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MacArthur Airport to tout convenience in Nassau Coliseum advertisements

Nassau Coliseum is seen on Sept. 21, 2013.

Nassau Coliseum is seen on Sept. 21, 2013. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

Long Island MacArthur Airport plans to start advertising at Nassau Coliseum in the hopes of convincing hockey fans and national television audiences that the Ronkonkoma airport is an easy alternative to those in New York City.

The Islip Town Board unanimously voted to allocate as much as $50,000 for the yearlong advertising campaign, to launch in time for the 2014-2015 New York Islanders season. The campaign is to include video spots on the rink's scoreboards and signage on kiosks.

The campaign also is part of local efforts to promote tourism on Long Island.

"This is in conjunction with the Long Island Visitors Bureau and the vineyards on the East End to market Long Island as a destination -- fly to New York City with MacArthur, but also fly to Long Island," Islip Supervisor Tom Croci said after the Aug. 5 vote.

The airport used to draw enough business travelers connected to the local defense industry that "there wasn't a reliance or a serious investment in the tourism aspect," he said.

Now that promoting tourism, not business, is the primary goal, "we might as well use all of our assets, and we might as well use it to help market our destinations," Croci said.

Airport Commissioner Bob Schaefer said MacArthur advertised in the Coliseum for part of last year's National Hockey League season. The Islanders pay the town $30,000 to place advertisements in the airport.

MacArthur also advertises in the new beer garden at Jones Beach and at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury.

The struggling airport has lost an estimated $5.6 million since 2010. Two regional airlines, PenAir and Allegiant Air, ended service at MacArthur this year.

Officials said the association with the Islanders will help their search for new airlines.

"In trying to appeal to airlines in different markets who are looking for a destination market for their travelers ... the connection with the NHL and a major sports team is helpful," Croci said.

Kristen Matejka, marketing director of the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, said MacArthur was a "huge asset" for the $5 billion local tourism industry.

"We look at any ways we can work with the airport to promote travel to Long Island. One of the ways we've done this over the past couple years is to develop an ad campaign directed to markets that have direct flights to Long Island," she said, citing recent campaigns in Baltimore and Boston.

Aviation consultant Michael Boyd, of the Evergreen, Colorado-based Boyd Group International, said the campaign was the right move for MacArthur's image as the easier alternative to New York City's airports. "The Nassau Coliseum, that's where you should be," he said. "It's a much easier way to go than driving to the city."

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