Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

Nassau Coliseum workers need developer to keep promise

Exterior of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum at sunset.

Exterior of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum at sunset. (July 15, 2011) Credit: Newsday / Danielle Finkelstein

The barn doors are about to close, leaving many on the outside looking in -- unemployed, with a very uncertain future.

When Nassau Coliseum shutters next month for renovations, 2,500 part-time and 40 full-time employees will lose their jobs. Some worked at the arena for more than 40 years. But as of now, they have no assurances of a job, or even an interview, when the doors reopen.

Two years ago, when developer Bruce Ratner was seeking approval of his plans to lease the Coliseum land, he sounded far more certain.

" . . . Number one is to hire the existing people that are there. We do not want people to be out of jobs," he told county legislators.

Now that those people are losing their jobs, no one in Ratner's camp is reiterating that commitment. They say it's premature, especially since a new arena operator, who will do the hiring, hasn't been chosen.

But the thousands out of work -- those who may well be the only link between the new and old arena -- deserve more.

While all the former workers may not be needed in the renovated arena, they deserve prioritity for the new slots.

Uncertainty has always surrounded Nassau Coliseum -- but that has to change. Ratner should make a clear, public statement now, telling existing employees that they'll be first in line for jobs when the arena reopens. And then, he has to keep his promises.