Let’s face it: The golden years of the Nassau Coliseum have come and gone.
The building that cost $32 million to construct back in 1972 has become obsolete by today’s standards for arenas. Over the past decade, there have been several proposals to rebuild or renovate the now outdated arena. None, however, came to fruition.
But now, Nassau County is struggling financially, and it’s time to make a decision that will be mutually beneficial for the future of the arena and taxpayers.
Last year, County Executive Ed Mangano announced that he would seek requests for proposals to reconstruct the Coliseum and create an even stronger economic fixture for the people of Long Island. On May 2, the final four bidders revealed their plans.
Mangano made the right choice in putting this out to bid. All four proposals are different, but intriguing, and they have great potential. The taxpayers are the real winners here.
The redevelopment process has a long history, but the time has come to make a decision for the future.
In 2004, Charles Wang, the owner of the New York Islanders, introduced a mega-redevelopment plan known as the Lighthouse project. The proposal sought to turn the 77 acres of undeveloped land around the Coliseum into an attraction. Wang’s vision of constructing a 60-story lighthouse-like skyscraper that would be surrounded by apartment buildings, a new practice and training facility for the Islanders, a five-star hotel and restaurant, a large outdoor concert venue and a newly expanded Coliseum never really gained the support he expected, especially with a $3.8 billion price tag and the downturn in the economy.
In 2011, Wang tried again, using a public referendum. The people of Nassau County turned down a plan that would have allowed him to borrow $400 million from taxpayers to rebuild the arena.
In response, Wang announced that in 2015, when the Islanders’ lease at Nassau Coliseum is up, he would move the team to the newly constructed Barclays Center in Brooklyn. This will be a major economic loss for Nassau County.