There are three weeks and counting until August 1st and Nassau County residents have their fate in their hands as the referendum vote looms large.
The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum has been a center in Nassau County since it opened in 1972. Thousands of games, concerts and family events have taken place under the (currently leaking) Coliseum roof, but it remains to be seen if those same events will take place under a brand new roof in 2015.
If the August 1 referendum passes and ground is broken on a new arena, small business and restaurant owners will be thrilled. Large numbers of customers will pack their establishments during games and events at the Coliseum. They will also stay busy during the day thanks to 3,000 new employees in the area.
Frank’s Steaks of Jericho and Rockville Centre is one of those local restaurants surely to be affected by this referendum, one way or another.
Naturally, the owner of Frank’s Steaks, Rich Gerzoff, is a huge supporter of a new Coliseum because he says games and events at the current Coliseum generate added business to his restaurants.
“Nassau Coliseum is a magnet for people,” Gerzoff said. “If you have that magnet, you’re going to do more business. We have all become accustomed to having the Coliseum as a major draw in Nassau County.”
So what happens if that magnet ceases to exist?
With nothing pulling people to central Nassau, local businesses and restaurants will feel a hit. Gerzoff said his business noticeably increases when there is a game or event held at the Coliseum.
“The Islanders are a monumental entity on Long Island,” Gerzoff said. “They create business for many different industries. Whether the team is doing well or not, the games will generate customers coming in and having dinner before and after games, coming specifically from the Coliseum. Having the Coliseum on Long Island has generated lots of business for me.”
With two locations in Nassau County residents and welcomed visitors have been getting their fill of Frank’s Steaks since 1988. According to Gerzoff, a partner of the Islanders, his restaurants and others in the area have benefited greatly from the Coliseum.
“With all of the concerts and shows at the Coliseum, it’s a tremendous boost to the Nassau County economic development,” Gerzoff said. “Everybody who attends anything at the Coliseum has to use services contingent with the Coliseum.”
Frank’s Steaks is just one of those many services that are utilized by people who are going to or headed from the Coliseum. Frank’s Steaks’ partnership with the Islanders has proved to be very valuable for both parties over the years. Since the Islanders have professional relationships with a large number of local businesses and restaurants in Nassau County, those businesses become intertwined through their mutual Islanders connection.
“One of the nice things about having a partnership with the Islanders is that you become part of a business community,” Gerzoff said. “There are many different companies involved with the Islanders organization and it sets you up with a nice network of businesses that creates business for them, as well as us.”
Aug. 1 will be a vital day for that business community. They will discover if the Hub will stay intact beyond 2015. Islanders Owner Charles Wang has attempted to build a new arena in the Hub for the better part of a decade and this looks to be his final attempt.
Gerzoff is confident that a new arena in Nassau County would be extremely positive for the local residents and business owners. If a new magnet is built, people cannot help but be drawn to it; it’s the laws of attraction.
“Every new sports facility over the last 10 years has had a positive effect on the entire neighborhood, city and county that they’re built in,” Gerzoff said. “A new Coliseum would be no different.”
In recent years, the Yankees, Mets, Jets/Giants, Devils, Nets and Red Bulls have all broken ground on new arenas. Madison Square Garden, home to the Rangers and Knicks, is currently undergoing its second major renovation. Nassau Coliseum opened 39 years ago and has never had a major renovation.
To Gerzoff, a new arena in Nassau County would mean that a greater selection of concerts and events will travel to Long Island, another bonus for residents and local companies.
“A new Coliseum would attract better shows, better athletes, better conventions and we would become a player in the sports and entertainment industries,” Gerzoff said.
Islanders fans, local business owners and all Nassau County residents will be greatly affected in one way or another after the decision is made Aug. 1. Whether Nassau County residents come out to vote in support of their team or their future does not matter. To Gerzoff the two go hand-in-hand.
“A new Coliseum will help the Islanders improve greatly,” Gerzoff said. “We’ve lost players for less money to other teams because they didn’t want to play in Nassau Coliseum. If you bring in better players, you’re going to have a better team and the entire business climate in the Nassau County region will perform much better.”