Two thousand people filled the plaza between the Nassau Coliseum Box Office and the Long Island Marriott on Wednesday to show their support for all that’s at stake on August 1.
“I came out to support Long Island,” said Valley Stream native Annie Faure. “Not only am I a big Islanders fan, I’m a Long Islander. I thought today was great. There was a great turnout, a lot of people who came out. There are a lot of supporters, which is great.”
Hicksville resident Chris Paci agreed with Faure and is looking forward to the referendum passing so that the county will see a brand new facility to host hundreds of events yearly.
“I’m here to support the rally,” said the Hicksville native Paci. “I will be voting “yes” on Monday because I live in Nassau County and I’d like to see this go further than it is. If the Coliseum is going to be replaced, I’d like to see something better, obviously.”
Paci, an Islanders fan and Coliseum fan in general, said he would hate to see both leave the county because he has such fond memories of the two.
“I have lots of memories here,” Paci said. “Those memories are of Islanders games of course, car shows and the circus. I came to the circus as a kid and then I brought my daughter here to the circus. I have great memories here.”
Though those memories will remain intact, the 46-year-old Paci said he doesn’t need the building to stay here. Instead, he’d like to see something better, something that brings in more people and more events like the ones he has attended in the past.
“If it (Coliseum) were gone, I’ll still have the memories,” Paci said. “I don’t need to have that building here, but I would like something better here to keep those events. It needs to be an upgrade across the board, for people, for jobs.”
A new sports and entertainment venue would create thousands of new jobs for county residents, an idea that would make Faure very happy.
“I’m a recent college graduate and I’m having trouble finding employment,” she said. “Those people (in the crowd) today are suffering, also having trouble finding employment. It doesn’t seem like it should be an issue to me. People need to get jobs. It (building a new arena) needs to get done to help that.”
The creation of jobs seemed to be on the minds of most residents on hand at the rally.
“If the vote is going to create more jobs, I’d really like that,” Paci said. “Honestly, if our taxes are going to go up, I’d like them to go up for a good reason. If it doesn’t pass, someone is still going to have to pay those taxes.”
He added, “As a Nassau resident, I’m going to be one of those people. I’m not going to be very happy about it, and we’re not going to have those jobs they promised.”
Members of the Islanders organization, including Owner Charles Wang and General Manager Garth Snow, as well as Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and members of local unions all spoke to the audience, speeches that ignited “Let’s Go Islanders” and “Build It Now” chants.
“I thought they (the speakers) were really effective,” Faure said. “They definitely said what needed to be said. Garth Snow and Charles Wang were great. I can tell Charles Wang really wants to build Long Island up. He’s not just in it for his money. He’s in it because he wants the Islanders here. He wants the Islanders to have a bigger fan base. He wants us to have a new Coliseum.”
Isles fans and county residents alike don’t want to see the Islanders leave, and if the referendum is not passed, that is something that will likely happen. For the 24-year-old Faure, losing the Islanders would be very upsetting.
“I’ll be devastated,” Faure said. “The Islanders are the one thing I have. I went to college up-state and everyone is a big Buffalo fan. I was the only Islanders fan at my school, but that’s who I am. That’s who I’ve been my whole life. No matter what changes I’ve gone through in life, I’ve always been an Islanders fan, so it would be like a piece of me is missing.”
If this doesn’t pass, that’s going to be a waste. We’re going to lose the Islanders. We’re going to lose jobs. That will be awful. All we can do is hope now. - Chris Paci
Paci agreed and couldn’t have said it better.
“If this doesn’t pass, that’s going to be a waste,” Paci said. “We’re going to lose the Islanders. We’re going to lose jobs. That will be awful. All we can do is hope now.”
Hope, and thousands of residents voting yes on August 1, is what Nassau County needs to keep the Coliseum, to keep the Islanders, to keep the economy alive and well for years to come.