Nassau Dems push new Coliseum plan

A view of Nassau Coliseum before the New A view of Nassau Coliseum before the New York Islanders play against the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Oct. 25, 2011) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Nassau Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs has unveiled an alternative proposal to build a new Nassau Coliseum using private and county dollars.

But County Executive Edward Mangano's office dismissed Jacobs' plan, and Nassau Democrats, who are in the minority in the legislature, have little leverage to implement it. Construction of a new arena is expected to cost about $400 million.

Jacobs said roughly $320 million would come from Islanders owner Charles Wang, along with possible funding from the state, other private investors and a potential increase in sales tax revenue that the new arena would be expected to generate.

The county would borrow the remaining $80 million and repay it over 30 years with proceeds from the entertainment tax on each ticket sold at the Coliseum, Jacobs said. The $1.50 tax currently generates $1.5 million annually for the general fund. A new arena with increased attendance would generate about $2.65 million a year, according to county documents.

The plan does not detail how the general fund would make up the lost revenue. But Jacobs said property taxes would not increase. "Under no circumstances is the property taxpayer harmed here," he said.

The new proposal comes as Mangano, a Republican, is seeking a "master developer" for the Hub property. The winning developer would be required to begin negotiations with the Islanders, who have said they will leave in 2015 unless a new arena is built. Mangano's plan does not involve county funds.

"Democrat boss Jacobs offers obvious components that have already been suggested," county spokesman Brian Nevin said. "However, if he has something serious to add he is welcome to respond to County Executive Mangano's RFQ."

Islanders senior vice president Michael Picker did not return calls for comment.

Mangano's strategy will take too long to execute and handcuff the county's ability to negotiate with Wang, Jacobs said. His plan, he said, could be executed immediately via a memorandum of understanding among Wang, Mangano and the legislature.

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