Tuesday, August 02, 2011

With voters defeating bond for Nassau Coliseum, a big boost for the Barclays Center (if no new plan in Long Island emerges)

Barclays Center promoters got a big boost with the defeat yesterday by Nassau County voters (well, about ten percent of them) of a bond measure to replace the Nassau Coliseum, home of the hockey Islanders and numerous concerts and shows.

While it's possible some new plan may arise to house the team, or refurbish the building, where the Islanders have a lease until 2015, the demise of the Coliseum, with no replacement, would divert events to other venues.

The closest? The Barclays Center, accessible to many Long Islanders via the Long Island Rail Road. So, even without the Islanders, the Barclays Center would gain.

Hockey in Brooklyn?

And while Forest City Ratner officials have said they made a conscious decision, upon shrinking the arena, to rule out major league hockey, given the seating available and reduced sight lines.

Now, reports NetsDaily, font of murmured information in support of the arena:
But more recently, word inside the Nets is that nothing can be ruled out, that the arena can "definitely" host the NHL, whether pre-season, a small number of home games or more. Nothing has been determined but no one is dismissing the possibility anymore.
Nets CEO Brett Yormark said in April, "We would love the Islanders to play a couple of games at the Barclays Center."

There are several other cities with arenas or fan bases hankering for hockey, but the devil's in the details of the deal--and there is an advantage to remaining in the New York media market.

Neil deMause rounds up the options for the Islanders in the Village Voice, in Are the Islanders Moving to Brooklyn Now or What?:
(Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark tells the Voice in an emailed statement: "The Barclays Center will have an ice rink that can support professional hockey. Due to the venue's design, the capacity for hockey would be a few thousand seats less than for basketball. While we hope to explore hockey opportunities in the future, our primary focus at the moment is to build the best sports and entertainment venue in the world." Which doesn't answer much about what "can support" means — would it end up like the old America West Arena in Phoenix, with some seats that couldn't see the nets? — and Yormark didn't respond to questions about cost.) 

Not a close vote

From today's New York Times, Nassau Voters Reject Proposal to Fix Coliseum:
With 82 percent of the ballots counted late Monday, the vote was about 57 percent to 43 percent against borrowing the money through a general obligation bond to pay for the plan, which also called for construction of a minor-league baseball park and convention space. The results marked an enormous defeat for Charles E. Wang, the owner of the Islanders, who had sought a new or refurbished arena for nearly a decade.
What the voters said

The Times reports:
On Monday evening, voters at the poll at California School in Uniondale, about a mile from the arena, fell into two camps: those who thought the project would benefit Long Island in the long run, and those who did not think the project was worth paying additional taxes.
The package for the Atlantic Yards project, of course, was never put to a vote, nor presented as starkly, as tax breaks and direct subsidies were spread among city, state, and federal taxpayers.

The vote yesterday, scheduled on a summer Monday rather than Election Day, drew only about ten percent of voters--likely those motivated pro and con.

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