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Committee OKs indoor sports at Mitchel Park

An aerial view of the Nassau Coliseum/Mitchel Field

An aerial view of the Nassau Coliseum/Mitchel Field Complex in Uniondale. In the foreground is Hofstra University and Hempstead Turnpike. (May 11, 2011) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

Nassau lawmakers Monday night approved a 30-year license for a Garden City-based investment group to finance, build and operate an indoor sports facility at Mitchel Park in Mitchel Field.

The deal, approved 4-3 along party lines by the Republican-controlled rules committee, calls for Nassau Sports & Events Llc, headed by Garden City businessman Mickey Blum, to spend at least $11.5 million to construct and operate a facility that will include turf playing fields, basketball and volleyball courts, rock-climbing walls and a fitness studio. It also will have meeting and conference rooms and a cafe, records show.

The firm will pay a $250,000 annual fee once the facility is completed -- or within 18 months after the license is granted -- with the amount increasing three percent a year, officials said. In addition, the operator will pay a percentage of gross receipts into a fund to be used for maintenance and repair, officials said.

The 30-year term can be extended 10 additional years.

The license is subject to the approval of the United States Department of Interior. The U.S. government turned over the former air base property in Uniondale to Nassau in 1968 with restrictions that its use be limited to public recreation.

The license only needs approval by the rules committee. Most other Mitchel Field projects have leases, which require full legislative approval.

"I don't think we're getting an opportunity to get answers to our questions," said Legis. Judi Bosworth (D-Great Neck). "This is an important project. I believe all legislators should be looking at this."

Nassau Sports is required to provide a "public recreational use plan" for sports and recreatoinal activites, open to all county residents. That plan is subject to approval of the parks commissioner.

County officials say the facility is expected to create 50 full-time jobs and host trade shows, conventions, exhibitions and parties.

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said Democrats "think the idea, the concept has merit," but still had some questions they would like to see addressed. He declined to elaborate, saying their concerns stemmed from questions raised during an executive session Monday night.

With Laura Figueroa

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