After a months-long study, County Executive Ed Mangano has announced his intention to scale down the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Last week, Mangano formally issued a request for proposals, seeking a private company to reinvent the Uniondale complex. The plan, according to Mangano, is to downsize the arena from its current 16,000-seat capacity to the vicinity of 10,000 seats.
The RFP is the first major action focusing on the Coliseum since Mangano assembled a team in November to conduct a study on the arena and its surroundings, with the goal of maintaining its status as an economic draw.
There have been several roadblocks in attempts to rebuild the Coliseum site in recent years. An initial venture to build a new arena, funded by New York Islanders owner Charles Wang, was met with strict opposition by Town of Hempstead officials and some residents, and ultimately fell through.
In 2011, voters defeated a referendum calling for a publicly financed arena to replace the Coliseum.
Last October, Wang signed a 25-year lease with the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where the Islanders will play their home games beginning in 2015. The announcement made it clear that the 41-year-old Coliseum, which brings tens of thousands of visitors to Nassau County during the NHL season, was in need of revitalization.
A month later, Mangano introduced his development team, comprising Wang and Bruce Ratner — who developed the Barclays Center — as a well as Renaissance Downtowns, a development company led by Don Monti, which will conduct a study of the arena to determine the next steps.
According to a county spokeswoman, the study concluded with Ratner advising Mangano that “a scaled-down arena has the ability to be more profitable for the county, while providing more entertainment for residents.”