11 May 2011
It was a very eventful day at the Nassau Coliseum, as county executive, Ed Mangano, Town of Hempstead supervisor, Kate Murray, and Islanders owner Charles Wang gathered to unveil their plan for a new arena and sports-entertainment destination in the Nassau Hub.
As expected the turn out by the fans was not huge, but for a Wednesday morning it wasn’t too shabby either. The Union workers made up a large percentage of the crowd (they organized very quickly for this press conference.) Also chanting throughout, “Build it now!” Along with holding up a giant sign that read “We Need Jobs Now.” As far as fan turn out it was slim at best, again mainly because it’s a Wednesday morning and unless you have a very understanding boss or a college kid on summer break your not getting time off to come.
Moving on, Mangano, Murray, and Wang addressed the throngs of reporters who had shown up, including full Newsday team, Daily News, Bloomberg News, WFAN, all the local TV news stations and others. That just gives you a sense of how big today’s press conference was.
In Mangano’s time at the podium he revealed the full details of the plan, a new arena, a minor league baseball stadium and sports-entertainment destination.
A referendum will be voted on August 1st for the residents of Nassau County to decide whether they want to “partner with the county and the Islanders.”
Interesting enough, it was learned today that should the referendum pass, the Islanders and any subsequent businesses to operate in county owned facilities in the “Nassau Hub” will have to compensate the county. The Islanders in particular will be giving the county a share of each dollar generated from the new sports arena, mean revenue from shows and sporting events held at the new Coliseum.
"The intention and plan is to not cost the tax payer one single dime,” Mangano said at one point. During the Q & A portion Mangano told the crowd that, “in essence Mr.Wang will be paying for the coliseum,” after he was asked about the subject by Hockey Buzz’s Dee Karl.
Both Charles Wang and Kate Murray spoke to the assembled crowd of media, fans and union members that were on hand. Wang, who was greeted with a nicer reception than Murray, continued to express his optimism and commitment to Long Island and keeping the Islanders here. He said that his commitment has never wavered.
Murray was booed when it was her turn to speak. Her response, “hey, I’m not a Ranger fan.” A light hearted attempt to defuse a crowd that was clearly not filled with her supporters. Murray voiced her support of the newly proposed project and expressed her excitement in getting to work to help revitalize the community and create jobs.
Following the speeches, the group opened the floor to reporters who had questions for Wang, Murray, or Mangano. Here is five minutes from the Q & A session.
Then after that wrapped up, the media was taken back to a private area where everyone from Wang and Mangano to the Islanders players in attendance addressed reporters.
Ed Mangano: unfortunately since the media scrum was so large and since Charles Wang started talking to reporters in the middle of Mangano speaking to reporters I only have quick 42 second clip of Mangano talking.
Charles Wang: He addressed reporters about his optimism that this will pass and the Islanders will stay on Long Island. He also addressed whether this would help attract more free agents to Long Island.
Rick Dipietro: Addressed his excitement for the project going forward and the team remaining on Long Island. Also spoke about how it affects players, since there has been uncertainty for the past several years.
Garth Snow: This is a two parter because I stopped recording at one point and then proceeded to begin recording again. Snow Spoke about how this new plan helps answer free agents questions about where the Islanders will be in a few years.
Analysis: This is the best and possible last chance at keeping the Islanders in Nassau County. The foundations of the proposed plan are seemingly something no one can argue against, create jobs, improve the economy, and keep the Islanders in Nassau County and on Long Island. The idea of a revenue sharing between the Islanders and the county, as well as having other business in the hub share revenue with the county, also seems to be a good idea. It’s a way to reassure residents that they will reap the economic rewards that this whole project would bring and that their initial “investment” (I guess you could call it that, seemed like everyone else did today) will not just seeming disappear.
However, there was very little detail on the proposed revenue sharing idea during today’s event. No one could give any figures on how much or how long it will take for the county to be reimbursed. Which in turn raises questions to any potential voter, who will control the destiny of the Islanders and the Nassau Coliseum come August 1st. Also, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority has expressed its’ own concerns about how this new proposal could affect the county’s fiscal crisis.
There are some major obstacles that will need to be overcome in the next few months for the referendum to pass and it will not be an easy ride for Islanders fans. This is truly the beginning of the end as far as the arena drama goes, I’m sure you’ve heard that before but this time it’s true. Today was the most significant progress we’ve had towards getting a new arena in a very long time. Saying what will happen next is anyone’s guess, but the end is finally in sight.
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