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Press release: Plans for new arena announced

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders
(This press release was issued by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano's office today.)

For Immediate Release: May 11, 2011
Contact: Katie Grilli-Robles, Press Secretary, (516) 571-4225

Advances County-wide Public Referendum to Build Ballpark and a
New State-of-the-Art Arena to Retain New York Islanders; Advances Belmont as Preferred Site for Casino

Mineola, NY - Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano was joined today by New York Islanders owner Charles Wang, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, and other business, community and labor leaders in announcing a major Economic Development and Job Creation Plan.  This includes building a world-class sports-entertainment destination center in the heart of Nassau County including a new sports arena and a minor league ballpark.    The County Executive also announced that he, along with New York State Senators Dean Skelos and Jack Martins, will pursue the construction of an Indian gaming casino at Belmont Park.   

“Redeveloping the Hub is critical to creating jobs in our County and stimulating the local economy,” said County Executive Mangano. “With the support of business and community leaders, I am advancing a County-wide public referendum.  This referendum will allow residents to decide whether we should build a sports-entertainment destination at the site of Nassau Coliseum that retains our Islanders, construct a minor league ballpark and create thousands of jobs.”

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray stated, “I commend County Executive Mangano for putting forth an agenda that gives residents a strong voice in the future of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the surrounding site.  I am eager to work with the County Executive, Mr. Charles Wang, State Senators Dean Skelos and Jack Martins as well as local residents to revitalize communities, create jobs and stimulate the economy.”

Given the local economy and prior failed attempts at redevelopment, County Executive Mangano is putting the question of a new sports arena and minor league ballpark to the people.  Citizens will have the opportunity to have their voices heard by deciding the fate of this Economic Development and Job Creation Plan during a County-wide public referendum on August 1, 2011.  At the same time, voters will decide the fate of the New York Islanders, Long Island’s only professional sports team, who face the potential of having to leave Nassau County in 2015 when their lease expires should a new sports arena not be built.  Should residents approve the measure, construction is estimated to begin in 2012, so that the new sports arena can open no later than 2015.

“Without a new arena, we will lose the Islanders, shutter the aging Coliseum and besides losing present jobs, will lose the currently substantial economic benefits including all the existing arena and secondary jobs,” said Mangano.  “The construction of a new home for the Islanders and the redevelopment of the Coliseum site will generate thousands of construction and secondary construction jobs plus thousands of permanent jobs.”

The referendum asks residents if they would like to partner with the County, Islanders and minor league ballpark by providing the financing for capital improvements to the Hub.  In return, the Islanders will compensate residents by paying the County a share of each dollar generated at the new sports arena.  Similarly, all contracts to operate County-owned facilities in the Hub will require operators to compensate the County.  This revenue sharing payment requirement, coupled with sales tax generated from the new facilities, will produce revenue that exceeds the financing required to construct the job generating improvements and establishment of a world-class sports-entertainment destination center.  In short, this plan requires private sector operators to compensate the County the costs of financing the plan. 

Charles Wang, owner of the NY Islanders stated, “It has been a long journey to get to this point and I am extremely confident that a new home for the Islanders will be built and a destination location will be achieved.  Building a new home for our NY Islanders is critical to the future of Long Island and its only professional sports team.  The fans deserve it, and our local economy needs it. Long Island needs an iconic structure and destination and the new arena will be just that.  My commitment has never wavered. Long Island is our home and the New York Islanders are our team.  I am happy to partner with County Executive Mangano and contribute a significant portion of our revenue streams to the County for the construction of the arena.”

The County Executive formed a bipartisan Advisory Committee, to be chaired by former NASDAQ Stock Exchange Chairman Frank Zarb, to consider redevelopment opportunities within Nassau's Hub.  This bipartisan Advisory Committee consists of business, community and labor leaders, all of whom support three main principles of the County Executive’s Economic Development and Job Creation Plan:  the redevelopment of Nassau’s Hub, a public referendum to construct a sports-entertainment destination in the core of Nassau's Hub;  and the construction of an Indian gaming casino at Belmont Park.  

A separate component of the County Executive's plan includes an Indian gaming casino at Belmont Park, developed by the Shinnecock Indian Nation, which will result in an economic boon for the western end of Nassau County.  Once approved by Federal and State officials, an Indian gaming facility will create thousands of additional local jobs and result in hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in local schools, the State, the County and the community.

“With recent Federal recognition of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, a casino on Long Island is likely," said Mangano.  “It is important that Nassau taxpayers benefit from the thousands of jobs and millions in annual revenue a casino will generate for the State and County. Belmont Park is ideal for such a facility.”

New York State Senator Dean Skelos stated, “Elmont and other local communities will greatly benefit from the dollars generated by a casino at Belmont Park.  Now is the time to jump-start our economy and create jobs at both Belmont Park and Nassau Coliseum.”

Shinnecock Indian Nation Tribal President Randy King stated, “The Shinnecock Nation has always made clear that we are ready to partner with communities that want to partner with us, in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, as we pursue economic opportunities for our people that also provide jobs for our neighbors. We welcome the support from Nassau County Executive Mangano and Senators Skelos and Martins. We are prepared to discuss siting a facility at Belmont with the State, the local community and all the stakeholders there.”

Additional Quotes
“Earlier this year, the LIA announced its top priorities for 2011 which included the need to keep the NY Islanders on Long Island and to support a destination center for our region and thus we congratulate County Executive Mangano for his initiative which seeks to achieve both those goals,” said Kevin S. Law, President and CEO of the LIA.

Long Island Federation of Labor President John Durso added, “We in the labor movement look forward to working with our political, community and educational leaders to restart the Hub project.  The construction of a new arena and the development of the surrounding land will bring thousands of good union jobs and millions of dollars into our struggling economy.  Building a casino at Belmont and revitalizing Elmont are just what our County needs. We applaud County Executive Mangano’s efforts and look forward to helping bring it to fruition.”

Jimmy Castellane, President of the Nassau-Suffolk Building Trades stated, “With unemployment reaching 30% in the trade sector, this project is critical to the 65,000 workers I represent.  We support County Executive Mangano’s plan to redevelop the Hub and create thousands of jobs that put our people back to work.”

“This is very exciting news for Elmont and Belmont.  This initiative will help create jobs and make Belmont the destination point it deserves to be. As we move forward in this initiative, I look forward to working with the County and developers to insure that this project is consistent and dovetails with the Elmont community’s vision for Belmont.  The Elmont community is ready and working together we can do two great things- develop Belmont and create jobs in Elmont,” said New York State Senator Jack M. Martins.

Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz stated, “We have long been a proponent for a sound, mixed use development which would include a state of the art arena, sports and entertainment complex, as well as office and research facilities.  I am delighted to work with the County Executive to move forward on these important issues.”

“Without economic development there is no ability to protect the quality of life of Nassau County.  And without the creation of infrastructure to allow for new construction there can be no rational policy for growth, jobs and investment.  The Long Island Contractors’ Association stands with County Executive Mangano in his pursuit of a referendum that puts this issue before those who have most to lose if this property is allowed to lie fallow,” said Marc Herbst, Executive Director of the Long Island Contractors Association.

Coliseum Redevelopment Timeline:
2015 - A new state-of-the-art sports arena will open.
2012 - Construction of a new sports arena can begin.
2011 - A County-wide public referendum will be held on August 1, 2011.
2010 - County Executive Mangano proposes bringing the Shinnecock Indian Nation's casino to the site as a means of financing construction of a new sports arena.
2009 - The Town of Hempstead announces the development of a scaled back zone for the Coliseum site. 
2007 - Nassau County and the Lighthouse Development Group execute a Designated Developer Agreement granting development rights.
2005 - Nassau County completes a Request for Proposal (RFP) process to develop the Coliseum site. 
2004 - NY Islanders owner Charles Wang and Nassau County reveal their plans for transforming the Coliseum and revitalizing the surrounding area.
2003 - NY Islanders owner Charles Wang and Nassau County announce plans to finance the renovation of the existing Coliseum by developing the 77-acre site.
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