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Campaign over Islander arena to take fuller shape

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang and Nassau

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang and Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano after bill to allow residents to vote on the future of the Nassau Coliseum area was approved. (May 31, 2011) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

With a bond referendum to rebuild the Nassau Coliseum slated for Aug. 1, proponents were still preparing behind the scenes last week for a coordinated “vote yes” drive, sources said.

Section 14-102 of state election law requires financial disclosures for ballot-proposal campaigns, lawyers say. As of Friday, no committee for this purpose appeared to have filed with the state Board of Elections.

Insiders expect allies of County Executive Edward Mangano and Islanders owner Charles Wang to take part soon in an ad-hoc organization to push the $400-million borrowing proposal. Meanwhile, Jim Castellane, president of Nassau/Suffolk Building Trades Council, said unions will put “boots on the ground.” Mario Saccente, executive vice president of the Long Island chapter of the state Restaurant Association, is among the business figures who back the bonding.

Facebook offers one forum so far. A page on the social-networking site declares: “On August 1, vote YES for a new home for the New York Islanders.” Islanders fans from elsewhere are urged to persuade county voters to approve it..

Click here to see pro-arena Facebookers.

Click here to check out what opponents of the borrowing are posting.

Skeptics wonder if a deal with Wang, to be detailed, could really profit the county — let alone whether the county’s state fiscal monitoring board will go along.
Residents disposed to vote “no” are seeking their own ways to send out word. Among them, Ethell Smith of Freeport said she doesn’t mind a Coliseum renovation but can’t afford any added tax burden and “I don’t want it to be an arena for the Islanders and I don’t want a minor league baseball team.”

Richard Johnson of East Atlantic Beach said he’s been arguing with Team Mangano via Facebook. He objects to Mangano deriding November as the “silly season” for voting, and to the idea Wang would pay the election costs of $1.6 million to $2.2 million — if the plan is approved.

Photo:  New York Islanders owner Charles Wang and Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano after bill to allow residents to vote on the future of the Nassau Coliseum area was approved. (May 31, 2011)

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