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Ratner bid pitches 'iconic design' for Nassau Coliseum

Forest City Ratner Companies chairman and CEO Bruce

Forest City Ratner Companies chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner looks on during the Barclays Center ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Sept. 21, 2012) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Developer Bruce Ratner, who built the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, confirmed Wednesday that he has submitted a bid to redevelop the Nassau Coliseum with an "iconic design" that would "create a Nassau like never before."

Speaking at a sports facilities conference in Brooklyn, Ratner said he had assembled an "unprecedented" team to bid on Nassau County's request for proposals to operate and redevelop the 40-year-old Uniondale arena.

In a statement, Ratner spokesman Barry Baum said the bid would "deliver a re-imagined arena that will make Nassau and all of Long Island proud. Our plan includes an iconic design, development expertise, outstanding programming and first-class hospitality, all of which will create a Nassau like never before."

Ratner, executive chairman of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, declined to discuss his proposal's specifics, citing the ongoing review. But he said Nassau was a "great place for concerts, music and sports . . . -- and the community deserves to have a very nice place."

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano issued the RFP last month after consulting with Ratner, who lured the Islanders to play in Brooklyn in 2015.

Nassau wants to downsize the current 16,000-seat arena to between 8,000 and 12,000 seats to attract family shows, concerts and minor league sports.

The county would get a percentage of the gross revenue from arena events to pay down its $1.2 billion debt from property tax settlements.

Nassau received four bids to redevelop the Coliseum.

The bidders also include Syosset developer Ed Blumenfeld and the Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the Knicks and Rangers, and venues including Madison Square Garden. The Dolan family holds controlling interest in MSG, and owns Cablevision, Newsday's parent company.

County officials have not identified a fourth bidder. Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said the county will choose a winner within 90 days of responses to the RFP. "While the county cannot comment during the RFP process, I am optimistic that one of the proposals submitted will reinvent the Coliseum so that it serves as a true sports-entertainment destination for all of Long Island," Mangano said.

Ratner said Islanders owner Charles Wang had done a "heroic thing" by moving the team to Brooklyn and rejecting lucrative offers outside the region. He said hockey games at Barclays would hold a maximum of 14,500 fans although premium seats could be added.

In response to a question, Ratner said there is no discussion "at this point" about a deal with Nassau that would allow the Islanders to depart before 2015, when their Coliseum lease expires.

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