UNIONDALE - County Executive Ed Mangano (R-Nassau), New York Islanders owner Charles Wang and Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray came together this morning to unveil a major economic-development and job-creation plan for Nassau Coliseum. Click 'NEXT' for Nassau taxpayers' reactions to the plan.
The plan includes building a world-class sports and entertainment destination center in the heart of Nassau County. The 77-acre parcel of land will also include a new sports arena and a minor league ballpark.
Mangano announced that he, along with state Sens. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Jack Martins (R-Mineola), will also pursue the construction of a Shinnecock Nation casino at Belmont Park, although the tribe has seemingly expressed interest in building a casino near the Coliseum.
The county executive says he wants taxpayers to approve a plan to borrow up to $400 million to finance the construction during a countywide public referendum scheduled for Aug. 1. At the same time, voters will be able to decide the fate of the New York Islanders.
The team faces the prospect of having to leave Nassau County in 2015 when its lease expires, should a new sports arena not be built.
Mangano says if residents approve the measure, construction is estimated to begin in 2012 so that the new sports arena can open no later than 2015. In that case, the Islanders will have a home at least through 2045.
Wang is on board with the plan, despite the fact that his grand-scale plan for the space, known as the Lighthouse Project, failed.
"It's frustrating, but in life you can't keep looking at the back-view mirror," he says.
Mangano says the arena could also be used to hold concerts, circus performances and even conventions. In return, the county executive says the Islanders and the ballpark owner will compensate residents by paying Nassau a yet-to-be-determined share of each dollar the new facility generates.
However, the county executive's reassurances that the construction of the complex won't cost taxpayers a dime have some local residents on edge.
Mangano offered no specifics today on the revenue sharing between the county, the Islanders and vendors, raising questions among taxpayers and lawmakers alike.
In a statement today, the state watchdog group NIFA said it was deeply troubled by the financial implications of today's announcement, adding that "NIFA's approval is required for all county borrowing, including the $400 million in new debt proposed today and for all major contracts."
For coverage of the Nassau Coliseum announcement in Uniondale, go to your digital cable box and select iO Extra on Ch. 612.
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