Newsday reporter Randi Marshall hosted a live chat July 27 about Nassau Coliseum's development plans and the August 1 vote.
Click below to read through the questions and answers.
From Lynn Thompson:
How much, how little, if anything will the new Coliseum cost taxpayers?
RM: The full cost of the referendum, which includes the Coliseum and a minor league ballpark is $400 million. That, plus interest, translates into about $58 per household...
Nassau County says the deal really costs homeowners $13.80 - because they will receive a minimum revenue stream from the Coliseum but there is no guarantee that revenue will directly offset taxes...
So the definitive answer is $58 on average per household. It could be more or less depending on what your house is assessed at.
From Kathi Dolan Schwan
Will Charles Wang (and the Islanders) leave Nassau if his proposal is rejected?
RM: Charles Wang has said he will not stay in the Coliseum past 2015 - when his current lease expires - without a new building. He has not shared whether he has specific offers of alternative places to go.
From Kim Densen Nacionales
What is being said about the traffic that would increase the already congested roads around the coliseum?
RM: To date, traffic mitigation is not part of the referendum plan. There are no plans to make changes to the roadways in the area. But the referendum does include a cushion - since the ballpark isn't expected to cost more than $25 million - so the rest of that money could be used for other improvements.
From Doug M
Yesterday Wang brought up the naming right to the coliseum. Do you know if this is included in their projections? There is big money in these deal and this seems to be overlooked.
RM: Yes, naming rights are included in the projections. There is no definitive deal for naming rights - but it is assumed that part of that revenue could go to the county.
What does this deal mean for other development around the Coliseum? Does Wang get to build other stuff there too? Or is it just a parking lot?
RM: The lease is for the entire 77 acres surrounding the Coliseum - so it gives Wang a say in what is built on the property. For now, the lease allows for a new arena and a surface parking lot. Any development that occurs there in later years would have to replace the parking. The county says it retains development rights - and that any developer would be able to bid for future development on the site. But that developer would have to pay for a parking garage, too.
From Kim Densen Nacionales
Is there a stipulation that they can only hire Nassau county businesses and contractors to work on the new coliseum or can any contractor bid on the jobs including out of state/city contractors?
RM: There is no requirement that the county has to hire Nassau County businesses or contractors. There is also no requirement that the job has to be a unionized job. But the lease suggests that all reasonable attempts should be made at making it a union job. The deal could, however, include out of state contractors, according to the terms of the deal.
From Howard Schoenfeld
What permanent jobs will it provide?
RM: The county and the Islanders say the deal will create more than 3,000 permanent jobs. That includes jobs at the Coliseum and jobs at surrounding restaurants, shops etc...
Note, however, that that number includes existing jobs - which the county says would disappear if the Coliseum closes.
What are the plans for the area if the coliseum vote is "no" and the islanders move? Will there still be a tax hike to make up for lost revenue generated by the coliseum and the islanders?
RM: Edward Mangano told Newsday that there is a "plan B" if the vote is a No on Monday. But Wang has said there is no plan B for the Islanders. Either way, the county says that if the Islanders leave and the Coliseum closes, it would mean a $16 per household (on average) tax hike per year.
Where do you go vote?
RM: *Most* folks will go to their usual polling places to vote. But about 60,000 residents will have alternative voting sites. Watch Newsday for more detail- or check the county Board of Elections web site, which soon should be able to tell you if you need to vote somewhere other than your usual spot.
I read yesterday that a "track" was being considered as part of the deal...is this like Belmont?
RM: No, not like Belmont. This would be a six lane running track - not a horse racing track. It would be an indoor track and field facility used for meets, etc. that could also be turned into convention space by putting a temporary floor down.
What happens if Wang goes bankrupt?
RM: The county and Islanders say that the National Hockey League would step in, as it has done in the past, to foot the bill if the team goes bankrupt.
From Kathi Dolan Schwan
Why are they spending this kind of money when people are unemployed and losing their homes?
RM: The county says the deal will provide jobs and economic revenue for the area residents. Officials also say that if the Islanders leave, it would mean higher taxes and a loss of more than 2,000 jobs...
They also note that it will create construction jobs for the next few years.
How does Hoifstra Univ. feel about this development?
RM: Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinowitz is a member of the Hub Advisory Committee, which is supposed to advise County Exec Mangano on the development of the Hub area, including the Coliseum. The group hasn't met yet, however, and Hofstra hasn't taken an official position on the referendum.
Why not have the vote on Election Day in November?
RM: The county says that by having it in August, it gives college students and others a chance to vote who normally wouldn't bother voting in November. County Exec Mangano has also suggested that it keeps the vote away from what he calls the "silly season" in terms of politics...
But opponents suggest that the reason why the vote is being held in August is to keep turnout low - so that strong supporters show up to the polls, while opponents may not bother.
When the county loses the revenue from losing the coliseum, how will the county make up for that lost revenue? Will it not be from raising our property taxes anyway?
RM: The county's economic consultants say that taxes would have to go up $16 per year if the Coliseum closes, to make up for lost tax revenue. The consultant says that the County would lose $8 million a year in tax revenue if the Coliseum closes...
That assumes that area residents won't spend the money they once spent at the Coliseum on anything else in Nassau County - that all of the money once spent in the Coliseum would now leave Nassau County entirely.
Why does it matter if the revenue directly offsets the costs? It's still money in that benefits the county and the residents . I don't understand why everyone who seems to be against this plan uses that line. Could you please explain that?
RM: Certainly any revenue that comes into the county would be better than no revenue. But if it does not directly offset taxes, than area homeowners will not see a change in their tax bills at all. They will still see the $58 per year increase (over 30 years) without a matching decrease from the revenue stream...
So, it's tricky to use the other cost numbers the county has been floating because it's not what homeowners will actually see on their taxes unless the revenues do directly go towards a matching tax decrease.
I think the development is a good idea. If it passes, how soon would construction begin?
RM: Charles Wang has said that construction should start in June of 2012, and finish before the 2015-2016 hockey season. But there are many steps before that can happen...
If the vote passes on Monday, additional legal paperwork needs to be finished and then the Legislature and NIFA (the state fiscal watchdog) still have to approve the deal. Then an architect needs to create renderings, and the construction needs to be put out for bid...
So there's still a ways to go.
Has this type of an agreement been done in any other arena/stadium across the country?
RM: This is a fairly unusual agreement. Revenue deals have been done before - with mixed results. But it's rare that it's done with a General Obligation bond (which means the taxpayer is ultimately on the hook) and it's rare that it's revenue sharing of this magnitude...
The county, however, says General Obligation bonds are cheaper (interest rate and cost wise) and therefore this makes sense, even though ultimately it's the taxpayer on the hook, as opposed to the revenue stream itself.
There has been no discussion of ticket prices in the new building. Given the substantial ticket price increases at the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, what percent increase can fans expect once the new building is finished?
RM: The revenue projections suggest an average ticket price of $60, which does indeed represent a fairly substantial increase from current Islanders prices...
The Islanders themselves, however, provided projections with even higher average ticket prices - and suites and club seats that would cost upwards of $100 per ticket.
From Mark Messier
Randi, if Wang was willing to finance the Lighthouse, why isnt he willing to finance this project? The cost is much less.
Thank you, Randi...great job!
RM: Wang says he tried to privately finance it once - and it didn't fly - and now this is the deal on the table - and that's the only option. He has said in the past that it would not be profitable to only build the Coliseum out of his private funds. County officials have said it costs a lot more (interest rate wise) for private financing than for public financing - making it tougher to make a profit...
And Wang points out that the county gets all of the tax revenue - which helps increase its profit. If he were privately financing it, he wouldn't get any of the tax revenue, of course...
But the bottom line is that Wang has made clear that a privately financed Coliseum is no longer an option... that the option on the table is to finance it through tax dollars (and the revenue sharing plan).
Randi, the $58 figure has been totally discredited. It assumes zero revenue from the arena.
RM: There is no guarantee that the revenue sharing will go back to the taxpayer. Therefore, the taxpayer expense is on average $58 per household per year for 30 years. If there was a guarantee that the revenue sharing would go back to the taxpayer, than the other numbers would make sense...
But from the standpoint of your tax bill, you will not see a direct offset from the revenue sharing - and therefore, the full amount of the debt service will end up on the tax bill...
The revenue sharing could, however, help to offset future tax increases, as it helps pay down debt or allows for hiring and other spending.
Why hasn't the County fully disclosed their Plan B option if the referendum is voted down? Shouldn't all the options be presented to the public before they vote?
RM: I assume the reason the county isn't disclosing its Plan B is because it wants Plan A approved. The county has said there are options, but hasn't specified what those options are. Wang, however, has said there are no other options for the Islanders/Coliseum.
You referance the $16 in the report as fact but the $11 to $58 dollar tax is an issue. Why do people pick and choose? this is importent!
RM: All of these numbers are based on projections and come with assumptions...
The $16 figure assumes taxpayers do not spend their Coliseum dollars in Nassau County once the building closes...
The $58 figure assumes that the revenue sharing does not go towards the tax bill - and that the taxpayer foots the bil for the entire debt service (which including interest is more than $800 million)...
The $13.80 figure assumes that the county gets its minimum floor of revenue sharing ($14 million plus $5 million or so in taxes) - AND that that revenue goes to offset taxes...
Every figure is based on assumptions and projections from the Islanders and the county - so each needs to be considered with those assumptions and projections built in.
...and have any of those projects turned out the way they were sold to the public? Have they ended up costing the taxpayers more or less than anticipated?
RM: It's a mixed bag. Sports economists suggest that most arenas funded with public dollars do not turn out to be as financially successful as their cities' officials projected they would be. They point to assumptions on attendance, for instance, that end up not coming true past Year 1 or Year 2 of a new arena...
And some arenas or stadiums have completely failed financially...
But each arena's setup is different - and so the Islanders say you can't make comparisons between other arenas' successes or failures and their own plans.
From Pat Dibs
Is there any current polls that show where we stand?
Thank you I knew that but many people just started following this unlike us fans who have been on this rollercoaster for many years.
Thanks Randi- great job hosting this chat.
RM: Newsday's own poll (done with Siena) showed that voters would say no to the referendum, although they did support the concept of a new arena and the Islanders' attempts to stay. Not too many other polls on the referendum question have been done...
And there are a lot of unknowns here in terms of turnout, especially since it's a special election in the summertime with a single issue at hand.
Have there been any prominent opponents who have come out and said that their preference is to simply turn it over to the private sector? That would certainly provide the most guaranteed flow of revenue to the county. Yet no public opponents seem to be making that argument. Why not?
RM: Yes, there have been opponents, including a regional real estate group and some on the Democrats' side of the aisle, who have suggested making this a privately funded project or sending out a Request for Proposals for the entire swath of land.
From Fred Boyle
Why bother adding the minor league baseball team? It is complicated and costly enough.
RM: The county says they want to create a "sports entertainment destination" - which would include more than just the Coliseum. They say the Ducks have been successful for Suffolk County - so it's just another economic engine...
But no revenue sharing projections have been announced for the ballpark so it's impossible to assess those statements right now.
From Doug M
Wouldn't extending the proposed lease another 5 or 10 years or changing the 14 mil to say 16 mil bring down the dreaded $58 tax increase?
RM: The $58 increase is without any revenue sharing assumptions (including the $14 minimum) so changing the minimum wouldn't affect the $58 figure. Extending the lease would provide more revenue - but that, too, wouldn't directly offset taxes unless the county guaranteed that the revenue stream would go to offset the tax bill. That hasn't happened yet.
Randy, everyone is so quick to say that the "58.00" tax increase, per household, is not the route to go. My question is: Where does this "58.00" number come from, considering an independent agency has already discounted that number, and why should Nassau County residents not want to invest in their county? It is, afterall, the COUNTY'S building, and without Charles Wang, it will be impossible to build a new building without taxes going up. It seems to me that everyone is playing a political game, but hopefully this time it won't ruin the county's future.
RM: The independent agency (the Office of Legislative Budget Review) has said that the only way the $58 figure would be lower (i.e. its own $13.80 projection, based on the minimum revenue sharing) is if the revenue dollars go towards a homeowner's tax bill. That is not guaranteed...
The county and the Islanders have pitched this, indeed, as an investment, saying the county would get back far more (including, they say $400 million in profit beyond the debt service) if this project goes forward - and would lose far more if the Coliseum closes.
From just wondering
There is certainly a lot of controversy surrounding this proposal.....
Was there this much negativity when the Coliseum was originally built in the 1970's?
RM: An excellent question - and one I don't really know the answer to. I do know that the vast majority of residents were excited at the time to be chosen for an expansion hockey team - so that may have been a factor. If you'd like to email me, I'll be glad to look into it further and get back to you.
Hi Randy, OK, it's day after Jay Jacobs made a fool of himself on WFAN. PSL's? What is the word around the hallways of his statements? Do the Dems think he hurt the cause?
RM: I haven't talked to the Dems today so I don't know - but can check into it. As far as I know, both those opposed and those in support are moving forward with various rallies and press conferences and advertising today and in the days ahead to push their cases.
What is Mangano's "plan b" - another shopping mall?
RM: Besides saying there was a Plan B, Mangano provided no details during his interview with Newsday. He did note that the Aug.1 timing gave him the time to move forward with a Plan B if the referendum fails. But he did not disclose what Plan B would include.
Randy, the revenue sharing not going back to the taxpayer is in Nassau Countys hands, not Charles Wang. Go find another person with his assets that will give the county 11.5% of all revenue coming in. Do you realize how ridiculous the counter is?
RM: The county will receive the revenue sharing to do with it what officials there please. Over the 30 years, there will be many county administrations - and each can make its own decision on how to spend or use those revenue sharing dollars. One thing Mangano mentioned was to pay down other more expensive debt - which may end up being a priority going forward for those revenue sharing funds.
The Legislature would still have to approve any bond even if the vote is positive. Since a super-majority is needed for bonding how would this ever happen since the Democrats are against the deal due to the tax increase?
RM: If the referendum is passed by a significant majority, with a solid turnout, it may be harder for Legislators to say no. Democrat Dave Denenberg broke with his party to vote in favor of holding the referendum on Aug. 1 - although he hasn't come out with a position on the contents of the referendum itself. If a Democrat were to see a big Yes turnout in his or her district, it might affect his or her decision.
Randy, can you prove that the revenue sharing does not go towards the tax bill, or are you making up your own facts and figures because you can moderate the comments?
RM: The local law clearly indicates that the revenue sharing goes into the general fund. The county has confirmed that. County officials have clearly stated that the revenue sharing can be used for anything and will be going into the general fund. Nothing in the law guarantees that the revenue sharing would be used towards the tax bill.
All the coast over runs will be paid by the Islanders has any other publicly funded arena project had such a deal?
RM: Other arenas have been entirely privately funded - or a mix of private and public funds so yes, some include the concept that the cost of construction or overruns would be funded privately. But yes, all overruns above the $350 million (which includes demolition and bond costs, by the way) will be paid by the Islanders.
Doesn't the guaranteed revenue sharing take much of the risk out of the agreement?
RM: Certainly the guaranteed floor in the revenue sharing takes out some of the risk to the county. The remaining risk to the county is in the difference between the guaranteed floor ($14 million) and the debt sharing (roughly $26 million) per year over the 30 years.
From Dee Karl
Hi Randi. I thought the $14 million was rent? If this is a lease, how much is the actual "rent" yearly without revenue sharing? Or is the revenue sharing a "in lieu of rent" 11.5% deal?
RM: The revenue sharing is indeed the rent. It's a minimum of $14 million - with no maximum - or 11.5 percent of all revenue (except for television rights). That revenue sharing is the "rent."
Any idea why Newsday's coverage has been so blatantly negative towards the proposal? Seems to me that asking us to spend $13/year for a brand new arena or asking us to spend $16/year to maintain an empty arena is a no-brainer
RM: I'd suggest that Newsday's coverage has not been blatantly negative towards the proposal. I think our reporters and editors have done a good job trying to cover all angles. We've presented interviews with both Mangano and Wang (the latter of which was on the front page of the paper on Sunday) and plenty of coverage of Islanders' events, press conferences, etc. I think our coverage has been fair.
What is Newsday's editorial opinion on the project?
RM: I am not on the Editorial Board. I do not know.
Why are they insisting that it will provide construction jobs when there is nothing in the contract to guarantee that they hire people who live in Nassau County to do any of the construction?
RM: They say they will do everything they can to hire local labor. It will create jobs, they say... the question is whether they would all be Nassau residents. That part is not guaranteed. And the other argument is that by having more people working in Nassau County, they will spend money here, thereby helping the economy.
So what you are saying is that, if the revenue is not accounted for directly on your tax bill, it does not count? Sorry, that does not make sense to me. At the end of the year, a surplus or deficit for the county counts all revenue and expenses. Or did I miss something?
RM: Revenue counts in the county coffers and budgeting, of course. It will help balance the county's budget - or go towards whatever the county wants it to. But it may not directly offset a homeowner's taxes. The homeowner himself or herself will still be paying the $58 per year on average if the county chooses to use the revenue for other means. There's a difference between the county's budget - and a Nassau homeowner's budget.
What about refurbishing the existing one?
RM: Refurbishing the existing Coliseum was part of the Lighthouse plan. I am told the difference in cost is not actually that huge. But this plan is to build a new arena.
When the original Coliseum was conceived during the Nickerson administration and built during Ralph Caso's first term neither the Nets or Islanders were conceived as tenants. The Nets were the first tenants and the Isles an after-thought since the NHL had not yet approved expansion (along with the original Atlanta team). The Coliseum was built for like 20 million and the County was still a growing entity and its construction raised no real public concern.
RM: Thanks Bevo. That's interesting. I'll take a look.
If the plan is voted down, and the Islanders do leave in 2015, does everyone assume the Coliseum will close? What about concerts, trade shows, NCAA basketball, etc? There's 2.5 million people living on LI, a nice audience to draw from for events.
RM: The assumption is that without a primary tenant, who would use the Coliseum for 40 percent or so of its events, the Coliseum wouldn't be able to survive economically. And since, the county says, it's in bad shape, it wouldn't be able to attract as many shows, concerts, etc.
Have there been studies determining how many Nassau County residents actually attend an event (either hockey, concert, college fair if they still hold it there, etc.)? To be fair, you would have to count a season ticket holder as one attendee (and not 41 for the number of home games), as well as not count repeat concert goers and the like. It can’t be a large number of the population, can it?
RM: The county's economic consultants expect the Coliseum would get 1.3 million visitors each year in a new arena (that's more than it is now). But that does include repeat customers (i.e. season ticket holders would be counted for each game) since they were looking at how much money was coming in in terms of tickets and concessions. I do not know a non-repeat figure for the number of people who come to the Coliseum.
Sorry to interrupt as you might have already considered this: however, when the lighthouse plan was proposed (which I liked and favored) Wang was convinced that the col could not stand on its own as a good investment and housing and business space was needed to support it. What has changed that makes the col without all the bells and whistles a money maker or something that even has a chance to break even?
RM: I have asked Wang and Mangano that question as it has puzzled me a bit, too. Mangano and county officials note that private financing costs more than public financing - so Wang's overall costs would be far higher than the county's would be. And Wang points out that the county makes tax revenue as part of the revenue it will be taking in - and he wouldn't get any of that.
The attendance figures and performance on ice have been dismal for the Islanders. Why do we think they will perform any better in a new arena and generate enough cash to meet their financial obligations?
RM: Any new arena has a "novelty effect" where people come just to come to the new building - to check the place out. But after a year or two, that wears off - so some economists question whether higher attendance numbers would hold. (The county projects avg Islanders game attendance would be 14,650 - last year it was just over 11,000)...
But the county and the Islanders say that team performance and concert-wise, the appeal of a new building, would bring more people in. They also say they can get more and better concert acts and shows who don't right now want to come to an old arena.
Why have voters not received the traditional cards telling them where to cast their ballots? And why has Newsday not done additional stories beyond the one by Celeste Hadrick which discovered "Vote Yes" posters and computers in an obscure room in a county building? How do we know that taxpayer funds are not being used to promote a "yes" vote?
RM: So far, it appears the Vote Yes 2011 campaign is being funded by the New York Islanders. Those with a change in polling place will, apparently receive a card in the mail this week. If you don't have a change in polling place, you just go to the one you usually use. But do let me know if you get a card indicating a change - I'm curious.
From Tim Rogers
Is there a projection as to when the new baseball team would be in operation? The Ducks are a great destination for my family and we would love to have a closer option.
RM: No - the deal between the Ducks owner and the county has not been finalized, so we do not know that timetable or the revenue details.
Hi Randy. As a concerned hockey fan, I don't want to see the Isles leave Nassau. Should this vote fail, what are the chances of having Wang place an arena in Suffolk?
RM: A Suffolk legislator welcomed him to come in for a chat last night... Wang and Suffolk County Exec Steve Levy have talked - but we know nothing more than that about how serious those conversations have been. Wang says that right now, that's "speculative" and he's hoping this deal goes through.
I thorugh I saw in newsday that the overruns are only covered up to 375 million, there is renegotiation if it exceeds that amount.
RM: That's absolutely correct, Andy. If the costs come in above $375 million, Wang would have to decide that he would pay them - whatever they may be- or he has the right to back out of the deal. There wouldn't be a renegotiation of the lease - but Wang might choose to have the project rebid, or redrawn by architects to be made cheaper - or he might just agree to pay even if it comes in higher.
Any talk of scaled-down Mixed Use, parking garages and infrastructure improvements on the other 77 acres?
RM: Not right now. The county says any other development at the site will have to wait til the new arena is built- and then it would be sent out for a Request for Proposals. But any deal would have to include a way of providing the Coliseum with 6,500 parking spaces. And in a garage, they cost $25,000 a pop.
Randi, the Camoin report stated that the Islanders and the Coliseum events generate economic activity (primary and secondary) to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars (around $240 mill) per year, plus tax revenues to Nassau. What I don't get is if the Islanders leave and the Coliseum is not rebuilt, where will that huge shortfall be made up from? It seems to me that so much of that activity will just dry up or move to Suffolk or NYC. Opponents never seem to address this huge hit on the local economy.
RM: Some economists note that some of that economic activity will remain in Nassau County. People can go to dinner and a movie instead of a family show one night or spend their dollars in Nassau County on other activities. But certainly some - if not most - of those dollars would disappear if the Coliseum shutters.
Glad you asked them what changed, but were you able to independently verify that their answer about financing costs were true and could explain the difference? Isn't that part of the role of the free press?
RM: We're working on further pieces on the bonding side of things... But it is indeed true that generally speaking, private financing is more costly than public financing.
The $58 number thrown around is for the average Nassau County homeowners. What will business and utility property owners pay? Will LIPA have to raise their rates to pay their new "Coliseum property tax" or will Waldbaum's have to raise their prices for the same reason? The business property tax increase has never been discussed---why?
RM: We are actually working on those numbers as we speak. Yes, businesses and utilities will pay far more than the average household figure - some will pay tens of thousands - or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. LIPA would have to get approval to raise rates - although the county notes that a loss of business if the Coliseum shutters would affect LIPA too.
From bill wiegelman
I personally dont think the vote is going to matter..between the Democrats and NIFA I dont see this happening..I certainly hope it does but I'm just not sure it will..your thoughts?
RM: There is a long way to go even if the vote passes. NIFA has already raised concerns - and yes, the deal would need two Democrats to get its supermajority approval. So, a Yes vote is only one step - and there are many more to go. (Even beyond those approvals, there are lots of steps before the shovel is in the ground, too.)
Can the county sell the naming rights to the Coliseum to a private company to bring in more money?
RM: Naming rights is part of the deal yes. Naming rights could be sold, and 11.5 percent of that revenue would go the county. Wednesday July 27, 2011 1:13 1:13
Why isn't the basis of the deal that the County is guaranteed the debt service and the Isles get the rest with maybe a 5 percent kicker for the county over a certain amount. That way the County is made whole for their full faith and credit with the possibility of a profit as well. The fact that they didn't take the debt service off the top is troubling to me.
RM: Both Wang and Mangano have basically said that this is part of the negotiation. They negotiated all of the numbers - the percentage of revenue share, the floor etc. - and this is what they came to. I don't think Wang was going to agree to a deal that had a $26 million floor per year.
Are you or someone else from Newsday going to question Jay Jacobs about his fiasco of an interview with Mike Francesa yesterday? Proposing PSL (personal seat licenses) was about as dumb of a proposal as I have heard. They barely work for NFL teams and do not work for any other sport. Certainly they are not appropriate for hockey.
RM: I haven't talked to Jacobs about the PSL comment. It hasn't been raised by others - so I'm not sure if it amounts to an actual proposal by anyone at this point. But we'll continue to look into all aspects of it.
Are you at Newsday also looking at the effect this new tax would have on the State's new 2% tax cap.
RM: Yes we're looking into it.
Thanks much regarding the bonding and financing issues, but as the devil is in the details, I can't see how these guys expect me to vote yes without answers to explain the 'flip-flop' on the program of sustaining a col with housing and business to one marked on public finance alone. It just doesn't seem reasonable that the rate difference over 30 years will have required that much housing and business development--somewhere there is misdirection, and who really has time to figure it out? Thanks again, a good chat
RM: The basic answer from Wang and Mangano has been Lighthouse is the past - and it failed - and this is now the proposal on the table, so you should look at it not in comparison to Lighthouse, because that is no longer an option.
Thanks--one last question: politicians seem to suggest that building a parking garage on the property will cost some crazy amount like over $100 million. I think one estimate I've seen quoted $160 mill. This seems ludicrous--how exactly are they arriving at this estimate, which may be 8 to 9 times the actual cost for a large, multi-tiered facility? And why is such a commonly-constructed, easily-built structure even controversial at all?
RM: The estimates are correct. Per parking space, a garage costs $25,000. For a 6,500 space structure - that's $160 million. Apparently, the steel and concrete isn't cheap. And because it's not really a profit making venture, a developer needs everything else (the retail, the housing, etc.) to make up for the cost of the garage.
Randi I have another question. Despite all the promotion of voting Yes for the arena, why are Wang or Mangano not releasing renderings of the proposed arena. Its just a thought I had and I think it would be fair to the voters to at least see what their voting for instead of ending up with an arena that does not look appealing to the fans. What do you think?
RM: As far as I know there are not really any renderings. They didn't want to pay an architect before they got a yes vote. But they have said they hope to base the new arena on the Prudential Center in Newark. The lease itself says so. So, I'd use that as your guide.
Is this proposal the last shot for the Isles to remain in Nassau?
RM: That's what Charles Wang says. He says he is out of time to consider other options. Some, like Jay Jacobs, have said they don't buy into that statement. But if you believe Wang, there is no Plan B.
Moderator: We're going to wrap this up soon. Three more questions. Wednesday July 27, 2011 1:21 1:21
Why are long island politicians always looking to stunt growth?
RM: Well, I don't think a blanket statement like that can or should be made. But certainly some have expressed concern for maintaining the suburban nature of the Island - and some have expressed concern regarding the costs of the development... and some on LI just seem to say No more often than Yes. But I do think there are some politicians on LI who are pro-growth, and pro-development - as long as its done with care, etc.
Would the NHL need to appove an Islander relocation?
RM: Yes, the NHL would have to approve an Islanders relocation. NHL head Gary Bettman has said he doesn't expect the Islanders to stay in the current Coliseum once their lease expires in 2015.
Is the draft contract between Arenaco (Wang) and Nassau County available on-line anywhere for review?
RM: Yes, Newsday has a link to it on our web site - and there are also links available from the Nassau County and Islanders' web sites as well!
RM: Thanks so much for all of your questions today!! Feel free to contact me with others - and do vote on Monday.
Moderator: Thanks Randi. You can follow her on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/randimarshall. And thank you for participating in our live chat today. Please go to newsday.com for more coverage and our Facebook page for discussion.