The Nassau County Planning Commission held a public hearing to discuss transferring the Nassau Coliseum lease to Las Vegas Sands. NewsdayTV's Shari Einhorn reports. Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp

A newly proposed lease agreement between Nassau County and Las Vegas Sands for control of the Coliseum came before the county's Planning Commission Thursday in a public hearing that drew 50 speakers. 

Labor leaders from the construction and trades sector asked the 10-member commission to approve the lease so 400 workers can keep their jobs at the arena, which still hosts events. The proposed lease is part of Sands' application for one of three highly competitive state gambling licenses available for the downstate region. 

Ryan Stanton, executive director of the Long Island Federation of Labor, said "working people are collateral damage" because jobs at the arena are at risk without an operator. 

"We are here today to ask you as commissioners to deliver on a lease so that the 400 full-time employees of the Coliseum can continue to provide food for their families," Stanton said. 

WHAT TO KNOW

  • A new lease agreement between Nassau County and Las Vegas Sands for control of the Nassau Coliseum site came before the county Planning Commission Thursday in a public hearing that drew 50 speakers. 
  • Hofstra University and Garden City residents asked the commission to reject the lease even if it does not grant the right to build a casino. 
  • Ryan Stanton, executive director of the Long Island Federation of Labor, backed the lease proposal, saying "working people are collateral damage" because jobs at the Coliseum are at risk without an operator.

"It's an economic engine that working people can count on," he added.

Hofstra University and Garden City residents asked the commission to reject the lease — even if Thursday's lease proposal explicitly does not grant the right to build a casino — and consider the eventual impact of a large-scale casino on the grounds. 

Garden City Mayor Mary Carter Flanagan said the village board has unanimously passed three resolutions opposing the casino, and in representing the 22,000 residents there they are still "unequivocally" against the project. 

"This isn't an innocent lease agreement to keep things going over there. We all know what it is," Flanagan said. She and others questioned why the county could not find a less controversial operator of the Coliseum.

Sands, which is based in Nevada, has proposed a $6 billion casino resort on the 72-acre, county-owned property in Uniondale that would include live table games, a day spa, wellness center, concert venue, restaurants and retail. 

Sands' second attempt for the Coliseum lease comes months after a state Supreme Court judge annulled the lease the commission approved in April 2023, siding with plaintiff Hofstra.

The court voided the commission's votes and those of the 19-member Nassau County Legislature.

The county is appealing the lower court's decision that voided the 2023 lease and is restarting the approval process, per the judge's order with a new lease. 

The county granted Sands temporary occupancy permits to use the Coliseum at the end of 2023, when the previous lease was annulled. 

The new lease considered Thursday differs from the 99-year deal the commission approved last year. This time, Sands is seeking the commission's approval of a 42-year lease to operate the Coliseum, including booking events and maintaining the property, without the right to develop on the site.

"This is a very limited lease, however, it only provides for the operation of the Coliseum including maintenance, repair and replacement, and to host events on the site," Josh Meyer, an attorney from West Group Law representing the county, told the commission Thursday. 

Monica Kiely, of Garden City, who opposes the Sands development, told the commission she believed entering into a 42-year lease would prevent other potential projects from being built on the property. 

"This is all part of the Sands' quest for a gambling license — a casino license — and the construction of the second largest casino in our country to be placed between two colleges. And we can't lose sight of that," Kiely said. 

The Planning Commission will accept written public comment until June 28 at 5 p.m. and is expected to put the lease to a vote on July 18. 

To build on the site, Sands and the county would need to submit a separate agreement to the commission.

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