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Nassau leaders react to Forest City Ratner pick for Coliseum

Artist's rendering of developer Bruce Ratner's plans for

Artist's rendering of developer Bruce Ratner's plans for the Nassau Coliseum site. (May 2, 2013) Credit: Handout

Nassau lawmakers and business leaders said Thursday's selection of Forest City Ratner Cos. to redevelop the Nassau Coliseum marked a pivotal moment in the long-standing effort to revitalize the aging arena and its surrounding 77 acres.

"Ultimately, all of Long Island wins because we're finally on the verge of getting a big project done on Long Island at a place and facility that has been in limbo for the past 10 years," said Kevin Law, president and chief executive of the Long Island Association, a regional planning group.

Law, a member of the business advisory panel that helped Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano narrow his choices from a pool of four bidders to two, said the $229 million proposal submitted by Forest City Ratner affiliate Nassau Events Center LLC, and the competing $250 million plan submitted by the Madison Square Garden Co. were "neck and neck."

With the winning bid still requiring approval from the county legislature and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority -- the county's financial review board -- Mangano urged all parties to get behind the project.

"This plan gives us a clear path to success and I hope everyone will get on board," Mangano said at a Mineola news conference.

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said legislative Democrats "look forward to working with all parties so that the space can be redeveloped to become the lifeline that it once was for our county."

Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) said she was "delighted" that the selection process "resulted in a revenue-generating Coliseum at no taxpayer expense."

In a statement, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said, "The entire Town Board wants to work with the county and the developer to bring an exciting new project to our township."

"The renderings that I have seen are impressive, conveying an iconic image," Murray said.

Stuart Rabinowitz, president of Hofstra University, which neighbors the Coliseum, said he hoped "this selection will begin the process of building a sports entertainment center" that would attract jobs and the development of mixed-use buildings in the area.

Donald Monti, president and chief executive of Renaissance Downtowns, which was selected by Mangano to serve as master developer of the 77 acres surrounding the East Garden City arena, initially endorsed the MSG proposal, but said Thursday he looked "forward to working with the county and the NEC organization."

Monti said: "We all witnessed a true heavyweight bout between two very accomplished organizations played out in the free market."

The Dolan family owns a controlling interest in MSG and Cablevision, which owns Newsday.

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