Friday, May 14, 2010

An arena for the Islanders near CitiField? Not without major subsidies (and what about financing and the arena glut?)

The New York Times reported yesterday, under the headline Mets Consider Adding the Islanders, a Soccer Team and an Arena, on the possibility of yet another arena within city limits:
Jeff Wilpon, the Mets’ chief operating officer, said he talked to the Islanders’ owner, Charles Wang, about building an arena near Citi Field and possibly buying the money-losing Islanders.

“We’ve had discussions with the Islanders — in addition to those we’ve had with Major League Soccer — about building a sports/entertainment facility near Citi Field,” the Mets said in a statement.

...Such a facility is not part of the city’s plan to redevelop the nearby 62-acre Willets Point industrial property.

Still, Newsday reported that the Wilpon family’s Sterling Equities company filed papers with the city to be a developer for the project. Building at Willets Point would take considerably more time than on Citi Field’s parking lot.

Wilpon was unavailable to discuss his plan or whether he would ask the city and state to pay infrastructure costs, as they did for Citi Field and the new Yankee Stadium.
What's left unsaid

That was prudent, since infrastructure costs, subsidies, and other public goodies make the difference in mitigating the risk in such projects.

Not to mention that the PILOTs (payment in lieu of taxes) scheme used for the baseball stadiums and the Atlantic Yards arena is no longer available. Or that there's a regional arena glut. Or that there are private business owners in Willets Point in the way.

The Brooklyn arena would be a much better bet for a move for the Islanders from the Nassau Coliseum--except it can't support major league hockey as designed.

"I'd love to have more teams move here," Mayor Mike Bloomberg said at a news conference, according to Newsday. "That'd be great." So great, in fact, he signed on well before Atlantic Yards was publicly announced.

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