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Nassau County Executive Mangano bizarrely suggests renovated Coliseum will lure Islanders back; Ratner in dispute over retail plan?

There's been much scornful comment about the claim by Nassau County executive Ed Mangano, in his 3/11/15 State of the County address (below), that the renovated, shrunken Nassau Coliseum will lure the New York Islanders back.

After all, National Hockey League officials told Newsday that there was no indication that the team's move to Brooklyn this fall is temporary. And the Brooklyn arena offers far more luxury suites, key to making the economics work. Why would Coliseum redeveloper Forest City Ratner do anything to get back the team they recently lured to the Barclays Center they operate?

In a piece of intrigue, Long Island Business News yesterday reported, Developer dispute could stall Coliseum project. Apparently Forest City and Long Island's Blumenfeld Development Group (BDG) are at odds over the size and scope of the retail and entertainment piece of the Coliseum plan.

According to the article, based in part on anonymous sources, BDG wants to build some "300,000 square feet of restaurants, retail and entertainment businesses," while Forest City is aiming at less than one-third of that square footage. But they may not be that far apart, since BDG's own web site references 150,000 square feet.

Watching Mangano wink

"I'm certain this world-class destination will get the attention of the NHL," Mangano declared in his address. "While I was disappointed when taxpayers voted no to building an arena to keep our only professional sports team, we have an opportunity to keep their roots here in Nassau County. Tonight I announce that we are very close to finalizing plans... for a new historic public-private partnership with the Islanders to construct a state of the art corporate office and practice facility here in Nassau County."

"This facility will cement the Islanders in Nassau and provide hope that we will witness their full time return when they see the magnificent new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum," he declared, almost winking. "We will continue to work to make that a reality. Whether they know it or not, we're going to continue to try to keep our sports team here."



Other questionable statements

"Our largest public-private partnership is the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where... construction will begin later this year to turn the outdated arena into a world-class sports and entertainment destination," Mangano said in the beginning of the excerpt above.

"The new Coliseum will retain its history of honoring our veterans while sharing revenue with County taxpayers," he declared. "It'll employ 2,700 people and provide $10 billion in economic benefit to our county."

What does "employ 2,700 people" mean? The "new Coliseum" phrase leaves the impression there would be 2,700 workers, but the Barclays Center has only 2,000 workers and far fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) workers.

Maybe he was referring to temporary construction jobs, or, perhaps, ultimately the associated buildings now subject to the the discpute.

What does $10 billion in economic benefit mean, and how is that calculated? We know that Zimbalist's numbers for Ratner's project were highly questionable. So we shouldn't trust a politician's projection without some backing data.

The new Coliseum, Mangano said it will host several Islanders games, Nets games, children's shows, "heavyweight boxing championships," minor league hockey and college basketball, "as well as "an exciting array of star studded performers and family-fun entertainment."

What might be very interesting is that Forest City Ratner, by the time its team opens the revamped Coliseum, may be out of the arena business in Brooklyn.

The dispute, and some numbers

According to the Long Island Business News article, Forest City Ratner sent LIBN a statement saying "We have an obligation and responsibility to build out the Coliseum and adjoining retail in a way that sustains long-term economic development without compromising the surrounding area."

While the article said the dispute may end up in court and stall Coliseum development, there's no indication that would affect the work to revamp and reopen the Coliseum itself. 

The dispute may be less than portrayed. The BDG website promises:
The iconic, state-of-the-art arena will be the centerpiece of a vibrant sports and entertainment district, which will replace the current concrete-covered plaza, consisting of approximately 150,000 square feet of new sports, entertainment and retail facilities as well as a variety of restaurants. SHoP Architects... has designed both the new exterior of the arena as well as the surrounding retail to create an integrated and complementary entertainment complex. The sports and entertainment district is anticipated to include a movie theater, bowling alley, indoor sports facility, indoor skydiving facility and/or a fitness center.
I don't see how that adds up to 300,000 square feet, but it's more than 100,000 square feet. According to a 9/20/13 memo from the Nassau County Legislature's Office of Legislative Budget Review:
The lease proposes a 145,000 square foot dining and entertainment complex in the Coliseum plaza. According to Schedule G of the lease agreement, a 10-12 screen movie theater would account for 60,000 square feet of the complex, and another 60,000 square feet of the complex would be devoted to a variety of dining options. The remaining 25,000 square feet in the complex would be dedicated to a recreational anchor (bowling, bocce, dining, etc.). Schedule G notes roughly a 2,500+/- seat theater based on the House Office of Legislative Budget Review 3 of Blues or Fillmore Theater concept to host regional, national, and international musical acts. A space would serve as an ice rink in the winter and a performance lawn for cultural and musical events in the summer. 
Then again, given Forest City Ratner's track record, we shouldn't be surprised if a deal changes.

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