Monti backs MSG bid for Coliseum revamp
Plainview developer Donald Monti -- selected by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano as the master developer of the Hub area -- on Monday endorsed the Madison Square Garden Company's bid to overhaul the Coliseum.
MSG is competing with Forest City Ratner Companies for a multimillion-dollar contract to revamp and operate the aging arena.
Monti, chief executive of Plainview-based Renaissance Downtowns, said that, "after thoroughly evaluating the proposals, it is clear that no one has a better track record than MSG at successfully revitalizing venues."
MSG's past projects include renovations of Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan, and the company is in the final phase of a $1 billion renovation of Madison Square Garden. MSG is proposing a $250 million project to renovate the Coliseum and create an entertainment district that will feature restaurants and sports bars.
The $229 million Forest City Ratner plan calls for an outdoor amphitheater that can be converted to an ice-skating rink, a separate 2,000-seat indoor theater, restaurants, a bowling alley or movie theater and retail.
Madison Square Garden Company president and chief executive Hank Ratner said that, "to have someone like Don, who has such a vested interest in the success of Nassau County, endorse our plan is extremely gratifying."
Monti has proposed a technology park for the Hub area, but in past presentations neither MSG nor Forest City Ratner has mentioned how Monti's plans fit into their proposals.
Monti's endorsement came a week after Syosset developer Ed Blumenfeld announced he was partnering with Forest City Ratner developer Bruce Ratner on his bid to renovate the Coliseum.
"We offer the best team for Nassau, and adding Long Island developer Ed Blumenfeld to our formidable group just made us even better," Bruce Ratner, whose projects include the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, said Monday.
Bert Brodsky, chairman of a 17-member business panel that is advising Mangano on the choice of a Coliseum bidder, said endorsements such as Monti's carry only so much weight. Mangano says he will make a decision by mid-August.
"He's weighing in with his opinion. . . . Everybody is weighing in with their opinion," Brodsky said of Monti. "I think everyone is making their decision on the quality of people making the proposal, more than other people's opinions."
Lee Koppelman, director of Stony Brook University's Center of Regional Policy Studies, said Mangano and the business advisory panel should be guided by "the merits of each proposal," not each company's local alliances. "The fact that there's a certain amount of musical chairs going on should have nothing to do with the choice," he said.
The Dolan family holds controlling interest in MSG and owns Cablevision, Newsday's parent company.