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Four groups pitch plan for Nassau Coliseum redevelopment

The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale. (March

The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale. (March 13, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Four developers submitted proposals Thursday to transform the 40-year-old Nassau Coliseum into an arena capable of attracting top concert acts and sporting events while generating millions of dollars in new revenue for Nassau County.

The bidders were: Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner, the Madison Square Garden Company, Syosset developer Edward Blumenfeld and Bayville-based New York Sports LLC. The Dolan family holds controlling interest in MSG, and owns Cablevision, Newsday's parent company.

The developers unveiled their plans at a meeting of the Nassau Business Advisory Council. The panel is comprised of 17 local business leaders who will advise County Executive Edward Mangano in selecting a developer.

Mangano, who issued a request for proposals to redevelop the arena in Uniondale earlier this year and who attended the session, is expected to make a decision by July 15. The county legislature would have to approve the contract with the winning bidder.

The RFP comes after past Coliseum projects failed to come to fruition. They included the $3.8-billion Lighthouse Project proposed by New York Islanders owner Charles Wang, and a 2011 referendum to borrow $400 million to build an arena, which residents voted down.

In October, Wang announced that the team would leave the Coliseum at the end of its lease in 2015 to play at Barclays in Brooklyn.

Mangano asked Ratner to conduct an analysis of the long-term uses of the Coliseum. Ratner recommended a smaller arena capable of hosting family shows, minor league sports and concerts.

The proposals made public Thursday include entertainment venues, convention center space, restaurants, sports bars, retail, bowling and an outdoor amphitheater.

Each of the bidders said they would finance the work without using public funds, with costs ranging from $60 million to $250 million.

Developers would have to give the county a percentage of the gross revenue from arena events. Nassau officials asked the firms not to publicly discuss those figures but a source with knowledge of Blumenfeld's offer said he has promised Nassau 20 percent of his net revenue.

The proposals in the order they were presented are:


Ratner, executive chairman of the development company Forest City Ratner, proposed a $229 million project to transform the Coliseum site into a sports-and-entertainment complex.

He proposed a 13,000-seat arena that could be downsized to 4,000 seats for smaller family shows. Alongside the arena he would build a 2,000-seat club and concert venue modeled after Live Nation's Fillmore theater complexes; a 2,500-seat outdoor amphitheater, as many as six restaurants, a movie theater and 50,000 square feet of retail space.

The complex could be as meaningful to Nassau as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, he said.

"We must reinvent and reimagine brand Nassau," said Brett Yormark, chief executive of the Barclays Center.

Ratner would work with Wang, who also owns the Long Island Marriott adjacent to the Coliseum, to transform the exhibition hall below the arena into a convention center. A monument to Long Island veterans also would be constructed on the southeastern section of the property.

The project calls for 309 events per year at the Coliseum, including six Islanders regular-season games, one Brooklyn Nets preseason game and 83 outdoor events. A minor league American Hockey League team would relocate to the arena although Ratner declined to identify the team.

"We want a place for everybody," Ratner said.

Jay-Z joined Ratner for the presentation but didn't speak. The hip-hop superstar's Roc Nation entertainment company is associated with the project and will help attract acts, Ratner said.

The project would generate $10.9 billion in economic activity over 30 years and create 1,331 construction jobs and more than 2,500 full-time, part-time and seasonal positions, said Ratner spokeswoman Ashley Cotton.

The plan includes roughly 5,000 parking spots, compared to the current 6,800, and keeps 10 acres of development open for Donald Monti, who was selected by Mangano as the project's master developer.


Shereck's Bayville-based New York Sports Llc would spend $60 million to $90 million to refurbish the Coliseum's interior. The exterior would remain the same, and no other development was proposed.

Shereck would downsize the arena to 8,000-10,000 seats and reduce parking to 3,600 spots, from the current 6,800. His group would bring in a minor league hockey team and is in talks with the Manhattan-based National Lacrosse League to get a team to play at the arena.

"This process has piqued the interest of our investors," said Jim Johnson, a former sales manager for the New York Islanders who is working with Shereck on the project.

The project would employ 1,500 construction workers and create up to 150 full-time and 500 part-time jobs.

Johnson said the project would generate between $10 million and $20 million annually in tax revenue for the county.

Company officials drew on their local roots in making their pitch. Shereck is the former operator of the Long Beach Ice Arena.

"We're all Long Islanders," Johnson said. "Bernie's our biggest celebrity. We look at our community and we look at resources that are untapped."

Commenting on the star power of Ratner's presentation, Johnson said: "We're clearly the underdogs. Someone said the '27 Yankees just presented and we're the Hicksville Little League."



Blumenfeld would spend $180 million to tear down the Coliseum and build a new 9,000-12,000 seat arena.

Partnering with SMG, the current operator of the Coliseum, Blumenfeld also would build a 100,000-square-foot convention center at the site of the existing exhibition center below the arena. The project also calls for retail, restaurants, office space and apartments.

"We have a vision for Long Island that Long Island should not be a secondary place but a primary place and this should be a primary venue," he said.

The plan calls for 150-175 events annually at the Coliseum, featuring an AHL minor league hockey team. Robert Cavalieri, SMG senior vice president of business development, said the group would purchase an AHL team if it can't get one to relocate to Uniondale.

"This will be an economic driver for the county," Cavalieri said.

Cavalieri said the group also would recruit Big 10 college basketball and hockey teams to play at the arena, including the Ohio State University, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State.

The plan, which would generate $10 million to $20 million in annual sales tax revenue for the county, calls for 3,000 surface parking spots and a 2,500- to 3,000-space parking deck, said Raffaela Petrasek, a development associate with Blumenfeld Development Group.



MSG would spend $250 million for a renovated 14,500-seat arena. A mixed-use entertainment complex, similar to the "Power Plant Live!" development in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, would be constructed adjacent to the Coliseum and operate year-round.

Company officials said an arena of fewer than 14,500 seats could not attract top-flight concert acts. A flexible seating design would allow different sections of the arena to be cordoned off to reduce capacity to 1,700 seats.

Hank Ratner, MSG's president and CEO, said the company's plan was "realistic" and would transform the region. "We believe we can bring a heroic ending to this story as well as usher in a historic new beginning of sports and entertainment on Long Island," Ratner said.

MSG said at least one of its sports franchises -- the WNBA's New York Liberty; the Connecticut Whale, the Rangers' minor league affiliate; or the Erie Bayhawks, the Knicks' D-League team -- would play at the Coliseum.

The Knicks and Rangers would hold open practices at the Coliseum and players would make guest appearances at the complex. The arena also could host college basketball, professional tennis, wrestling, figure skating and track and field.

The proposal calls for the replacement of all arena seats and suites, modernizing the concourse and bathrooms, creating a lower-level VIP section, and renovating the exterior. Parking would be reduced to about 5,000 spots.

MSG and the Baltimore-based Cordish Companies would build "Long Island Live!" a 150,000- square-foot entertainment complex, on the site of the exhibition hall. It would feature restaurants, sports bars, bowling and billiards. An "MSG Zone" would have additional bars and restaurants with Garden memorabilia and a studio for live telecasts.

Company officials said the arena would host up to 180 events annually. There also would be 150 free events, concerts and festivals as part of Long Island Live!

The complex, officials said, would generate $11 billion in economic activity over 30 years and more than $300 million in sales and entertainment tax. According to the company's presentation the project would create 1,200 construction jobs and 2,500 full-time, part-time and seasonal positions.

With Laura Figueroa and Randi F. Marshall

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