the county legislature, said: "We'd support a smaller-scale venue, but it's time to stop holding news conferences and start putting shovels in the ground."

Adam Haber, a Democratic candidate for county executive, noted that the Islanders, the Coliseum's primary tenant, will depart in 2015 to play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Haber called Mangano's proposal "another admission from Mangano that Nassau is never again going to have a major league sports team."

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Former County Executive Thomas Suozzi, who lost to Mangano in 2009 and is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge him, said "whether big or small, the Coliseum issue is too complex for Mangano."

Brian Nevin, Mangano's spokesman, said that residents in the Roslyn school district, where Haber served on the board, chose to vote against the Coliseum proposal because their school taxes were so high.

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