The New York Islanders may be playing some games at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum past 2015 after all.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced Forest City Ratner Cos. (FCE/A) as the winning bidder now responsible to remodel the arena that opened its doors in 1972 and the only building the Islanders have called home. That will change in the fall of 2015, when the Islanders move into Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which was built by the winning developers, led by Bruce Ratner.
Ratner's group beat out The Madison Square Garden Co. for the rights to redevelop the Coliseum site. MSG's plan would have renovated the Coliseum and included "Long Island Live," featuring restaurants, shops, sports bars and a public plaza for shows and events.
"We are grateful to be selected to revitalize Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum," Ratner said in a statement. "I would like to thank Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his team for a transparent and well-managed process. We understand and proudly accept the tremendous responsibility that accompanies this project and the impact it has on future generations of Long Islanders.
"We are ready to get to work to deliver a world-class Coliseum and a thriving sports, entertainment and retail center that Long Island deserves. Our partnership group is focused and prepared to bring the best to Nassau and to fulfill the county's goals of vital job growth and significant economic activity.
"It is time for Nassau County to have an iconic and celebrated venue that will have something for everyone to enjoy and which will redefine the customer experience. By having The Madison Square Garden Co. compete with us on this development demonstrates the significance of this project and both of our companies' commitment to Long Island. We are honored to be chosen to deliver a vibrant attraction for a Nassau like never before."
Ratner has promised to host 300 events per year in Uniondale, N.Y. Under his plan, the Islanders would return to the Coliseum to play six home games each season. He will look to attract an American Hockey League franchise as a tenant, and fill other dates with concerts and family shows. The NBA's Brooklyn Nets, the Barclays Center's primary tenant, would play one preseason game at the renovated Coliseum.
"Next up Nassau," Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark (@brettyormark) tweeted shortly after the winning bid was announced. "Really excited to bring the best to Long Island. Work starts now."
After the announcement was made, The Madison Square Garden Co. released the following statement: "While we are disappointed with the county's decision, we are not at all surprised given the history of this project, and will be watching closely as this process moves to the County Legislature. We continue to believe that Madison Square Garden's proposal, expertise and proven track record represent the best and most realistic opportunity to revitalize the Nassau Coliseum. We remain deeply supportive of the efforts to create a rich and vibrant destination for all Long Island residents, and sincerely hope that, regardless of today's decision, Long Island ultimately gets the world-class destination it deserves."