Hip hop mogul Jay-Z was among four teams of companies that pitched their visions Thursday for the aging Nassau Coliseum property to a committee that will later pick the winning proposal.
The four ideas were split in two camps: Three groups that suggested refurbishing the 40-year-old arena versus one that wants to demolish it and build anew. All the plans reduce the number of seats from the current 16,800, which Nassau County suggested in its latest request for proposals for the infamously difficult-to-redevelop prime real estate.
“Long a victim of the Long Island ‘no,’ we are encouraged that one of the proposals today holds the key,” County Executive Ed Mangano said during the presentation hosted by his Business Advisory Council, which will decide the winner this summer.
Proposing a new arena is the Blumenfeld Development Group, which made its fourth pitch for the land since the 1970s. Refurbished coliseum plans were unveiled by New York Sports & Entertainment LLC, the Madison Square Garden
Company and Jay-Z’s group, led by the Forest City Ratner Companies, which built the new Barclay’s Center and lured the Islanders from the coliseum.
“We need to create a new identity for Nassau—one that’s bold and new and fresh,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of the Barclay’s Center and the Brooklyn Nets. The surrounding property would feature a movie theater, restaurants, an exhibition hall and an outdoor amphitheater.
“Programming is really the fuel for this engine,” he said, pointing to plans to host upward of 300 events annually, including six Islanders games, 38 minor-league hockey games and 54 family events among the line up.
MSG, which was spun off from Bethpage-based Cablevision Systems Corp. in 2010, likewise rolled out plans that included creating an “entertainment district” surrounding a refurbished arena.
“We don’t have time to pick a plan that doesn’t work,” said RXR Reality CEO Scott Rechler, who joined the MSG pitch team. He was alluding to his prior plans to redevelop the coliseum in the ambitious Lighthouse project with Islanders’ owner Charles Wang.
Wang has also reportedly been considering moving the Islanders to Brooklyn before their lease is up on their original Uniondale home in 2015—adding even more urgency to the proposal process.
Jim Johnson, who made the presentation for Bernard Shereck, CEO of New York & Sports Entertainment LLC, emphasized their Long Island roots and joked that “the Bernie’s our biggest celebrity” compared to the competition.
“Nobody can ever dispute that Long Island is a hotbed for lacrosse,” Johnson said while touting plans to bring a lacrosse team to the arena and create more space within the existing facility for an exhibition hall.
Starting off their presentation with a video of a Nassau Coliseum lookalike being demolished was Ed Blumenfeld, whose firm joined with SMG, the current Nassau Coliseum management company.
“We think we have something that will be difference and iconic to Long Island,” he said, adding that the company would buy a minor-league hockey team if it won the bid.
Jerry Goldman, the current general manager of the coliseum, expressed his support. “Long Island deserves a brand new arena, not a refurbished arena,” he said.