Seeking to maintain Nassau Coliseum's connection to Islanders' history, the Madison Square Garden Co. has added an Islander-themed sports bar to its proposal to redevelop the arena, said a source familiar with the bidding process.
The bar, called "The Sports Zone," would contain Islanders memorabilia, with well-known former Islanders donating items, said the source.
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Madison Square Garden is competing with Bruce Ratner, who built the Barclays Center in Brooklyn; Syosset developer Edward Blumenfeld; and Bayville-based New York Sports LLC for the rights to redevelop the Coliseum site.
Ratner's plan includes playing six Islanders games at the arena, which would have seating for 13,000. There is a question whether the NHL would allow the Isles to play regular-season games in a building that would hold only 13,000. Ratner is pitching a $229 million proposal that includes a 2,000-seat club and concert venue.
Blumenfeld would tear down the Coliseum in his $180 million proposal and build a 9,000-12,000 seat arena and a 100,000-square-foot convention center. New York Sports has a $60 million to $90 million plan that would refurbish the interior of the existing arena with 8,000 to 10,000 seats.
MSG is committing $250 million for its bid, which would renovate the Coliseum and create a 14,500-seat arena, plus 150,000-square foot entertainment center called Long Island Live!
The Islanders will move to the Barclays Center when the team's lease expires after the 2014-15 season, but owner Charles Wang has said he is open to leaving sooner.
Former Islanders said they like the idea of retaining a piece of the team's history.
"[The Sports Zone] will help keep things alive on Long Island," said Glenn "Chico" Resch, the former Islanders goaltender who would donate his mask from his early days with the team. Resch works for MSG Network as the Devils analyst. "It's the best-case scenario for everyone out there."
Among the other Islanders who have agreed to donate items are Ed Westfall (a stick from his first season on the Island), Butch Goring (jersey from one of the Stanley Cup years), Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, Pat LaFontaine (1983-84 rookie jersey), Bryan Berard (1996-97 rookie jersey) and Glenn Healy, players who span the dynasty era of the 1980s up to the improbable run to the 1993 conference final.
"I think it's important to keep that Islanders presence," said Trottier, who had a Hall of Fame career with the Islanders and also had a 54-game coaching stint with the Rangers in 2002-03.
"There will always be that Rangers-Islanders rivalry," Trottier said.
Healy, who won a Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994 and now works as a broadcaster for Canadian Broadcasting Corp., would donate the pads and mask he wore during the Isles upset run in 1993. "They're going to make sure the great days of the Coliseum are not forgotten," he said.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is expected to select a bidder to redevelop the 16,000-seat Uniondale arena before July 15. The plan also must be approved by the county legislature.
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