Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon
Long IslandNassau

Mangano seeks private Coliseum developers

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano announces the county

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano announces the county is seeking solicitation of proposals for the Nassau Coliseum site. (Aug. 2, 2011) Credit: Howard Schnapp

County Executive Edward Mangano pressed the reset button Tuesday on the 77-acre Nassau Coliseum site, urging private developers to pitch redevelopment plans in an effort to keep the Islanders from departing when the team's lease expires in 2015.

As some potential suitors expressed interest in luring the National Hockey League franchise, Mangano sought to reframe the issue a day after county voters defeated a referendum that would have permitted borrowing of up to $400 million to build a new arena and a minor league ballpark.

Nassau will consider leasing or selling the land. Mangano called for preliminary proposals to be submitted by Aug. 12. The plans must address job creation, revenue and quality of life, he said.

"This is a call to action," Mangano said. "If you have proposals, bring them forward. The county will be moving forward."

His remarks came as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman expressed hope that the Islanders can remain on Long Island.

"We will continue to work closely with the Islanders to explore whatever options still may be available in light of what obviously is not a positive development," Bettman said in a statement. "Our goal is for the team to remain on Long Island and we still hope that objective can be realized."

Islanders owner Charles Wang, who said Monday night he was "heartbroken" by the defeat of the referendum, has said that if a new Coliseum isn't built, he would move the team after its lease expires.

Wang did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

"The will of the residents is clearly not to build a new Coliseum with taxpayer money, so I encourage County Executive Mangano to pursue other options," said the county Legislature's Presiding Officer, Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa).

Legis. Wayne Wink (D-Roslyn), a critic of the defeated referendum, said: "The first step [now] should be to formulate a vision for the area, fostering a sense of common purpose as well as economic development."

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said he has talked with Wang about the team moving to the new Barclays Center, where the Nets will play beginning in 2012. "It will be a little smaller than the other spaces across the country, but still large enough to generate the type of income that a team needs," Markowitz said in an interview.

The Barclays Center could accommodate an NHL-sized rink, but it would hold "a few thousand" fewer seats for hockey games than basketball, said Brett Yormak, the arena's chief executive. The Brooklyn arena will seat 18,000 for basketball when it opens. The Nassau Coliseum seats 16,297 for hockey.

A spokesman said Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov "has no interest in pursuing the purchase of a sports team at this time."

Dan Aug, a spokesman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, noted Levy's desire to keep the Islanders on Long Island. "We've negotiated with them in the past and we will continue our constructive dialogue going forward," Aug said.

Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon previously suggested that the Islanders could build an arena on the Citi Field parking lot, though the Mets declined to comment Tuesday.

Mets' ownership is under financial pressure because of a clawback lawsuit filed by the trustee for victims of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. The lawsuit seeks as much as $1 billion and alleges that team owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz drew profits from their investments with Madoff. Wilpon and Katz have denied any wrongdoing. They are negotiating sale of a minority partnership in the Mets to hedge fund manager David Einhorn.

At his news conference in Mineola, Mangano said that after he has examined developers' preliminary ideas, the county will issue an official request for proposals for the Coliseum site in Uniondale.

Three private developers so far have expressed interest, including members of the Association for a Better Long Island, a real estate group that opposed the referendum, said Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin. An ABLI spokesman confirmed that some members are interested but declined to provide further details.

Syosset developer and ABLI president Ed Blumenfeld, who had bid on the property during a 2005 RFP, said private development on the site will "take some creativity, some imagination, some private equity and some funding, but I think it's very doable."

Garden City developer Vincent Polimeni raised the possibility that private developers could build an arena and rent it to Wang.

With Katie Strang

and Barbara Barker

Nassau top stories