Las Vegas Sands has paid a total of $241 million...

Las Vegas Sands has paid a total of $241 million to acquire a lease to control the Nassau Coliseum site in Uniondale. Credit: Neil Miller

Daily Point

Company says it remains official Hub tenant through an older lease

Despite the litigation brought by Hofstra University to attempt to void Nassau County’s recent lease with Las Vegas Sands for the Nassau Hub, the casino giant insists it remains in control of the vast property and can initiate development steps, several sources confirmed to The Point.

An appellate division panel last month denied the county a temporary stay of a Nassau Supreme Court decision voiding Las Vegas Sands’ new lease on the Nassau Hub, seemingly putting an immediate stop to anything Sands could do on the property. The appeals court has yet to rule on the actual merits of Nassau’s appeal.

But Sands isn’t waiting. In two letters sent to the Town of Hempstead, Sands executives and their attorneys note that prior to executing the new lease, the previous lease – which had been held by EB-5 investment deal middleman Nick Mastroianni II through an entity called Nassau Live Center, or NLC – was assigned to Sands.

That means that Sands remains the official tenant of Nassau Coliseum and the land surrounding it, even if it’s under the previous lease terms – terms that weren’t as generous when it comes to rent payments and community benefits. And it means the Town of Hempstead’s planned environmental review can continue to move forward.

According to Sands general counsel Zac Hudson, who presides over Sands’ New York entity, the assignment of the lease vests Sands New York with all of the leaseholder’s “rights, title, interest and estate in, to and under the NLC lease.”

As a result, Hudson wrote in a letter to Hempstead officials, Sands can continue to operate Nassau Coliseum – and move forward with the town's environmental review on its plans for the rest of the property, which include the construction of a casino resort.

“LVS NY remains committed to both the current operation of the Nassau Coliseum and its future development as contemplated by the New Lease,” Hudson wrote. “LVS NY hopes to continue its efforts to develop the Nassau Coliseum into a world-class facility that will be beneficial to the community and the surrounding areas.”

Hudson noted that Sands is still holding sports and entertainment events at the Coliseum and outlined in detail the terms of the new lease, including the promised rent payments, adding that Sands intends “to comply with the commitments and obligations established in the New Lease.”

Sands attorney Daniel J. Baker, with Garden City-based law firm Greenberg Traurig, wrote in a separate letter that the lower court decision in the Hofstra case to invalidate the new lease doesn’t impact the old lease – or the decision to transfer it to Sands.

As a result, the Town of Hempstead will be able to hold the scoping hearings as originally scheduled on Jan. 18. Some of the initial environmental studies already have begun. A source with knowledge of the review said the traffic study, for instance, will include an analysis of 114 intersections potentially impacted by Sands’ plans.

“This will be more expansive in scope and duration than what one would expect to see in any SEQRA process,” said attorney Steven Losquadro, who is the town’s special counsel tasked with handling the Hub environmental review. “It’s really a monumental undertaking, as well it should be. The town is committed to doing the very best it can to protect the residents’ interests.”

Losquadro said that even with the ongoing legal battles over the new lease, the assignment of the old lease provides the town with assurance that Sands remains the leaseholder – and is in control of the property, a standard necessary for the environmental review to continue. He said a mailing will go out to all Hempstead residents regarding the upcoming hearings, and a website will be established where all documents and other materials will be posted.

Meanwhile, the state Gaming Commission is still gathering answers to the 450 questions submitted in the second round of questioning, the ongoing stage of the casino licensing process. Once the commission is finished and posts those responses, applicants like Las Vegas Sands will have 30 days to submit their applications for one of three available downstate licenses.

— Randi F. Marshall

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Final Point

Who made the cut for Romaine’s first-day guest list?

In politics for five decades, newly inaugurated Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine, a Republican, surely knows a lot of elected officials, but which ones do you invite to your swearing-in ceremony?

The master of all local ceremonies, Sen. Chuck Schumer rearranged his New Year’s Day schedule in order to deliver best wishes in person at the event in a Manorville high school auditorium.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, another top Democrat and Long Islander with bipartisan appeal, was there. Gov. Kathy Hochul got an invite but sent regards. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s regional director, Michael Scheid, showed up in her stead.

On the Republican side of the aisle, both of Suffolk County’s representatives in the House of Representatives, Andrew Garbarino and Nick LaLota, were there. Romaine’s good buddy and former State Sen. John Flanagan controlled the podium for the event.

But one very familiar face was missing, Romaine’s predecessor Steven Bellone was not invited to the ceremony, The Point has learned.

Over in Nassau County, the closest parallel would be Republican Tom Gulotta, who did not run for reelection in 2001, but had a front-row seat at the 2002 inauguration of Tom Suozzi, the first Democrat to win the county executive seat in three decades.

Democrat Bellone could not run again after serving the maximum number of three terms. While Bellone supported Romaine’s opponent in the race last year he had also worked closely with Romaine, who was Brookhaven Town supervisor during his tenure.

It’s a situation with little recent precedent in Suffolk. When Bellone first won in 2009, his Republican predecessor, Steve Levy, had agreed to abandon his reelection bid and dismantle his campaign chest in a bizarre agreement with the former Suffolk district attorney that reverberates to this day. That would have had all the messy trappings of the ex-spouse showing up to the wedding.

Bellone declined to discuss the matter. Romaine’s office acknowledges that a “printed invitation” was not sent to the former county executive. “The inauguration was open to all,” said spokesman Mike Martino.

— Rita Ciolli

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