Is NYC looking at the Coliseum as a temporary shelter for migrants?
Don’t want a casino at the Nassau Hub?
How about temporary, congregate-style housing for asylum-seekers who’ve come to New York from border states like Texas?
New York City is apparently eyeing Nassau Coliseum as a potential site for some of the thousands of people who’ve been traveling to the city via bus from Texas and elsewhere, and need a place to stay.
And the Coliseum leaseholder says he’s interested.
The city put out a request for proposals for “humanitarian and emergency response and relief centers” — open to facilities across the state — late last year. Sources tell The Point that during a recent meeting with officials and advocates from across the state, city officials mentioned the Coliseum as an example of the kind of site that would work best to meet the need. And city officials told the meeting participants any deal with the RFP winners would be “lucrative.”
So perhaps it’s no surprise that Nick Mastroianni II, who holds the Coliseum lease, is intrigued.
The RFP comes as Las Vegas Sands executives have announced plans to bid for a casino license at the Nassau Hub. That would require the Nassau County Legislature to approve the transfer of the lease on the Coliseum from Mastroianni to Sands.
In a statement to The Point, Mastroianni noted that using the Coliseum for emergency housing isn’t his first choice.
“It is our hope that the county will approve the lease transfer to Sands to develop a transformational world-class resort,” Mastroianni said. “Were the county to decline our lease transfer, however, we would be looking at all options, including this RFP.”
Since taking on the arena lease, Mastroianni said his company has suffered “losses for us that amount to tens of millions of dollars,” due to COVID-19, the new UBS Arena at Belmont Park, and “a recession in everything but official recognition.”
“We would be committing business malpractice for us not to consider the current RFP that seeks safe, appropriate space for emergency housing,” Mastroianni said in the statement.
The Coliseum lease seems to allow the arena to be used for such housing. The lease says the arena must be used for “any purpose or purposes which … provide for the benefit of the people of the County and surrounding areas within the region.” And, Mastroianni noted, the Coliseum already has been designated by Nassau County as a safe haven and emergency evacuation center in the event of storms or other severe weather.
A county spokesman did not immediately return requests for comment.
Responses to the RFP are due no later than March 3. That could be right around the time the Nassau County Legislature will be ready to evaluate and vote on the lease transfer.
Perhaps Mastroianni is betting that area residents — and county lawmakers — would prefer a casino to any housing at the Hub.