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Nassau takes steps to lure minor league baseball team

Nassau County hopes to break ground by the spring of 2012 at the latest on a new minor league stadium, with construction funding guaranteed by the county but payments to be made by the team, county officials said Monday.

County Executive Edward Mangano said he was in talks with the Atlantic League, a private entity with seven teams, including the Long Island Ducks in Central Islip. He said he hoped a Nassau team would be a new one that would play its first game here.

"It is our intention to launch a public-private partnership and have a team in the Mitchel Field area. It would create jobs and low-cost entertainment. It's very real and we're going to be launching an effort to build the minor league stadium in the 2011-2012 time frame," he said in an interview.

He said he hopes to issue a formal request by January to have private firms submit bids on the design of a new stadium.

Mangano commented on the plan after the stadium bonding popped up during Nassau County Legislature committee meetings that were considering the county's $166 million capital budget for next year. That budget was passed through committees with little comment and was scheduled for a public hearing by the full legislature on Dec. 6.

Democratic Legis. David Denenberg of Merrick, the lead negotiator for the Democratic minority, said none of his Democratic colleagues had been briefed on the stadium plan. Republicans hold an 11-8 edge in the legislature but need Democratic support to get the 13 votes needed to approve bonding.

"I'd like to hear more about it before I decide," Denenberg said after the meeting. "It might be great, but it's news to me and I want to know that we have a commitment to get a team here, and that the proposal will work, before I will commit taxpayer financing."

Frank Boulton, chief executive and principal owner of the Long Island Ducks, said he believed the proposal might come to fruition.

"It's been percolating for years, and now it seems to have some support from the county executive and his staff, and we're excited," Boulton said. "It would be great to have a new team that would compete in the Atlantic League and it would be a great rivalry."

In other action Monday, the Rules Committee voted to exempt fire districts and veterans organizations from paying a new fee for using the county's sewer system.

Libraries, school districts and many other entities, but not churches and hospitals, will still be subject to the fee for the first time next year.

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