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A little late, Newsday casts some doubt on (and repeats tired cheerleading for) the coexistence of Belmont arena and Nassau Coliseum

Newsday only today has a long article (update: cover story two days later!) about two competing arenas, some eight miles apart, headlined Can Nassau Coliseum and Islanders' Belmont arena coexist? Though the mealy-mouthed result is semi-positive, the answer, reading carefully, seems to be: experts say no, interested parties say yes.

I could've told you that--before the Belmont arena was approved, as I wrote in a Daily News op-ed, and later in an essay for Gotham Gazette.

Heck, documents from Empire State Development, the state authority that approved the new Belmont arena--new home to the New York Islanders, once the Coliseum's anchor tenant before an ill-fated temporary move to Brooklyn--confirm that, as I've written.

Not that Newsday drills down that far. Let me distill the arguments.

Arguments against coexistence

The lead quote comes from an independent expert:
"It's tough to see how Nassau Coliseum survives in its current form given the number of seats there are and the number of venues in the area, with MSG, Barclays and what will become the Belmont arena," said Lee Igel, a New York University sports business professor.
Here's another:
Robert Trumpbour, a communications professor at Penn State Altoona and the author of "The New Cathedrals: Politics and Media in the History of Stadium Construction," said the Belmont arena will mean more competition in a market already crowded with arenas in order to land "top tier acts."
Keep in mind that Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim, which no longer operates Barclays, lacks leverage to deliver shows to both venues. So another independent expert has doubts
"I think the Belmont arena, with their ownership group, has the inside track on booking the bigger name acts," said Andrew Forman, a Hofstra University marketing professor. "I think that's going to impact the Coliseum more than the size difference or the Coliseum being older."
Arguments for coexistence

The intro:
Others say there is more than enough business in a big market such as New York to support both arenas, and point to development plans at the Nassau Hub as a critical economic igniter for the future of the Coliseum site.
That's a dodge.

If "RXR Realty and development partner Onexim Sports and Entertainment, which operates the county-owned Coliseum," build biotech research facilities and housing on the sites around the arena, that could be worthy development activity.

But it doesn't necessarily put guests in the seats of the downsized Coliseum, to see concerts, family shows, and other events.

Still, a parade of interested parties sounds sunny. County Executive Laura Curran, of course, is positive:
"I see these two projects as quite complementary," said Curran, a supporter of the Belmont project. "The fact that we have two very large projects happening right in our county shows — proves — that we are not 'the land of no' but that we are 'the land of yes, yes, yes' and good things can happen in Nassau and we can move forward."
So too is a business leader:
Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association, and co-chairman of the HUB advisory committee, which aims to engage local community groups, said Long Islanders have enough disposable income to support Belmont and the Coliseum.
Hmm, in April 2017 Law told Newsday something different:
Law said on Wednesday that he opposes the idea of a new arena at Belmont because of what it means for the Coliseum, which opened last week following a $165-million renovation...
“It makes no sense to build a new arena less than 10 miles away from the brand-new Nassau Coliseum,” he said. He believes the two sites “should complement each other, not cannibalize each other.”
The state analysis undermines itself

A flack for ESD of course supports the project:
Jack Sterne, a spokesman for Empire State Development, the state's business aid agency, said, "ESD conducted a thorough analysis to see how the new Belmont arena would fit into the region’s live event landscape. These two venues will not just coexist, but will complement each other."
That "thorough analysis," actually, should undermine a quote in the new article from Onexim president Maureen Hanlon, in paraphrase, that "the Coliseum's smaller size will be attractive to entertainment acts that may not be able to sell out the Belmont arena's 19,000 seats."

Hold on. As I wrote in Gotham Gazette, quoting the state's own Final Environmental Impact Statement Project Description chapter, the Belmont operators are not trying to sell out the arena with every booking:
In addition to the approximately 44 to 60 New York Islanders home games, NYAP envisions approximately 145 non-NHL arena event days annually, including: approximately 50 marquee concert/entertainment event days that would fully utilize the arena’s space (approximately 19,000 seats); approximately 65 large to medium event days (utilizing between 6,000 and 11,500 seats), such as Disney on Ice, Cirque Du Soleil, E-Sports, or high school sports; and approximately 30 small or non-ticketed event days (3,500 seats or fewer).
That's called utilizing the lower bowl.

Factors like public transit (better for Belmont, but not perfect) and parking (maybe a bit closer at Nassau?) will combine with the snazziness of the competing venues, and the quality of acts.

Belmont  should have a lot more sponsors and premium seats, thus more revenue, though it also has to pay off construction.

Keep in mind that a lot of arena promises and projections don't come true. Remember the minor league hockey team promised for Nassau? Or the gold mine that Barclays Center is not?

If the Nassau Coliseum were a stock, I bet we'd see some sophisticated investors selling short.

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