A Bayville entrepreneur wants to bring minor league hockey to Medford, where he plans to build a 7,500-seat arena on the site of a former movie theater.
But first he has to wrest the 32-acre property from a Brooklyn-based auto dealer that plans to buy it from Suffolk OTB.
In an interview with Newsday, Bernard Shereck, chief executive of Arena Management of New York, said he is proposing a $120 million, 300,000-square-foot arena on the Long Island Expressway South Service Road, about a mile east of Route 112. He plans to outline the plan on Wednesday night at a meeting of the Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association.
Shereck said he hopes to land a team from the minor league East Coast Hockey League, which has ties to the National Hockey League and minor league American Hockey League.
Besides pro hockey, the arena could host concerts, lacrosse, college hockey and entertainment such as Cirque du Soleil, Shereck said. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to veterans groups and other charities, he said.
He said a minor league hockey club — modeled on the success of the Long Island Ducks minor league baseball team — would provide a cheaper, family-oriented alternative to New York Islanders and Rangers games.
“For $50 or $60, we had a great time,” he said, recalling the time he took his grandchildren to a Ducks game in Central Islip. “When the Islanders come back to Nassau Coliseum [next season], people are going to be spending $30 or $40 just for parking.”
Shereck, 81, a Montreal native who played junior hockey in Canada, has been trying for years to bring minor league hockey to Long Island.
He launched a failed bid in 2013 to redevelop Nassau Coliseum and bring in a minor league hockey team and other indoor sports. Shereck had operated the Long Beach Ice Arena for the city of Long Beach for two years until 2009, when the city evicted him for allegedly failing to pay $175,000 in rent.
Shereck faces several hurdles in his pursuit of the Medford property, which has been vacant since the Brookhaven multiplex closed there about 15 years ago.
The land is owned by Suffolk County Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., which plans to sell the parcel for about $12 million to Plaza Auto Mall. Auto mall officials have requested a zone change from Brookhaven Town to store up to 5,000 used cars at the site. The plan has faced opposition from Medford residents.
Shereck said he has not spoken to OTB officials. Suffolk OTB president Phil Nolan said he has “not been contacted by anybody about an ice skating rink or anything like that.”
Bill Germano, a Holbrook attorney representing the auto mall, said the arena plan is “really not relevant to our client because we’re in contract with OTB for the parcel.”
Brookhaven Councilman Neil Foley, who represents Medford, said an arena could “affect the quality of life” of residents by increasing traffic. “I do think there are a lot of questions out there,” he said.
Medford civic association leader Brett Houdek said the arena may draw broad community support.
“This is more like what we had in mind for” the OTB site, he said. “We’d like to iron out the details and see if it’s viable.”