Future of Nassau Coliseum still up in the air
by Christian Arnold/Correspondent
The future of the Nassau Coliseum is still up in the air as the deadline for the county’s request for qualification (RFQ) looms near, and a recent report suggests that developers are hesitant to get involved yet again.
In early July Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano put out an RFQ in the hopes of drawing interest from developer to transform the 77-acres that surround the Nassau Coliseum, home of the New York Islanders, and building a new or renovated arena. Since then, several reports have come out pointing to flaws in the plan, suggesting that Islanders owner Charles Wang sees this latest attempt as a move by the county to save face, and most recently that area developers are hesitant to get involved in the new RFQ.
"They're putting an RFQ [request for qualifications] out there for a business proposition that is dead on arrival," Mark Hammer, president of Harvest Real Estate Services in Jericho, told Newsday. "They keep trying to force a square peg into a round hole."
Another critique has been the zoning allowed by the town of Hempstead. When it was first announced the county executive and Wang released a joint statement calling it economically unviable.
Though now his position seems to have changed. County executive Mangano told New York Hockey Journal, through a spokesperson, “the RFQ put forth the Hempstead zoning plan as a guideline, not a hard and fast rule for development.”
For others, the lack of involvement by the Islanders owner has made them hesitate to get involved and was the topic of recent op-ed in the Long Island Business News by Association for a Better Long Island Executive Director Desmond Ryan.
Ryan believes since Wang was involved in last year’s failed referendum that his silence now only hurts the current plan.
“What it does, it only fuels the speculation that he is shopping the team and he will be leaving the region,” Ryan said in a phone interview.
“The 77 acres that are in question here is beyond a shadow of a doubt probably the most expensive real estate on the island,” Ryan later added. “At the end of the day whatever is being proposed for this property has to be able to meet the socioeconomic needs of the region. Not only for today, but for the future as well. So the question then begs the following, if he’s not shopping the team, and he intends to stay, than he needs to engage.”
Charles Wang has refused repeated requests for comment regarding this issue and the Islanders did not respond to a request for comment for this article. The county executive also declined to comment on Wang’s involvement in the RFQ process saying he could not comment on ongoing negotiations.
Ryan agreed that Wang might be in talks with the county behind the scenes, but feels it’s time to make a public statement.
“In this age of transparency he is going to have to move forward into the public domain because the county may control the site, but the town controls the zoning,” he said.
But it is not all gloom in doom. While some developers aren’t planning on participating in the RFQ, others are welcoming the challenge to develop the site that is key to keeping the Islanders in Nassau County.
Developer Donald Monti is planning on submitting an RFQ with the intention of retaining the Isles, according to Randi Marshall of Newsday.
“I love the Islanders,” he told Marshall. “People don’t realize the importance of a major league franchise. To lose them … would be a travesty.”
Monti is working on projects in the Village of Hempstead and Glen Cove and says he has a relationship with Wang. He also said he may tweak the Hempstead zone, but would only be minor changes.
The county executive declined to comment what “Plan B” is if the RFQ doesn’t go as expected, but did say, “The last I checked, we’re on plan D.”