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Ratner, MSG picked as Coliseum finalists

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Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2013 11:05 am | Updated: 12:24 pm, Thu Jul 11, 2013.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has selected groups headed by Barclays Center owner Bruce Ratner and the Madison Square Garden Company as finalists to redevelop the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, reports Newsday.

Mangano pushed an anticipated July 15 deadline to select a winning bid to mid-August to allow the frontrunners time to review contracts the county sent out weeks ago, according to Newsday. The contracts include specific terms of the redevelopment project, including the share of revenues that would go to the county, and unlike the proposals already submitted would be binding.

Ratner and Madison Square Garden Company CEO Hank Ratner (no relation) welcomed the county’s decision and restated their dedication to the project in statements to Blank Slate Media.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the County on making our compelling plan a reality.  With our vision and proven track record in revitalizing and operating several world-class venues, MSG’s plan will achieve a bold re-imagining of the Nassau Coliseum site as a thriving, 365-day a year destination,” said Hank Ratner in a statement. “A successful Nassau Coliseum will mean an exciting new future for Nassau County, which includes new jobs and revenue, as well as a premiere sports and entertainment destination for all Long Islanders.”

“We are more enthusiastic than ever about our world-class proposal for Nassau Coliseum and we are looking forward to the County Executive’s decision,” said Bruce Ratner in a statement. “Our unprecedented partnership group will deliver a spectacular re-imagined Coliseum, a premier entertainment and retail center, more than 300 events annually, and unparalleled hospitality. We are ready to create a Nassau like never before that will make Long Islanders proud.”

The other two competitors for the project - Long Island-based firms Blumenfeld Development Group and businessman Bernard Shereck’s New York Sports LLC - were not given contracts to review by the county. 

Blumenfeld, whose group proposed the only plan which would have built a new arena instead of renovating the existing Coliseum, told Newsday that he was seeking a possible collaboration with Bruce Ratner’s group on the project, but that such a deal was not yet in place.

Once Madison Square Garden and Bruce Ratner’s group submit their contracts, Mangano will select one to put before the county Legislature, which will have final approval over the bid. Mangano told Newsday he is hoping for the Legislature to vote on the chose contract by late August or early September.

The new plans, presented earlier this month before a panel of 17 Nassau business leaders who will assist the county in selecting the winning proposal, are the latest effort to revamp the aging arena.

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang’s Lighthouse Project, a $3.8 billion plan to redevelop the Nassau Hub, stalled in the face of opposition from the Town of Hempstead, and Mangano’s 2011 referendum to publicly finance a new arena was rejected by voters. Wang, who owns the New York Islanders, announced that his team would leave their long-time Uniondale digs for the Barclays Center in 2015.

Ratner, who advised the county on development possibilities for the site after Wang announced the Islanders’ departure, is partnering with Brooklyn Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Jay-Z’s company Roc Nation, New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys joint food service venture Legends, the entertainment company Live Nation, financial services company Guggenheim Partners and Barclays Center architectural firm SHoP. 

Brett Yormark, Barclays Center and Brooklyn Nets CEO, has termed the group a “dream team.”

The group’s plan calls for a reduction in seating from the Coliseum’s 17,686 seating capacity to 13,000, an aesthetic revamp of the arena’s interior and concrete facade, the building of a monument to Nassau’s military veterans and more than 300 annual sports, music and entertainment events. The renovations are anticipated to require a 15-month arena closure and will cost the group about $89 million. Future development, including the rehabilitation of the existing convention center and the building of a 2,000 seat theater, a cinema and an outdoor amphitheater is projected to cost an additional $140 million.

Ratner also recently announced plans to add a winter ice rink to his group’s design.

MSG is partnering with national venue builders the Cordish Companies and Long Island developer Scott Rechler on a $250 million plan that would feature an arena which could scale from a 14,500 seat major concert venue to a 1,700 seat theater.

MSG’s proposal includes aesthetic changes to the Coliseum, including the addition of glass elements to the arena’s imposing concrete exterior and the construction of Long Island Live - an adjacent entertainment district that will feature live entertainment and tie-ins with the Garden‘s professional sports franchises, including the Knicks and Rangers. MSG announced recently that its sporting entertainment zone would also feature Islanders memorabilia and that parking would be included with Coliseum tickets in an effort to reduce overflow onto public parking spots.

Shereck told Newsday he was disappointed in the outcome.

“We saw ourselves as David versus Goliath,” he said.

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