Move over Quackerjack! You’re about to be joined by another lovable mascot on Long Island.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano selected the proposal by Long Island Ducks principal owner Frank Boulton to bring a minor league baseball franchise to Nassau County, paving the way for a possible island-wide rivalry between the Suffolk County team. The new team’s proposed home would be the current site of Mitchel Park in Uniondale and would open in 2013.
Monday’s announcement is linked to efforts to rebuild the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Voters will decide Aug. 1 on whether to approve a $400 million referendum for the coliseum project, a plan that includes the construction of a $50 million minor league baseball park nearby.
“Attracting a baseball team to Nassau County will create jobs while providing an affordable family-fun destination for our residents,” said Mangano. “Rather than travel to neighboring counties for sports entertainment opportunities, families will be able to stay local and spend dollars in our community.”
Boulton, who also serves as the CEO of the 14 year-old Atlantic League of Professional Baseball Clubs, Inc., was chosen over the proposal submitted by Blumenfield Development Group/Sterling Equities—the latter of which represents the New York Mets.
Boulton has pioneered the creation of eight new ballparks and 10 minor league franchises throughout independent and minor league baseball.
“The Long Island Ducks are enthusiastic about bringing another Atlantic League team to Nassau County,” said Boulton, a Freeport native. “An instant rivalry to play the ‘Expressway Series’ will entertain over an anticipated 800,000 Long Islanders annually.”
The decision to add a new team to the Atlantic League comes at an opportune time, since the Newark Bears—a mainstay in the league since its inception—moved to the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball prior to this season.
Negotiations for a revenue-sharing agreement are scheduled to begin later this week. Nassau County taxpayers would own the new ballpark and share in the revenue derived from events held at the facility.
A deal will likely be structured similar to the agreement between the Ducks and Suffolk County. The county receives a $1 surcharge for every ticket sold, 25 percent of skybox revenue and a percentage of advertising.
Still, while plans appear to be moving forward, the ballpark as well as the new arena depend on the result of the Aug. 1 referendum. And even if it passes, the project is still subject to a review by a state fiscal watchdog overseeing Nassau’s finances, and the borrowing requires approval of the county legislature.
“Baseball is really not owned by the owners of the team; it’s the people’s game,” said Boulton. “I think it’s very appropriate that the people in Nassau County have the opportunity to exercise the process of voting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on this very important project.”
The proposed ballpark and coliseum reconstruction is part of Mangano’s vision to create a sports entertainment center in The Nassau Hub, as the county’s central region is known.
The goal is to have the revenue sharing negotiations completed before the Aug. 1 vote.
“It is basically a home run for Long Island, for Nassau County, for Suffolk County and our region as we will attract more activity in our sports-entertainment destination,” Mangano said.
Depending on the result of the referendum, this ‘home run’ may be considered a ‘strikeout’ if county citizens balk at an increase in taxes.