Local business owners and labor unions congregated inside the Nassau Coliseum box office on Monday morning for an impromptu press conference to deliver a message to Long Island: We need a new arena in Nassau County.
Led by Brian Rosenberg, a local business owner and President of the Long Island Restaurant Association, 10 speakers took to the podium to address the media.
“As a business owner, I count on the Islanders and the Nassau Coliseum to be here forever,” Rosenberg said. “It is hard enough today, in our economic struggles, to survive as a local business. To take something away like this team and this Coliseum, to our local businesses, it’s a travesty.”
|Nassau County residents and employees look on at an impromptu press conference regarding a new arena inside the Nassau Coliseum box office May 23, 2011. |
In addition to relying on arena events to increase patrons at his business, Rosenberg explained the importance of keeping a pro sports team on Long Island.
He said, “I look up to the rafters and I see four championships. Teams go lifetimes without championships like that and this team can have one again with the right building. We have an owner, who I’ve never met by the way… but I wish every team I (am a fan of), had an owner like Charles Wang.”
Rosenberg continued, “That’s winning the lottery for the New York Islanders. He’s been losing money for years, but he continues to stay steadfast on staying here and being part of this community. Most owners would have left a long time ago.”
The speakers made their plea for a call to action and asked thousands of business owners, fans and Nassau County residents to join the rally in front of the Nassau County Legislative Building on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. People were asked to congregate on the corner of Old Country Road at 1550 Franklin Avenue in Mineola in front of the Theodore Roosevelt statue.
The rally coincides with a Nassau County Legislative hearing regarding the proposed $400 million bond referendum to build a new state-of-the-art sports destination including a world-class arena and minor league ballpark in Nassau County’s hub.
The hearing will include a vote by the 19 Nassau County Legislators who would place the public referendum on the ballot Aug. 1, if passed.
Bruce Avery, General Manager of Hofstra Radio (WRHU-FM), spoke at the press conference and said, “We need to have a world-class centerpiece, a family safe and affordable centerpiece, a student safe and affordable recreation destination here in Hempstead and Uniondale... Building a new Coliseum would keep this hub viable and breathe life into this area.”
Avery continued, “Mr. Wang is a visionary. He’s proven this many times before, including taking us on as the flagship radio station of the Islanders. We are the only student operated station in history to be a flagship station of a major market sports team and our relationship has been nothing short of extraordinary.”
As a life-long Nassau County resident and Hofstra University Radio’s professional-in-residence, Ed Ingles summed up the Islanders existence perfectly.
|Ed Ingels, professional-in-residence at Hofstra Radio, looks on as Bruce Avery, General Manager of Hofstra Radio, speaks at an impromptu press conference regarding a new arena inside the Nassau Coliseum box office May 23, 2011. |
“I covered those four Stanley Cups and that was a great thing to cover,” Ingles said. “The synergy in this building and the whole community had something to wrap their arms around, which is vital. You need something to gather yourself together and a major sports team does that for a community.”
Ingles continued, “I don’t want to come back in here 10 years from now and look out and see grass growing in between the parking lot and come here and see a dust bowl. That’s unacceptable. Long Island cannot become, Nassau County cannot become, the largest community without a major sports team. The Islanders belong here. They are us. Let’s keep them here.”
Several labor organizations were well represented at the event, reiterating the economic importance of the new arena.
“If this referendum passes, it will be a great shot in the arm for our local economy,” said Peter Zarcone, the representative from the Nassau/Suffolk Building Trades Council and Labors Union Local 66. “I say the local economy because too many times our projects have gone out to out-of-state contractors and out-of-state workers. And that takes good jobs from Long Islanders. That does nothing for our local economy.”
Zarcone left with one sentiment, “Build better. Build safer. Build union. So now, let’s build the Nassau Coliseum and keep our New York Islanders home on Long Island where they belong.”
If approved, the public referendum will ensure the Islanders will stay on Long Island through 2045.