A Bayville developer who hopes to build a $120 million hockey arena in Medford pitched the plan Wednesday night as an economic boon for the community.
Bernard Shereck, speaking to the Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association in the hamlet’s firehouse, said the project would create 2,000 construction jobs and 125 permanent jobs, increase property values and provide tax benefits to schools.
He said he hoped to buy a 32-acre parcel on South Service Road of the Long Island Expressway, about a mile east of Route 112. The land is owned by Suffolk County Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.
Shereck outlined plans to bring a minor league hockey team to the facility, as well as lacrosse games, concerts and shows.
“If the property were available to us, I feel it would be a real boon to the community,” said Shereck, 81, chief executive of Arena Management of New York. “There’s just so many possibilities, so many opportunities. All it really needs is a site.”
Suffolk OTB plans to sell the property to Brooklyn-based Plaza Auto Mall, which would store up to 5,000 cars there.
Shereck asked Medford residents to lobby Brookhaven Town officials to reject a zoning change required for the auto business.
“It’s really up to the community to tell the council what to do,” he said.
Many Medford residents have expressed opposition to the auto mall, saying the community does not need another auto dealership.
Residents asked Shereck about issues such as sewers, parking and traffic. Some asked how he planned to finance the arena.
Shereck said potential investors “have come and gone,” adding, “I really have to have land to do this.”
He told the crowd he intends to reach out to corporations that have experience operating stadiums and arenas and ask them to invest in the project. He indicated that he does not currently have any major financial backers for the project.
Civic association president Brett Houdek said he supported the arena as “a better vision” for the property than the auto mall. “We don’t want a junk car lot as the visible sign from the expressway,” he said.
Some of the 65 people at the meeting expressed skepticism. Jack Roseberry, 55, of Medford, said Shereck faced an uphill battle.
“I understand what they’re doing and they’re going to have a long, hard road,” said Roseberry, an architect. “I think he has a shot, but a lot of questions have to be answered.”