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Red Flags For Coliseum Project Shows Parallels to Avalon Bay

While this may be more of a Nassau County issue, I feel it’s still relevant to all Long Island. The Nassau Coliseum referendum project is a pivot point for all Long Island. On a Monday in August, residents will vote–a vote still yet to be determined as legally binding–on whether they want to allow the County to fund this project.

How does this relate to Avalon Bay in Huntington Station? Allow me to explain. When there is the need to take an important issue such as the re-building of the Coliseum and put it before the citizens expected to foot the bill, it deserves scrutiny. The first question I ask is, can they really afford it? The finances of Nassau County are akin to a patient with a serious disease. While the disease is curable and the patient may be showing signs of hope, any doctor would prescribe rest to help the recovery process. So, basically, a trek up climb Mt. Kilimanjaro would be the wrong activity to recommend.

Why are the leaders of Nassau County so willing to take such a risky financial hike? Is Nassau County on such solid ground that it can undertake this investment? The folks from NIFA, the state-appointed group overseeing the County’s finances, don’t seem to think so. That’s a big red flag. The supporters love to illustrate the potential benefits that come with the project. Thousands of jobs, increased revenues, etc. I say prove it. All one has to do is review stadium construction projects around the U.S. in the past 20 years and see how truly beneficial they have been. I reviewed these projects and  discovered that remarkably, many projects have resulted in buyers remorse. The stadium/arena projects did not generate the expected returns but left the supporting municipal entity with a heavy debt burden, which falls directly on the backs of citizens. Another red flag.

Newsday seems most guilty of this fact scrubbing. The paper itself is a terminal patient whose relevance has long subsided. It acts as a cheerleader for the arena and has failed to deliver reports of its real long-term costs. But perhaps owners are fearful that their lucrative cable broadcasts would go black should no team be housed in an old arena. My rates might actually go down then. But not likely. The relationship is too chummy and there is a lack of fair reporting. Another red flag.

And that brings me to the most touchy subject. How much of a hockey fan base exists on Long Island to support a team? I grew up in the 1970s in Nassau County. Every third person seemed to be a hockey fan back then and when the run of Stanley Cups started, Long Island was the envy of all the NHL. But that glory and greatness ended almost 27 years ago. A lot has changed. Fans retired and moved away. Long Island’s housing market exploded and young people, first-time home buyers, moved away. There are more distractions like the Internet, and travel by air is easy and cheap so folks can entertain themselves away from Long Island. And the newest wave of immigrants settling in our neighborhoods are from places around the world where ice never forms and hockey is an unknown entity. Where is the future fan base of hockey on Long Island. This is another huge red flag.

Why the shades of Avalon Bay? Because a referendum of such vital importance and huge economic impact is being held on a Monday in August. And because so many questions are unanswered and the same spooky coalitions can’t wait to break ground on the project, which makes me sad that more residents have not organized a drive for truth and clarification on the project. If this were such a strong initiative, it would not need a summertime vote. I’m certain the same coalition of the corrupt that jammed Avalon Bay down the throats of the Town of Huntington will succeed in fleecing the taxpayers of Nassau.

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26 comments to Red Flags For Coliseum Project Shows Parallels to Avalon Bay

  • RWM

    Islanders account for 41 days on the calendar, over 200 other events are held there each year. What happens when Nassau had to foot 5-6 million per year to maintain the property after the Islanders leave? (Wang has been footing that bill for many years out of his pocket).
    What happens when 9+ million per year in direct tax revenue is gone once the anchor tenant leaves?
    What happens when the Marriott and many surrounding business fold because they count on the events to stay in business?

    All over runs in building Wang is footing the bill for.

    What happens in 10 years when the place needs to be bulldozed?

    Annually the county will lose/spend ~15 million when the Islanders go and more as the place deteriorates. OR they could at the worst case scenario with a new building lose 11 million per year, but likely they will make money after a few years.

    Please research some facts before you write a piece like this.

  • Marshall Field

    I commend the author on a great post. It seems that you did do your homework on arenas/stadiums built with taxpayer money and what eventually happened ten twenty years later. Building a stadium and or arena by using taxpayer funds at a time when the county of nassau and the country are in geat debt and economic trouble is irresponsible. As the author said so many red flags are raised. Newsday/cablevision does not supply a fair and accurate account of what should take place. As with Avalon Bay and any other higher density housing development, they are for it.Red flags are all over the place which is why Avalon Bay is not a done deal. This will be in the courts and Petrone’s regime will be dealt a serious blow this election.

    • Iratus Civis

      Thank you!

    • Anonymous

      Actually, the two have almost nothing in common. You can’t compare stadiums that were privately financed like CitiField, Yankee Stadium, New Meadowlands Stadium. Those are all owned by their respective teams. The Coliseum is owned by the county. Would you foot the bill on a new building that you don’t own? I didn’t think so. Thirty percent of the revenue of the Coliseum comes from the Islanders when it only takes up a little more than 11% of the available dates. If the Islanders leave, there will be no concerts there because the viability of the arena will seriously in doubt and they won’t be able to staff it. And when the Islanders move and the Coliseum closes, let’s see how much people’s taxes go up then. By then, it will be too late.

      The issue with Huntington Station is not the we need more people there. With Avalon Bay going up, who thinks that the residents are going to shop in the Station when they can go into the Village? The business district needs cleaning up. Provide a clean safe area that competes with the Village of Huntington with nice shops and restaurants and you will get the revitalization that everyone seeks. Easier said than done, but I believe it is as simple as that. Now if only the Town Board would actually be interested, we might get somewhere.

  • Dr. Lovejoy

    RWM – This deal stinks. I support the author. I think the concept is simply a scam. We need a better facility but not like this. I used to live in Franklin Square where we played street hockey and worshipped the Islanders. My parents are still there but the neighborhood has changed. I don’t see the kids playing in the streets like they used to in my day.

  • Matt Harris

    I am not a resident of Nassau County. However, I grew up there, also in Franklin Sq BTW….., saw many concerts at the Coliseum, and I even remember when it was a runway for Mitchell Field.
    Does it need to be replaced? That is debatable. Madison Square Garden, and older facility, is currently being renovated in place.
    I even miss the old Island Garden and Commack Arena!
    I suppose if you are an Islander fan, you may feel strongly about a new facility for their use.
    However, based on the current economic climate, and the fact that both the Yankees and Mets did not ask for NYC help to rebuild, I think Mr. Wang is being a bit selfish to think the lowly taxpayers should fund this.
    Just my 2 cents.

  • Dr. Lovejoy

    Good call Matt. The place should be refurbished, not replaced. I think Mr. Wang has been a bad owner. I would feel better if he were a fan like Mark Cuban vs. a businessman more interested in land development.

    • Iratus Civis

      Mr. Wang left Sanjay Kumar in charge of CA and lok what he did there. Then he left Mike Milbury in charge of the Islanders and look what he did. Why would anyone trust this guy?

  • Manny Hanny

    Who can afford any game these days? Its outrageous. The politicians are gutless. No one wants to be branded as the elected official that lost the team. I hope it goes down!

  • Anonymous

    Wrong. Yankee stadium is half paid for by NYC residents. 700million if 1.4 billion. Citi supported by municipal bonds floated by NYC.

    Does anyone remember the lighthouse project which would have been phenomenal and completely paid for by Wang ?

    Cablevision and newsday are owned by the same company/family that’s owns the nearest competing hockey team and venue. (rangers and msg) so might be biased but not how you portray.

    What do kids playing street hockey in one neighborhood have to do with saving the last venue in LI ?

    What other ideas do you have ?

    The amount you pay fir one event you have to trek to NYC is far above the max 13.80 per house annually you will see on your taxes. They will be much higher if the cite fails in a few years.

    Research before you post and falsely influence. That goes for the author and commenters.

  • Anonymous

    Wang gets zero development rights. It us county owned land. Why would he pay to build on land he does not own.

    Studies determined it would be cost prohibitive to renovate again

  • Anonymous

    Wang get zero development rights. Why would he fund to build on land owned by county not him? Studies show it is cost prohibitive to renovate again.

  • Iratus Civis

    Anonymous – the fact that you are unable to connect the importance of kids not playing hockey anymore speaks volumes to what you know. Kids of today are the fan base of tomorrow. If they don’t take an interest when they can play it, there is less liklelihood they will follow it when they are adults.

    Second, let’s leave the Yankees and Mets out of this as NYC has a more fiscally stable base to tax from.

    Lastly, read this article about the debacle from Hamilton County, Ohio where news stadiums were financed for the Bengals and Reds after the threat of relocation. It sums it up perfectly and foreshadows what will happen in Nassau County.

  • RWM

    I was on another computer and came up posting as anonymous.

    The person references his old neighborhood specifically which is is not the barometer of kids in the world. I see in many neighborhoods backyard rink kits, sports courts and tons of kids playing both street and ice hockey. So what does that tell you?

    One poster incorrectly stated that taxpayers were not paying for Citi and Yankee stadium which is totally inaccurate.

    There are numerous studies out there and they can speak for both sides. Newark has seen great success with a new arena. The math is simple, based on several independent studies. The county will spend/lose more money when the islanders leave than they will with a new arena, with potential for more income.

  • Iratus Civis

    Overall NHL attendance in is decline and has been for the past few years. Mostly when the recession started in 2009. Plus, the Islanders had the greatest falloff in attendance. Why build something for such a dismal product?–again-2010-12#nhl-attendance-team-by-team-1

    The Devils and the Nets do not sell-out. When the Nets move to Brooklyn – oh wait – another arena to compete with the Coliseum – that experiment will prove a failure. In the largest media market in the country, both teams struggle to fill seats. Fans want a winning team which the Islanders should be forced to produce before taxpayers foot this bill. How about a minimum of two winning seasons back-to-back gets you a new arena.

  • Iratus Civis

    And by the way, if this is such a great idea, why such a rush for a vote? A Monday in August??? How about Sept. 13th which is Primary Day in NYS?

  • RWM

    It is not all about Hockey, 41 games per year. The Arena has hosted over 200 events in the past per years. Those numbers are in decline because of the condition and aging infrastructure of the facility and today large acts cannot put on the show they want in other arenas that are up to today’s standards (Power, space for lighting, ventilation, moveable seats etc).

    It is a fact, echoed by the NHL that the arena has the worst ice in the league, Wang has spent millions more than once to rectify, but it is not possible. Parts of the building are crumbling, retractable seats are a safety concern. This is a major reason top stars will not sign here and has been said by many players courted by the Islanders. The same players admire the young core of talent and most in hockey will agree the Islanders will be contenders in the next 1-3 years.

    Think more about Concerts, Family events, Exhibitions, boat shows, the Circus etc and not just the Anchor tenant.

  • Taxed to Death

    Concerts, Family events, Exhibitions, boat shows, the Circus are usually cut back by a family during a recession. BTW, 12 non Islander events from tomorrow’s Britney Spears concert to the end of the year on the Coliseum website. Is 200 verifiable or is this another stat to be included with the thousands of jobs to be created? The place is dark more than 50% each month. Don’t tell me because acts won’t play there. Stats prove otherwise. Refurbishing it is the best idea like what MSG is doing. Why did that idea go away?

  • George Orton

    Thank you Nassau residents!!
    The people of Hamilton,Ontario are readying the city for the 2016 NHL debut of your “old” team the Islanders.

  • Iratus Civis

    Not neccessarily. The Nassau residents said no to a bad plan. Go back to the drawing board Mr. Mangano and do the right thing which does not include doing it on the backs of your tax payers. I only wish we had a referendum on Avalon Bay in Huntington Station. November 8th is the closest we will get to that!

  • Wang is wrong

    Wang seems to be buying up much of Oysterbay so he should have enough money to refurbish the Nassau Coliseum without breaking the back of taxpayers who thanks to past politicians are deep in debt. There is no reason that the coliseum can’t have a makeover.

    As for Avalon Bay it will be fought in the courts and Petrone’s majority hold on the town board has a good chance of evaporating in this fall’s election.

  • John Zadrozny

    The coliseum isn’t like Avalon Bay because it already exists. Removal of it’s main tenant will remove loads of revenue and add costs to the county, thus raising taxes. It’s a classic case of cutting of your nose despite your face. Hopefully Suffolk, Queens, or Brooklyn can entice them to stay in NY.

    When Wang was offering to foot the bill for the Lighthouse project where was the support?

  • Iratus Civis

    It was like Avalon Bay in that it was a bad plan advocated by government support. But that point is now moot in that the citizens of Nassau voted it down. I wish Huntington citizens could vote on Avalon Bay as well.

  • Night Owl

    Frank Petrone and his cronies like Ken Christensen will never let Huntington residents decide their fate when it comes to housing. With them it’s more the merrier despite what it does to the tax rate and quality of life.

  • Taxation w/o Representation

    At least the county took the democratic path of voting on the project. We just get this projects stuffed down our throats, under protest, and get the tax bill.

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