Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Will Forest City Ratner redevelop the Nassau Coliseum? They're not just a bidder, they had inside track over MSG, others

Just months after convincing the New York Islanders to move from the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island to move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2015-16 season (if not sooner), Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner has a good shot at a hat trick: reaping fees from a plan to revamp the Coliseum, then executing that plan--and besting rival Madison Square Garden, to boot.

Hockey writer Chris Botta tweeted: "Brooklyn's Barclays Center made a strong pitch in the RFP with Nassau for the next version of the Nassau Coliseum." Is he well-sourced because of Nassau connections or Forest City ones?

For Forest City shareholders, it sounds like a brilliant move. For others, it may sound sketchy: why wouldn't a firm hired to "fix" the Coliseum know best how to pursue that fix?

The run-up

Newsday (subscriber-only) reported 4/15/13 Coliseum ideas due today:
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's plan to transform Nassau Coliseum into a scaled-down arena with 8,000 to 12,000 seats reaches a pivotal juncture today when private developers must submit proposals.
..."I am optimistic that the RFP process will return competitive responses to achieve our goal of reinventing the Coliseum so that it successfully hosts family-oriented sports and entertainment events while generating significant revenue for the county and its taxpayers," Mangano said in a statement.
...The plan to "right-size" the 16,000-seat arena by reducing its seating capacity and focusing on family shows, concerts and minor league sports was conceived by developer Bruce Ratner, who built the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The article noted that the RFP allows for the Islanders to leave early and also offers preference to bidders who can get a pro sports franchise--presumably minor league hockey or hoops--to commit to the arena. The downsized plan would allow for new development in the huge exterior parking lot.

The proposals

Newsday reported 4/16/13, in 4 Coliseum proposals submitted, that FCR was among the bidders, but wouldn't talk. A couple were less reticent:
The bidders include Syosset developer Ed Blumenfeld, who said he submitted a plan to build a scaled-down arena to replace the current 16,000-seat Coliseum, and the Madison Square Garden Company, which owns the New York Knicks, the New York Rangers and venues including Madison Square Garden.
...Blumenfeld said he is partnering with SMG, the Pennsylvania-based arena company that now manages the Coliseum, and University of Michigan sports management professor Mark Rosentraub on the effort.
Blumenfeld is proposing construction of an entirely new arena that could be filled more than 200 nights a year. The building would accommodate larger exhibition events and "Class A acts and entertainment, not castoffs that are not going to the Garden or Barclays,"
...MSG spokeswoman Kimberly Kerns did not provide details of the company's proposal but said, "We find the idea of a sports-and-entertainment complex on Long Island interesting and believe that this is a unique opportunity to bring the MSG brand, along with our expertise in operating and booking venues, to help develop a thriving sports and entertainment destination...."
Nassau would get a percentage of gross revenue from arena events. 


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