Dozens of local businesses fear the closing of the Coliseum and the loss of the Islanders. They’ll all hit major economic losses.
More than any other local establishment though, Hooters in East Meadow could see the most drastic effect if Nassau County residents don’t ‘vote yes’ on August 1. As a sports bar and restaurant, Hooters sees its largest crowds and brings in its most money before, during and after concerts and Islanders games that take place at the Coliseum.
According to General Manager Brett Cruickshank, Hooters would be one of the hardest hit establishments if a new arena is not built in Nassau County. For that reason, he and his restaurant are pledging support to passing the referendum and for building a new arena.
“We are absolutely in full support,” Cruickshank said. “We absolutely would lose business and there would be a huge drop in sales if there is no new arena and if the Islanders have to leave Nassau County.”
He said financially, those numbers are very apparent.
“When the Islanders have a game, we’ll have an extra $3,000 in sales, just in that one day,” Cruickshank said. “Throw in another one or two games that week, and well, that’s even more. That is just huge for us. That’s an eight to nine percent increase in business.”
That’s business and money that Hooters cannot afford to lose. Cruickshank said that a new arena will help the local businesses bring in more customers, even while it’s being built.
“The construction of a new arena would give us an increase in sales for the couple years that it’s being built,” he said. “That means an even bigger increase in sales after it’s built. There also would definitely be an increase in traffic coming through the restaurant. We most definitely get an influx of people that come in during Islanders games. Just think what a new arena would do for us.”
Hooters sees that same increase during concerts that take place at the Coliseum. Depending on the type of concert, Cruickshank said it’s the same as an Isles game day.
“I know with rock shows, we’ll have a lot more business,” Cruickshank said. “If there isn’t a Coliseum, there won’t be those types of concerts, which in turn, affects us as well.”
He added that Nassau County residents would be forced to travel outside of the county to see concerts at venues like Madison Square Garden, giving restaurants near those other venues an increase in business. That will leave restaurants here in the county to be left in the dust, much like what the Coliseum lot will look like if allowed to go empty.
“Business-wise, having it (a new arena) here would mean a lot more money coming in, not just from the local residents, but from more people outside of Hempstead,” Cruickshank said. “People from outside areas who don’t usually come in would more than likely come in to see a show at a new arena.”
Without Cruickshank’s business, his employees will also lose their jobs.
“If this doesn’t pass, it will absolutely affect my employees, as they all live in the area,” he said. “If this does pass, they’ll make more money and then be able to spend more money at other local businesses.”
Cruickshank likened the situation to a cycle. Everyone can help each other with a new arena. He’s also noticed how it’s not just his employees who want the Aug. 1 referendum to pass; it’s also his customers.
“A lot of the people want to vote yes and want the referendum to pass and I really hope it does,” he said. “It would mean a great deal to this area.”
Hopefully, the owls won’t be only ones to see the light.