Among those who made presentations on May 2 were developers that have successful track records of arena development — the Madison Square Garden Company, which just completed an extensive refurbishment of the world’s most famous arena, and Nassau Events Center LLC, a company formed by the developers of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Both committed to building not only a new Coliseum, but also an entertainment district surrounding it, with restaurants, shops and other retail space. Both also promised to deliver a professional sports team.
The other two groups, New York Sports and Entertainment LLC and Blumenfeld Development Ltd., offered ambitious plans as well.
The interest in the arena is indicative of just how important the project is. The county must get it right this time.
In 2011, the Town of Hempstead approved new zoning for the site that allows hotels, businesses, residential units and entertainment facilities in addition to a new or refurbished Coliseum. The zoning gives any future developer a clear-cut blueprint of exactly how work can be done, so any political power- or credit-grabbing should no longer be an issue.
We are told that Mangano — with the aid of his business council — will choose a developer within six weeks. The proposal will then be sent to the Legislature for its approval.
This is where the county must continue to be transparent in its decision-making. We applaud Mangano for holding a public press conference to reveal the four proposals, but that’s not enough. Even though the plan is for a privately financed arena, at no cost to taxpayers, it is still an enormous project that must continue to invite public input. Savvy residents know that with an undertaking of this size, there is simply no avoiding public expense.
The Legislature will hold hearings prior to making a decision, and Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves confirmed that community input would be sought. We hope the county keeps that promise.